‘DC feud all about succession’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

THIS week, the Na­tional Assem­bly has been the cen­tre of at­ten­tion for most Ba­sotho af­ter Demo­cratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki, Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ralechate ’Mokose, for­mer Law Min­is­ter Mokhele Mo­let­sane and for­mer Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Deputy Min­is­ter Kotiti Li­holo moved to the cross­bench to sig­nify their with­drawal from the gov­ern­ment.

This was af­ter the DC’S Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) pulled out of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment cit­ing cor­rup­tion, nepo­tism and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­la­tions with de­vel­op­ment part­ners among other rea­sons.

In light of these un­prece­dented events, Le­sotho Times ( LT) reporter, Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane, speaks with po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, Nthak­eng Pheello Selinyane, of the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho about the likely sce­nar­ios go­ing for­ward.

LT: Fol­low­ing the DC NEC’S an­nounce­ment it was with­draw­ing from gov­ern­ment, a lot of is­sues have been dis­cussed in re­la­tion to the state of af­fairs in par­lia­ment and the struc­ture of gov­ern­ment. What is your view on these is­sues?

Selinyane: Shortly af­ter win­ning the 2007 elec­tions, Ntate (Pakalitha) Mo­sisili said the peo­ple who de­fected from the then rul­ing Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) to form the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) “were last seen de­scend­ing into the river with a mis­sion of cross­ing it, but they never emerged on the other side of the river”. He was re­fer­ring to 17 MPS who de­fected from the LCD in 2006 to form ABC with the hope of form­ing the next gov­ern­ment. Today, we have peo­ple who have an­nounced them­selves to have crossed the floor and with­drew them­selves from the gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, they have not adopted a new iden­tity in terms form­ing a new party. In other words, they are like a white bar­rier line in a high­way. What they are propos­ing, which is a self-res­o­lu­tion of a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, will not come to pass as such. The rea­son why I say it is a self-res­o­lu­tion is that Ntate Moleleki uses state­ments like “we are not go­ing to pass a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence, we will just wait there un­til the prime min­is­ter does the right thing.” The “right thing” would seem to be that the prime min­is­ter ad­mits he has lost num­bers in par­lia­ment and re­signs.

But si­mul­ta­ne­ously Ntate Moleleki is also say­ing ex­plic­itly that they will wait pa­tiently un­til this minority gov­ern­ment will be forced to come back to them for the bud­get. This is be­cause the gov­ern­ment can avoid all sorts of things in par­lia­ment, but not the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion among other emer­gen­cies. What is cer­tain is that at least once a year, gov­ern­ment will have to go back to par­lia­ment to get a bud­get. This is why Ntate Moleleki says they might wait for them to come to par­lia­ment for bud­get and then they will refuse to give them the bud­get.

Ntate Moleleki has fur­ther sug­gested an in­clu­sive gov­ern­ment or Gov­ern­ment of Na­tional Unity (GNU). But he can­not do that with peo­ple who don’t want to en­ter into any part­ner­ship with him. These are very fas­ci­nat­ing sce­nar­ios be­cause sup­pose they were able to cob­ble some sort of gov­ern­ment of that com­plex­ion, who is go­ing to be the head of gov­ern­ment?

LT: But what ex­actly led to this?

Selinyane: We know that what has brought us here is not so much the hic­cups in terms of pub­lic fi­nance man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, cor­rup­tion, di­vi­sion­ism and nepo­tis­tic things as Ntate Moleleki and his fol­low­ers put it. We know that the car­di­nal point that has brought us here is succession. And this succession is­sue goes back to be­tween 2002 and 2007.

At that time, some peo­ple wanted Ntate Moleleki to go home and oth­ers were al­ready see­ing the hand of Ntate Mpho Malie be­hind the cur­tain with Ntate (Mo­thetjoa) Mets­ing seen as his pup­pet. Ntate Malie was seen as com­pet­ing with Ntate Moleleki for the succession in the Sixth Par­lia­ment be­tween 2002 and 2007. But Ntate Malie vol­un­teered to go on re­tire­ment even­tu­ally.

These peo­ple were fight­ing for succession sim­ply be­cause of the pres­tige the po­si­tion holds. For in­stance, be­cause Ntate (Thomas) Tha­bane is a for­mer prime min­is­ter, he has ben­e­fits that are al­most sim­i­lar to some­one cur­rently hold­ing the po­si­tion. Both Ntate Tha­bane and his spouse still get 80 per­cent of the salary they earned while they were in of­fice.

They still have other ben­e­fits like chauf­feurs and gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cles. This is what has brought us here. But in our sit­u­a­tion, when some­body is in power, and that is while he is still in of­fice, he has con­trol over the na­tional trea­sury. Be­cause our ac­count­abil­ity struc­tures are still very much dys­func­tional, when some­one is in power, he owns the na­tional trea­sury as if it is his per­sonal as­set.

You be­gin to see their fam­i­lies ben­e­fit­ing more from that. They will then di­rect favours to their friends. In my view, Ntate Moleleki is not try­ing to cure the is­sue of cor­rup­tion in gov­ern­ment. Ntate Moleleki, and some of his fol­low­ers in his Liru­rubele fac­tion, might not be the most qual­i­fied to speak so much against cor­rup­tion. In other words, they can­not claim they are not cor­rupt them­selves.

LT: Can you sub­stan­ti­ate your ar­gu­ment about succession be­ing the ma­jor is­sue here?

Selinyane: The im­me­di­ate back­ground to this re­mains that bar­rage of ac­cu­sa­tions by the DC youth league pres­i­dent, Ntate Thuso Litjobo, against the party’s women’s league pres­i­dent, Dr Pon­tšo ’Ma­tumelo Seka­tle, over her state­ment that when the prime min­is­ter, Dr Mo­sisili, is not avail­able, the deputy prime min­is­ter, Ntate Mets­ing, au­to­mat­i­cally takes over. And Dr Seka­tle was cor­rect. I don’t see why this had to bog­gle Mr Litjobo so much.

Sim­ple logic dic­tates that im­me­di­ately when Dr Mo­sisili ab­sents him­self from of­fice, Ntate Mets­ing takes over. If Dr Mo­sisili may ab­sent him­self from of­fice for good, still Ntate Mets­ing will stay in that of­fice un­til such time a big­ger party in the coali­tion, which in the case re­mains DC, has iden­ti­fied some­one to sub­stan­tively re­place Dr Mo­sisili, as per the coali­tion agree­ment. I don’t know why Mr Litjobo and his peo­ple con­fused Dr Seka­tle’s state­ment to mean she was bet­ting for Ntate Mets­ing in the succession.

The time Ntate Mo­sisili started say­ing there were peo­ple in the party court­ing na­tion­al­ists and con­spir­ing to form another was around the same time the new DC youth league ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee was elected. In fact, the en­tire com­mit­tee was al­ready be­lieved to be more aligned to Ntate Moleleki than to Ntate Mo­sisili.

Dur­ing the youth elec­tive con­fer­ence, Ntate Mo­sisili said there were peo­ple who un­der­mined him and called him an old horse who should re­tire. He def­i­nitely had some peo­ple in mind be­cause he even said some of them were min­is­ters who failed to win their con­stituen­cies, nonethe­less.

Re­mem­ber LCD spokesper­son Te­boho Sekata’s leaked au­dio record­ing in which he re­vealed that Ntate Tha­bane and Ntate Moleleki were hold­ing talks to form a new gov­ern­ment. He said Ntate Moleleki had few MPS sup­port­ing him who could cross the floor in par­lia­ment. By this, he meant that most MPS who fol­lowed Ntate Moleleki held pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) seats and there­fore were un­able to cross the floor un­less they were ready to be dis­missed from par­lia­ment. The DC has 47 seats. Out of that, 10 are PR seats. Now what Mr Sekata im­plied was that Ntate Moleleki was be­ing fol­lowed by prob­a­bly only the 10 MPS in PR seats.

LT: From what you are say­ing, it looks like Dr Mo­sisili knew from way back the DC was di­vided with some peo­ple con­spir­ing to oust him. What has he done to ad­dress the prob­lem?

Selinyane: Ntate Mo­sisili failed to hold a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion con­fer­ence which was sup­posed to bring to­gether all the party’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees. In­stead, he climbed to the top of the moun­tain and started rolling down rocks, which is some­thing he was not sup­posed to be do­ing. He re­peat­edly failed to bring to­gether the two fac­tions, Liru­rubele and Lithope, to­gether as one party. As the leader, Ntate Mo­sisili should be a glue that binds the party to­gether.

He failed be­cause he al­ways puts him­self above oth­ers. This is ev­i­dent in his state­ments where he says: “You (re­fer­ring to party mem­bers) will suf­fer… I will sur­vive… You will be ruled by your en­e­mies, while I stay afloat.”

He sees him­self as a sep­a­rate en­tity from the DC mem­bers. That is how he fails to be a bind­ing fig­ure – his for­tunes are not aligned to theirs. Ntate Mo­sisili does not even pre­tend that he has the means of rein­ing in ev­ery­body and shep­herd­ing them to the com­mon stream.

LT: What’s your take on the way the DC NEC has dealt with this mat­ter? Do you think the com­mit­tee will suc­ceed in its mis­sion to form a new gov­ern­ment?

Selinyane: For Ntate Moleleki and his fol­low­ers to suc­ceed, they would have to be de­clared as the cus­to­di­ans of the DC’S per­sona. Al­though they might not move to force the hand of those who are not sup­port­ing them in the party, they will have to fight to be de­clared by a court of law as the cus­to­di­ans of the DC brand.

LT: Ntate Moleleki has said they al­ready have over 20 MPS on their side.

Selinyane: If they have num­bers, why have we only seen four peo­ple cross­ing so far? A crit­i­cal ques­tion re­mains to be an­swered; is the chair­per­son of the NEC who is also the party leader, Ntate Mo­sisili, aware and con­cur­ring with the meet­ing that de­cided to with­draw the party from gov­ern­ment? Did he con­vene that meet­ing or did he give sanc­tion to the meet­ing to pro­ceed with­out him? When it had pro­ceeded with­out him did he ac­cede to its out­comes? Even in the most demo­cratic or­gan­i­sa­tions, lead­ers are sup­posed to be im­bued with a cer­tain mys­ti­cal sta­tus.

The leader’s voice mat­ters a lot. A leader can dis­pense with any mem­ber, even his deputy. The ABC deputy leader, Ntate Tlali Khasu, is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple. He has been sus­pended from the party by the leader. It is like that. The leader holds every­one’s fate ex­cept him­self. This is why even where the NEC can in­sti­tute a dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against any mem­ber, the cul­mi­na­tion of that is to sub­mit its rec­om­men­da­tion be­fore the leader to ap­prove or dis­ap­prove. That, in it­self, says if Ntate Mo­sisili was not part of the meet­ing, that meet­ing is likely to be de­clared ill-con­sti­tuted.

The present de­ba­cle in the DC sug­gests that the leader and his deputy are miles apart. The ques­tion is who, be­tween the two of them, rep­re­sents the DC in par­lia­ment? The deputy prime min­is­ter, Ntate Mets­ing, has tossed a very in­ter­est­ing sce­nario, where he says the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence, if it comes, could be frus­trated un­til the end of the life of this par­lia­ment through a court chal­lenge.

LT: What about Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Ntl­hoi Mot­samai; can’t she make a rul­ing over this stale­mate?

Selinyane: It is within her pow­ers to do so. She could have done it but she doesn’t want to do it promptly. She has not read the let­ter from the DC. Had she read it, she would have re­quest the DC MPS to then cross the floor. It’s not for her to in­quire whether the let­ter is le­git­i­mately from the DC or not.

Ntate Mo­sisili failed to hold a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion con­fer­ence which was sup­posed to bring to­gether all the party’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees. In­stead, he climbed to the top of the moun­tain and started rolling down rocks, which is some­thing he was not sup­posed to be do­ing

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Nthak­eng Pheello Selinyane.

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