‘Mosisili the cause of congress splits’
THE High Court last Friday endorsed Democratic Congress (DC) leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s suspension of 10 DC National Executive Committee (NEC) members aligned to former deputy leader Monyane Moleleki.
Dr Mosisili went on to suspend Mr Moleleki and nine other NEC members for six years during a special conference held during the weekend. Mr Moleleki has since announced plans to form a new political party.
In this interview, Lesotho Times ( LT) reporter Lekhetho Ntsukunyane speaks to former DC Youth League (DCYL) President Thuso Litjobo, who is among the nine suspended NEC members, on the tumultuous events of the past week and their strategy going forward.
LT: You are known to be a staunch supporter of Mr Moleleki who announced this week he intends to form a new party. Again, where does this leave you and the rest of his followers in the DC?
Litjobo: You are definitely right that I am a supporter of Ntate Moleleki and his latest decision to form a party and leave the DC affects me. Unfortunately, as we speak, I am not in a position to say how Ntate Moleleki’s decision has affected my political stance in relation to my membership in the DC. I can only tell you that within 48 hours from now, I would be able to clearly give you our stance.
LT: Following a resolution by the special conference to suspend you, have you received any formal communication to that effect?
Litjobo: There hasn’t been any such communication. But as things stand, we all know that my position in the DCYL has not been affected by such a resolution.
LT: In the circumstances, what does the future hold for your political career?
Litjobo: The fact of the matter is that I don’t believe there is any youth who hopes he or she has a bright future in politics while he or she is still following Ntate Pakalitha Mosisili.
To directly answer your question, there is no political future for me if I am still be following Ntate Mosisili. As long as Ntate Mosisili remains leader of any political party, that party’s youths don’t have a future.
LT: Why do you say that?
Litjobo: Ntate Mosisili is one of the most conventional political leaders, if not the only one in this country, who doesn’t care about the development of the youths at all. What he does is identify an individual whom he likes with all his heart, but he doesn’t believe in the youths in general. He will not support anything that fosters the development of youths.
For instance, there is no other youth leader in any political party that Ntate Mosisili was a member of who supported him the way I did. But look at how he repays me! If the youths in politics cannot wake up now and realise how Ntate Mosisili undermines them, then it is a pity for those who still believe in him.
One reason I was elected DCYL leader was because the party youths knew how much I supported and remained loyal to Ntate Mosisili and his (then) deputy Ntate Moleleki. Even when I was criticising Ntate Mosisili’s government, I always said he was exceptional.
LT: But there is view that one of reasons the DC has now effectively split is because of you. People say you contributed to the split by “making noise” about the alleged corruption in government and by criticising some of the DC officials openly in the media. What do you say to that?
Litjobo: I think people who hold that opinion are not being fair. They are turning a blind eye to real issues. If you believe what you are doing is right, you need not fear pointing out your leaders’ wrongdoings. That is called principles.
But for people who are cowards, they will always say the leader is right even where that is not the case. Some people are quick to forget where we come from, while others are not aware at all of where we come from.
They only picked up on these issues after they intensified recently. Most people don’t know that the DC was almost split from the time it was formed in 2012. There were already at least two factions in the party from day one of its formation! We, as the DCYL committee, cannot be blamed today about the DC split.
LT: Can you elaborate?
Litjobo: The DC was formed in February 2012 after factionalism escalated in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), of which we were all members. You will recall the LCD factions were code-named Litima-mollo (firefighters) and Lija-mollo (fire eaters), just like we have Lirurubele (butterflies) and Lithope (girlfriends) in the DC today. Now, when the DC was formed, it was supposed to have been formed by the then Lija-mollo members who fled from the Litima-mollo.
But for some reason, we still had some disguised Litima-mollo members among us. They were quick to show their true colours immediately following the DC’S formation. That is the split I am referring to. Unfortunately, our leaders chose to ignore this fact and failed to address it on time. I fought hard to bar the Litima-mollo people within the DC from destabilising the party in the same way as they did in the LCD.
And because they knew I was committed to frustrating their mission, they wanted to destroy me in whatever possible manner. I repeatedly reported these issues to the DC leadership but I think people didn’t take it seriously.
In fact, it eventually came to my attention that I was reporting to the leadership where some of its members were actually sponsoring the spirit of Litima-mollo. In other words, some of our leaders in the DC were actually still Litima-mollo.
They did not want to take any disciplinary measures against their people. When I reported such issues, they would laugh behind my back. Following the 2012 elections, Ntate Mosisili made it clear he was not going to be the leader of opposition in parliament.
His intention was to give that position to his deputy, Ntate Moleleki. But still the Litima-mollo people, like ’Me Likeleli Tampane and Ntate Mathibeli Mokhothu, were against that idea.
People think it was easy for Ntate Moleleki to be given the position of leader of opposition. It was not. People fought against it. Those are the same destructive elements within the DC even today as the party splits. Even Dr Pontšo Sekatle was against Ntate Moleleki’s appointment as leader of opposition.
LT: But why are they against the Ntate Moleleki?
Litjobo: One of the issues they have raised is that Ntate Moleleki uses me to destabilise their constituencies. They say he gives me his cars to travel from one constituency to the other to identify other DC members who can compete with them ( Litima-mollo) during primary elections.
Because they are weak, Litima-mollo have always advocated for divisions within the congress parties because that is the only way they can maneuver their way to the top positions they are hungry for. They have always told Ntate Mosisili lies about Ntate Moleleki using me to undermine them. Ntate Moleleki has not done that.
LT: But is it true you frequented their constituencies to hold campaigns?
Litjobo: No. I was so busy making sure the DC grew and garnered more support elsewhere but not in their constituencies because that is their responsibility, not mine. It was not possible for me to go to one constituency after another even if Ntate Moleleki gave me his cars. My only interest was ensuring that the DC grew.
LT: From what you are saying, it seems like Ntate Moleleki is a threat to some people in the DC. Why is that?
Litjobo: Ntate Moleleki has the qualities of a good leader. He is able to devote his attention to the people. He takes care of his followers. He respects the nation. He is friendly and easily approachable by any member of society.
Unlike, many people in the DC leadership, Ntate Moleleki is not arrogant. Most significantly, Ntate Moleleki is committed to creating a better future for our youths. When I talk about the youths, I am not referring to the DC youths only.
For instance, there are several parliamentarians in the National Assembly who made it there through the assistance and support of Ntate Moleleki. I can name people like Mokhele Moletsane, Refiloe Litjobo, Tjoetsane Seoka and Mathibeli Mokhothu among others.
Ntate Mokhothu, who is now DC deputy leader, received financial support from Ntate Moleleki’s family to be where he is today. I should not forget ’Me Likeleli Tampane who also received financial support from Ntate Moleleki for a long time.
It is surprising that they are fighting Ntate Moleleki today. Ntate Moleleki contributed a lot into what Ntate Mosisili is today. Ntate Moleleki first got into the executive committees of the congress parties in 1992. Ntate Mosisili came in four years later, around 2006. Ntate Moleleki contributed a lot for Ntate Mosisili to win primary elections in his Tsoelike constituency in 1993 in the Basotho Congress Party.
LT: From the youths’ point of view, what do you think is the real problem within the congress parties causing these perennial splits?
Litjobo: The problem is not congress parties or the followers, but the leader. In Lesotho, there is no political leader who is more talented in causing divisions in parties they lead than Ntate Mosisili. Ntate Mosisili is famous for inciting factions in his parties. During his leadership of the LCD, four parties have emerged as a result of splitting.
No other political leader has broken that record. From 1998, when he took over the leadership of the LCD, the Lesotho People’s Congress was formed in 2001. In 2006, the LCD, again under his leadership, experienced a split through the formation of the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
But still Ntate Mosisili regarded himself a good leader. On 25 February 2012, the DC was formed as a breakaway from the LCD under his leadership. On Monday 5 December 2016, a fourth party breaking away from Ntate Mosisili’s leadership was announced by his former deputy Ntate Moleleki. During the formation of the DC, Ntate Mosisili made a solemn promise that the party would not experience a breakaway under his leadership.
In other words, he said the DC could only split if he is no longer its leader. What do we say now? ABC is older than DC in terms of the period since they were established. ABC was formed in 2006 and DC in 2012, but ABC has not split even once.