Exiled leaders should return soonest!
IF ever there was an appropriate time for the three exiled opposition leaders to return home, that time is now. The idiom that when the cat is away, the mice will play rings true of the turmoil slowly engulfing the three main opposition parties in the absence of their formidable leaders.
The schemers within these parties are now seeing a clear opportunity to manoeuvre and entrench their own interests in the absence of their leaders.
They cannot be entirely faulted for that. After all, that is the nature of politics. Politics is the Basotho nation’s most venerated form of entrepreneurship.
The situation is particularly ominous for the Basotho National Party (BNP) which is now in open rebellion and may not survive its leader Ntate Thesele’s prolonged live of absence.
Scrutator has taken a lot of flak from members of the opposition for daring suggest that All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Ntate Motsoahae, BNP leader Ntate Thelesele and Auntie Keke of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho fame must relinquish their foreign “hideouts” and head home forthwith.
After all, with advance apologies to Ntate Monaphathi Maraka, Ficksburg and Ladybrand do not constitute safe hiding places. They are certainly within King Kamoli’s earshot.
I must re-emphasise again that my call for opposition leaders to return does not suggest that I am invalidating the reasons for their fleeing in the first place. Nor am I underestimating the dangers they face upon their return. As I have said before, their continued exile has just become pointless.
Political strategies by their very nature ought to evolve. You cannot seek to continue with the same strategy and expect different results. Which is why the opposition MPS were very wise to end their boycott of Parliament.
The boycott had become an ineffective if not a superfluous strategy. The return to Parliament did not mean that the grievances of the opposition had lapsed. No.
The opposition MPS changed tack because that was the right thing to do. There can be no better platform to air a politician’s grievances than the podium of His real Majesty’s August House. So as the MPS changed their strategies, their leaders must do the same.
Auntie Keke probably has the most to lose if she remains AWOL. She may not realise this fact but it is very true.
When a party is new, it needs utmost attention. It needs to build its support base. It needs to communicate clearly to voters. It needs to take its pride of place.
Yet, in the case of the RCL, several of its National Executive Committee (NEC) members defected in February and March this year.
The party has tried to put up a brave face by claiming the officials had “failed to measure up” to the task of growing the party’s membership. But how can they, in the absence of the leader?
Curiously, former RCL Deputy SecretaryGeneral Matšeliso Tuoane and Treasurer Ithuteng Monaheng joined the ABC, while another official, Tebello Phangoa, joined the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
Ever the optimist, RCL Secretary General ‘Mamolula Ntabe insisted in an interview with the Lesotho Times the party was growing “in leaps and bounds” since its formation in December 2014. Her observation represents the high-most delusions of political grandeur.
Unfortunately in Africa, politics is still largely about personalities. Can you imagine the NRM in Uganda without Yoweri Museveni? Imagine Zanu PF without Robert Mugabe or the MPLA without Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
If I were Auntie Keke I would most be worried considering that the RCL only got two proportional representation seats in the 2015 general elections. Even though the party had only existed for two months when it competed in the polls, this was not a very futuristic and encouraging endeavour.
All it means is the RCL has its work cut out if it ever fantasized about becoming a force to reckon with in Lesotho’s politics. It has a hell lot of work to do to build a support base. No one is better qualified for that task than the leader herself — the good Auntieeee.
A fledgling party cannot afford to have no visibility in a cutthroat political environment as Lesotho. As they say, out of sight, out of mind! Come back Auntieeeeeeee.
The BNP has its fair share of troubles, if not the most. A faction in the party is allegedly working for the ouster of Ntate Thesele, his deputy and my most favourite opposition practitioner Joang Molapo and spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe, among others.
BNP Secretary-general (SG) Lesojane Leuta, who allegedly leads the faction, was denied entry into the party’s women’s league elective conference two weeks ago for coming to the venue under military guard.
Ntate Leuta claimed his life was in danger from his enemies in the BNP and did not attend a meeting convened by Ntate ‘Maseribane on 17 April 2016 at his Ladybrand hideout.
A piqued Ntate Molapo told the Sunday Express in typical Molapo theatricals that it was an “insult” for the SG to come to a conference with armed bodyguards claiming his life was in danger as if party members are murderers.
“The leader of this party ( Ntate ‘Maseribane) made the same claim that his life was in danger, but his issue was not attended to until he had to flee the country.
“Yet, an ordinary Mosotho man who is the SG of the same political party has been provided military security with immediate effect,” Ntate Molapo fumed.
And therein lies the danger for the BNP, just like for all the other opposition parties. If Ntate Leuta is indeed moving with army security, then it means King Kamoli has seen an opportunity to shape the party in a certain direction that favours the King himself.
Those, unfortunately for the BNP, are the realities of politics. Without the opposition leader himself being on the ground to marshal his troops, his enemies will happily perform the task for him.
Sooner or later, there will be no BNP. Or it if exists, it will be in a severely weakened form. Clearly, the BNP’S house is not in order and requires the leader to be on the ground to quell those challenging his throne.
As for the ABC, the lingering rumours linking deputy leader Tlali Khasu to the LCD are refusing to go away, and only serve to weaken the party while the leader remains ensconced in Ficksburg.
Ntate Khasu did not attend a crucial party meeting convened at Ntate Motsoahae’s hideout claiming he did not see the SMS calling for the indaba.
I found this reason particularly hilarious. Ntate Khasu and Motimposo MP Pitso Maisa were the only ABC legislators in parliament on the day of the meeting, while the rest were in Ficksburg.
At least Ntate Maisa was more forthright in stating that all is not well in his party as others, not seen as pandering enough to Ntate Motsoahae are being side-lined.
Iwould not bet a dime against the spectre of also seeing Ntate Khasu under military guard sooner. For him, it could even involve three military vehicles with Ntate Khasu ensconced in the middle.
The situation with the ABC is a bit different. For now Ntate Motsoahae is the ABC while The ABC is Ntate Motsoahae.
But the more the party learns to exist away from its leader, the more it becomes independent from that leader, and the more the leader loses his grip on the party.
And with Ntate Khasu now claiming missing a crunch party meeting on the flimsiest of reasons that he is of the Leabua Jonathan generation of telegrams (and not the Barack Obama generation of Whatsapp), the signs are becoming equally ominous for the ABC.
The sooner these leaders relinquish their fear of King Kamoli to return home forthwith to lead their parties, the better for them and their constituents. The better for Lesotho’s democracy as well. This is a position I have taken which many of you will disagree with. But with time, I will be proven right again, like so many times in the past.
RCL leader Keketso Rantšo
ABC leader Thomas Thabane
BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane