MASERU – By the time he reached the age of 16 Mpho Malie was already a politically conscious teenager.
When other boys of his age were chasing girls Malie, the outgoing general secretary of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), was already involved in serious politics.
At 20 he was a student activist and a member of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP).
And by the age of 26 he had been thrown into prison for his political activities.
“It was only for a few months but that time in jail gave me the chance to meet other prominent BCP leaders. It made me realise that the fight had just begun,” Malie recalls.
He has devoted 49 years of his life to politics.
He turns 64 on July 4.
Malie left his position as the LCD general secretary on Sunday.
“Life has challenges, there are many things to do,” said Malie in a post-conference interview with the Lesotho Times.
“I am no longer young. I think it is time to give the younger generation a chance. We need this constant renewal. I believe that I have done my part as the general secretary.”
The half a century he has given to politics has put him through trials and tribulations.
He was a member of the radical Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania during the days of apartheid.
He describes that time as “horrible”.
His years at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS) were filled with turmoil because of the spirit of liberation that was sweeping through the African continent.
It is at university that his political appreciation deepened.
He met Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili at university.
The deputy Prime Minister, Lesao Lehohla was also at the same university at that time.
Just when he thought Lesotho’s Independence in 1965 was going to bring lasting peace things started going wrong.
After losing the January 1970 election, the ruling Basotho National Party refused to handover power to BCP.
Chief Leabua Jonathan refused to cede power.
Thus began the protracted battles that Basotho fought to wrestle their country from a dictatorship.
Malie was in the thick of things.
“We had thought that things were going fine but turmoil ensued. We were arrested and thrown in jail,” he said.
Even when things seemed stable the winds of instability kept threatening.
“I have seen spilt after split in politics.”
He witnessed the coup that toppled the BNP government in 1986.
The years of relative peace from 1990 has not been without setbacks.
In 1997 the LCD split from BCP.
“The 1998 disturbances strengthened out resolve to work harder towards peace and stability.”
In 2006 the All Basotho Congress was born out of LCD.
“All these are threats to our peace that we have to deal with. I am happy to say that the LCD government has done well in that regard.”
But at want point did he realise that his time was up?
“Well, it was when I realised that I needed to give the younger generation a chance. It’s the process of leadership renewal,” he said with a little stutter.
He insists that his decision to step down on Sunday was not a retirement from politics.
“I still have lots to do. I would like to do more in terms of the problem of HIV and Aids, and other social programmes.”
He said he wanted to help the party build new offices and computerise.
Although he does not say openly it is possible that Malie’s decision might have been caused by his desire to devout more time to his businesses.
He lists the setting up of the party secretariat and the increase of the party’s membership as some of his successes when he was the secretary general.
The LCD currently has 230 165 registered members.
Malie has confidence in Mothetjoa Metsing, the man who replaced him. Metsing is the current minister of Communications Science and Technology.