Ex­iled lead­ers should re­turn soon­est!

Lesotho Times - - Scru­ta­tor -

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

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