Tha­bane warns ri­vals

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

EX­ILED All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader Thomas Tha­bane ( pic­tured) has vowed to lead his party to vic­tory in the 2020 gen­eral elec­tions and scoffed at “ma­li­cious claims” by his ri­vals that he is too old and un­fit to hold pub­lic of­fice.

Dr Tha­bane turns 77 on 28 May and will cel­e­brate his birth­day at his South African refuge in Ficks­burg for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

The for­mer premier fled Le­sotho on 11 May 2015 say­ing he had been re­li­ably in­formed of a plot to kill him by mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force.

How­ever, over re­cent weeks, Dr Tha­bane has been the tar­get of sarcastic re­marks by mem­bers of the rul­ing Demo­cratic Congress (DC) and Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD), who in­sist he would be “too old” when the next par­lia­men­tary elec­tions are held in four years’ time.

But Dr Tha­bane in­sisted he would lead the ABC to power again, the same way he be­came prime min­is­ter in 2012 when his party formed a coali­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion with the LCD and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party, only for squab­bling to end the al­liance mid­way through the gov­ern­ment’s five-year term.

“Claims by Congress sup­port­ers that I can’t make it to the next elec­tions are base­less and ma­li­cious. Even if the elec­tions come in 2020 which is the ex­pected time, it doesn’t mat­ter be­cause I will be there to lead my party and I will lead it to vic­tory and shame those de­trac­tors,” Dr Tha­bane told the Le­sotho Times this week in an in­ter­view to mark his birth­day.

“I am to­tally fine and strong enough to fin­ish what I started. My ri­vals will def­i­nitely see me lead­ing the ABC to vic­tory the way Dr Ntsu Mokhehle did with the BCP (Ba­sotho Congress Party) in 1993 (at 75) and LCD (in 1998 when he was 80). Like we used to boast that Dr Ntsu would just be a face of the LCD’S vic­tory, I will also be hon­oured to see my­self be­ing used the same way and tak­ing the ABC to a land­slide vic­tory.”

Dr Tha­bane in­sisted age was noth­ing but a num­ber as he con­tin­ued to sound the bat­tle cry.

“Like I said, Dr Mokhehle was 80 years old when he chose to step down and hand-over power to Pakalitha Mo­sisili on 21 Fe­bru­ary 1998. To me, age is noth­ing and can’t stop me from help­ing the ABC grow fur­ther and be­come the rul­ing party again.

“Those who laugh at me in the Congress par­ties must re­mem­ber that we used Ntate Mokhehle when he could not even speak due to poor health.

“As for me, I am still very ro­bust. So those who think I am dy­ing are fool­ing them­selves,” Dr Tha­bane said.

Asked about re­cent com­ments by DC Youth League Pres­i­dent Thuso Litjobo that he must be ready to die in South Africa be­cause of his pre-con­di­tion that he would only re­turn to Le­sotho when army com­man­der, Lieu­tenant- Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli had been dis­missed, Dr Tha­bane said he was not go­ing to en­gage in slang­ing matches “with chil­dren”.

“Those re­marks have been made by young boys or girls and I can’t ar­gue with them be- cause they are just chil­dren.

“What I am try­ing to say is, the is­sue of my es­cape can’t be dis­cussed by kids. It is not some­thing to be made light of by party youths. The peo­ple who are sup­posed to deal with the mat­ter are not the youths but their se­niors in gov­ern­ment.

“Like we have al­ways done be­fore, Mo­sisili will en­gage me in due course over the is­sue.”

The ABC leader fur­ther warned politi­cians against “mis­lead­ing sol­diers” into be­liev­ing they could rule Le­sotho again the way they did through Ma­jor-gen­eral Mets­ing Lekhanya from 24 Jan­uary 1986 to 2 May 1991.

“The army’s greed for power must stop be­cause sol­diers are not go­ing to rule Le­sotho again. Le­sotho will not re­gain peace and sta­bil­ity if sol­diers con­tinue to be so power-hun­gry af­ter be­ing mis­led by politi­cians,” Dr Tha­bane con­tin­ued.

“I did not run away from Mo­sisili or his al­lies in the seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment. I ran away from the army which threat­ened me un­der the com­mand of Kamoli.”

Dr Tha­bane said fol­low­ing his es­cape to South Africa, he now re­mem­bers the words of Zam­bia’s

for­mer pres­i­dent, Ken­neth Kaunda.

“Dr Kaunda once said the power which es­tab­lishes a state is vi­o­lence; the power which main­tains it is vi­o­lence; the power which even­tu­ally over­throws it is vi­o­lence; the in­abil­ity of those in power to still the voices of their own con­sciences is the great force lead­ing to change; and when you go in search of honey, you must ex­pect to be stung by bees. I now al­ways re­mem­ber those words by Dr Kaunda.

“It was not me who de­cided that Kamoli must be re­moved from the com­mand of the Le­sotho De­fence Force but SADC.

“But like any other chal­lenge, I know I have to go through tri­als and tribu­la­tions to achieve peace, sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity for my coun­try.” Dr Tha­bane also urged Ba­sotho “to stay in Godly faith” be­cause the founder of the Ba­sotho na­tion, Chief Moshoeshoe I “in­vested in bring­ing Chris­tian­ity to Le­sotho”. “Ba­sotho must make use of their founder’s in­vest­ment by trust­ing in God be­cause he is the only so­lu­tion to the coun­try’s prob­lems, not politi­cians. “Ba­sotho must stop al­low­ing greedy politi­cians to con­fuse them by in­still­ing ha­tred among them,” Dr Tha­bane said.

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