Litjobo, Litjobo and more Litjobo

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator - scru­ta­

IJOIN all and sundry in wish­ing Demo­cratic Congress (DC) youth league leader Thuso Litjobo a very happy 34th birth­day. Even though you did not in­vite me to your bash Ntate, I will cer­tainly be around to gate­crash your 92nd birth­day. I wish you many more.

Read­ers of this col­umn, and there are mul­ti­tudes of you, will re­call that I had promised to say a few words about Ntate Litjobo.

Un­for­tu­nately, I was not able to write this col­umn in the last two weeks be­cause of press­ing in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments.

First, I was at the Olympics in Brazil. Then I had to come back for the SADC sum­mit in Swazi­land. Be­fore I knew it, a sud­den in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the G20 sum­mit in China landed on my desk.

It was only me and Ja­cob Zuma there as the two high­est pro­file Africans and, of course, the Gup­tas. We had a jolly time. You may be wan­der­ing in what ca­pac­ity I was in­vited since I am not a head of state. I will leave that to your imag­i­na­tions.

Even though these busy in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments kept me away, I still want to re­visit the Litjobo is­sue in fuller de­tail. But be­fore I do that, I say congratulations to the Ba­sotho na­tion.

At least no one fled the coun­try dur­ing my two week ab­sence. In fact, I have re­turned to the news that some ex­iles came back. Let’s keep that spirit.

Ntate Litjobo is a young politi­cian who has touched my heart in very pro­found ways. Like a typ­i­cal youth he is gar­ru­lous and lo­qua­cious yet prin­ci­pled in his pro­nounce­ments.

Ntate Litjobo must have been cre­ated soon af­ter God had just en­joyed a high fi­bre break­fast of jun­gle oats, gra­nola, berries and a bit of sliced ba­nana.

God was cer­tainly in a very happy mood that morn­ing and de­cided his first cre­ation af­ter such a sooth­ing and re­fresh­ing meal must be a very worth­while char­ac­ter.

Based on what I have seen so far, I can con­fi­dently say Litjobo is one hell of a worth­while politi­cian. When the time for the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to go six foot un­der ar­rives, Ntate Litjobo will be a safe pair of hands in State House. He will be my nat­u­ral choice for PM.

The young man is prov­ing to be a man of high prin­ci­ples. Of the many in­stances of his po­lit­i­cal crafts­man­ship, one in­ci­dent par­tic­u­larly struck me.

Most of you will know of that ig­no­ra­mus who rou­tinely takes to Tsenolo FM to bash any per­ceived en­e­mies and makes some of the most inane, if not the most po­lit­i­cally mindless state­ments.

So in­com­pe­tent is that ig­no­ra­mus’s ap­proach to is­sues that I am cer­tain he em­bar­rasses those he pur­ports to sup­port.

Out of that ig­no­ra­mus’s grue­some ig­no­rance came the highly stupid plan to mo­bilise and stage a demon­stra­tion against Amer­i­can Am­bas­sador Mathew Har­ring­ton at Un­cle Sam’s heav­ily-for­ti­fied em­bassy in Maseru.

Demon­stra­tions to em­bassies and public protests against am­bas­sadors are so silly that I am not sur­prised that the “grand idea” failed.

But I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with how Ntate Litjobo han­dled the is­sue. He was the first to dis­as­so­ci­ate the DC youth league from the planned protest to the US em­bassy. And he did so in a highly ro­bust and in­tel­li­gent man­ner.

The party “will not be part of that sense­less march”, de­clared Litjobo, ef­fec­tively speak­ing on be­half of his en­tire party.

He then at­tacked the ig­no­ra­mus be­hind the idea of the march for giv­ing the mis­lead­ing im­pres­sion that all seven par­ties in the coali­tion govern­ment were in agree­ment with the idea of “the mother of all marches” against Ntate Har­ring­ton.

In dis­so­ci­at­ing the DC youth league and his party from the march, Ntate Litjobo ex­plained that there are prop­erly laid down pro­ce­dures that a coun­try can fol­low if it wants to eject an am­bas­sador, even though such in­stances are very rare, un­less of course an am­bas­sador is re­called by his coun­try.

“The DC Youth League and DC as a whole know the proper means and pro­ce­dures that can be fol­lowed in or­der for an am­bas­sador to be re­moved from of­fice,” he said.

Ntate Litjobo also re­fused to be mo­bi­lized into sup­port­ing the un­couth vit­riol that was be­ing em­ployed against Ntate Har­ring­ton by the ig­no­ra­mus in ques­tion. Ntate Litjobo said the DC youth League did not have any neg­a­tive view against the am­bas­sador.

He is seem­ingly sup­ported by a steady pair of hands in the name of his sec­re­tary-gen­eral Le­tuka Chafotsa. Ntate Chafotsa had the wis­dom to ask the very per­ti­nent ques­tion? “If we re­move the US am­bas­sador in such an un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous man­ner, then what would be­fall Le­sotho’s diplo­mats in Wash­ing­ton DC and New York?”

Ob­vi­ously those diplo­mats would wish they had never been born, never mind join­ing the For­eign Service. Re­mem­ber this is Un­cle Sam. Like an old Un­cle, he is very pa­tient and ac­com­mo­dat­ing.

But once he loses his fuse, he ex­plodes. Just ask Sad­dam Hus­sein or one Muam­mar Gaddafi.

But more poignantly, was Ntate Chafotsa’s warn­ing against los­ing the US em­bassy in Maseru.

“Le­sotho has lost the United King­dom and Ire­land em­bassies which have moved their em­bassies to South Africa.

“This is a very se­ri­ous is­sue……. if Le­sotho should deal with am­bas­sadors in the man­ner sug­gested by (ig­no­ra­mus) and his al­lies, it will lose more em­bassies. Le­sotho will be iso­lated from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” warned Ntate Chafotsa at the time of that episode. And rightly so.

Please note that Scru­ta­tor has adapted this quote and edited out the ig­no­ra­mus’s name be­cause it should not be dig­ni­fied by be­ing pub­lished in this ven­er­a­ble col­umn.

We all know that Ntate Har­ring­ton’s crime has been to ex­press a view that we all share that Le­sotho is go­ing to be a far much bet­ter place if SADC rec­om­men­da­tions are im­ple­mented.

Scru­ta­tor is happy that there were no tak­ers for this ridicu­lous march to the US em­bassy. Of course we might have dif­fer­ences with Un­cle Sam and his tac­tics. But why should we stage a protest against the only tra­di­tional em­bassy left in Le­sotho. Af­ter all, this is no or­di­nary em­bassy but belongs to Un­cle Sam. The Un­cle who is feed­ing us through mas­sive sup­port to the health and education sec­tors and through a plethora of other pro­grammes im­ple­mented via the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Ac­count.

One rea­son put for­ward to jus­tify this in­credulity was that the march would equally be meant to show sup­port for the Prime Min­is­ter.

I am pretty sure Ntate Mo­sisili would have been em­bar­rassed by such a gib­ber­ish idea of show­ing him love.

There are cer­tainly bet­ter ways. Af­ter all, his party’s red colour de­picts end­less love which can be ex­pressed with­out re­sort to silly protests.

In the end, the protest march was still­born. The ig­no­ra­mus, who leads a fac­tion, of a fac­tion, of a fac­tion, of a fac­tion, of a fac­tion, in a one seat po­lit­i­cal party is now rarely heard of. Much to the good of proper po­lit­i­cal dis­course in this coun­try.

No one bet­ter con­trib­uted to this good state of af­fairs than Ntate Litjobo.

Then comes the con­tro­ver­sial is­sue of Fleet­gate. On this one, Ntate Litjobo has ex­celled even more. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not sup­port­ing Ntate Litjobo be­cause of his high end state­ments against Mme Khaketla, the fi­nance min­is­ter.

No. I wouldn’t know whether or not it’s true that Mme Khaketla tried to stuff her hand­bag be­fore sign­ing away the lu­cra­tive con­tract. If ever such a re­quest was made, lady Scru­ta­tor was not there.

Mme Khaketla has de­nied such and threat­ened Ntate Litjobo with le­gal action. Let that very se­ri­ous mat­ter play it­self out in court. It is not rea­son for my sup­port for Ntate Litjobo.

My rea­son for the sup­port is sim­ple; he is one of the most prin­ci­pled politi­cians I have ever met. Ntate Litjobo is 100 per­cent right that the fleet man­age­ment con­tract should never have been ex­ter­nal­ized to Bid­vest.

If Litjobo’s fig­ures are cor­rect (and they might as well be since he is close to the centre of power), Le­sotho will be fork­ing out in ex­cess of M70 mil­lion to Bid­vest monthly. That’s a hefty fig­ure hey.

My ques­tion is sim­ple. If we Ba­sotho can­not buy cars, put petrol in them, drive them up and down the coun­try as we do our govern­ment work, keep proper log books to mon­i­tor us­age and keep garages to main­tain them, then what are we ever go­ing to be able to do and achieve on this earth?

How does one ex­plain such na­tional in­com­pe­tence? Surely main­tain­ing a fleet of cars us­ing a man­ual or com­put­er­ized sys­tem should be the eas­i­est of tasks to do?

Do you think South Africa will ever out­source its fleet man­age­ment service to Le­sotho? Never. It will never hap­pen. So why should we ex­port such a sim­ple task at a huge cost to our­selves?

Af­ter all, we Ba­sotho, are well renowned car wash en­trepreneurs. Why shouldn’t we be am­bi­tious enough to con­trol the en­tire value chain from buy­ing the car up un­til pol­ish­ing it in our car wash bays? Why should a for­eign com­pany be al­lowed to man­age our fleet? I will never un­der­stand the logic.

I am thus with Ntate Litjobo 100 per­cent that it was wrong to hire a for­eign com­pany at a huge cost to man­age our fleet. Fleet man­age­ment ought to be one of the sim­plest of tasks that a coun­try can do for it­self.

It’s un­like con­struct­ing a new rocket for the en­vis­aged am­bi­tion to put hu­mans on Mars. Imag­ine im­port­ing your sec­ond-hand car from Ja­pan and then giv­ing it to your neigh­bour to man­age it? The govern­ment erred on this one and Ntate Litjobo is right.

Then comes the fact of his sim­ple brav­ery. When he and his fel­low DC youth league lead­ers made their high end al­le­ga­tions against Mme Khaketla and de­nounced Fleet­gate, other youth lead­ers ended up join­ing the great Ba­sotho trek into ex­ile. But not Ntate Litjobo.

He dared chal­lenge the youth league’s de­trac­tors to come to him if ever they wanted him. Surely, isn’t that the high pin­na­cle of brav­ery and prin­ci­ple if you con­sider that flee­ing Le­sotho had be­come rou­tine.

At the rate things were go­ing, I surely feared that it would no longer make news when­ever any­body de­cided to flee the coun­try. It would only be­come news when no one fled.

The media had be­come so re­plete with news of Ba­sotho flee­ing that flee­ing sto­ries had be­come a monotony for me. It would make bet­ter news if no one fled for the week.

That’s be­sides the point how­ever. The point is that one needs nerves of steel for them to dare their en­e­mies like Ntate Litjobo did. Con­sider his de­ci­sion to rise above the fray and in­vite lead­ers of op­po­si­tion youth leagues to his party. Surely, isn’t that the ma­tu­rity we need even at na­tional level.

I could go on and on with ex­am­ples of in­stances of Ntate Litjobo’s good judg­ment and prin­ci­ples. But the space I am al­lowed here won’t en­able me to do that.

Let me stop here and say the DC is lucky to have such in­tel­li­gent and prin­ci­pled youth league lead­ers. In­stead of cur­tail­ing them, en­cour­age them. To that end I say: Litjobo, Litjobo and more Litjobo.


DC youth league leader Thuso Litjobo.

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