LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, says despite souring relations with the Democratic Congress (DC), its former leader Pakalitha Mosisili will always have a special place in his heart.
Mr Metsing likened the bad blood between the LCD and the DC to emotionally “draining sibling rivalries which are uglier than fights with enemies”.
He said this while addressing an LCD rally early this week in Thaba-Phatšoa, Leribe.
All has not been well between the LCD and the DC ever since Mr Mathibeli Mokhothu succeeded Dr Mosisili as DC leader in January 2019.
Sources familiar with the developments in the opposition parties say that Messrs Mokhothu and Mr Metsing are fighting over who is the greatest in the ranks of the opposition and congress movement. The sources say that while Mr Metsing was happy to defer to Dr Mosisili, he now feels the latter’s retirement has opened the door for him to assume that mantle. “As one who served as deputy prime minister and is much older than Ntate Mokhothu, Ntate Metsing is not willing to play second fiddle and he feels the mantle of congress leader has passed to him from Ntate Mosisili,” one source said of the sour relations between the 52 year-old Mr Metsing and the 41 year-old Mr Mokhothu.
Tensions that had been simmering between Mr Mokhothu and Mr Metsing finally exploded into the open last month when the latter attacked Mr Mokhothu for allegedly belittling him and attempting to turn the country’s wool and mohair farmers against him.
The LCD subsequently lost one of its main funders, business tycoon, Bothata Mahlala, who defected to the DC late last month.
Mr Mahlala is said to have been one of the biggest funders of the LCD. He is the Managing Director of Big Bravo (Pty) Ltd- a company that was controversially awarded a M120 million tender to refurbish roads in Matala Phase 1 and Ha-Leqele in 2013. Big Bravo was awarded the tender allegedly at the instigation of Mr Metsing who was Local Government minister and deputy prime minister in the then tripartite coalition led by current Prime Minister Thomas Thabane before its collapse in 2015. Mr Mahlala has always maintained that the awarding of the tender was above board and had nothing to do with his links to political heavyweights.
His departure is the second high profile resignation from the former ruling party after that of former Mining Minister Lebohang Thotanyana who left to join the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) two months ago.
This week, Mr Metsing spoke again on the LCD-DC relations, saying he retained enormous respect for Dr Mosisili who he deputised in the previous seven parties’ coalition which took power after the 2015 collapse of his government with Dr Thabane.
“Some (DC) people are busy poking their fingers in my eyes and this is angering me but I will never disrespect Ntate Mosisili,” said Mr Metsing.
The DC was formed in 2012 after Dr Mosisili broke away from the LCD with several legislators and other party members. Mr Metsing said the two parties had always worked together to develop the country, “and that is why to date we still share a party song and ideology”.
“This (shared ideology) is the reason why it is always easy for a DC member to defect to the LCD and an LCD member to defect to the DC.
“There are many DC followers who love the LCD and its leadership and we need to accept this. We all know that we are strong when we are united and there is no need for us to be tearing each other apart.
“It is so draining when siblings fight because their fight gets uglier than when they fight their enemies. I have seen DC members hoisting our t-shirts at their rallies and I always wonder why we have to be so confrontational,” Mr Metsing said.
He was referring to an incident at a DC rally fortnight ago in Mount Moorosi where former LCD members hoisted their LCD T-shirts in the air before putting on new DC ones to show that they had jumped ship.
However, Mr Metsing believes that the two congress parties can still work together for the sake of peace and national development.
“We don’t need to be fighting like this and we know that united we stand and divided we fall. Together we can achieve big things and ensure service delivery for our people.
“I have noticed that as Basotho we love fighting more than being peaceful and we use so much energy for those fights. If only we could use the same amount of energy to eradicate hunger and poverty, we could achieve those goals in less than 20 years.”
He said Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, had still not been made to account for the deaths of at least 60 civilians at the hands of the police and yet former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, had been detained for alleged murder and human rights violations during his time in charge of the army.
He said he would soon meet with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to demand Lt-Gen Kamoli’s release on bail. Lt-Gen Kamoli has been in remand prison since his arrest in October 2017.
“More than 60 civilians have died at the hands of police but the police commissioner has not been apprehended. But former army commander Tlali Kamoli was arrested for allegedly giving directives to his subordinates (to commit acts of impunity).
“Our national focus should be on developing this country and not on persecuting one another. We have been accused of enjoying the support of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) but we have not revolted in any way because we believe that the only way to overcome our problems as a country is to unite regardless of party affiliations.
“Very soon I shall set up a meeting with Ntate Thabane to ask him why Kamoli still hasn’t been granted bail though there is an agreement in place that he and others should be released pending the finalisation of the reforms process.
“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law but why are they (Kamoli and other soldiers) still detained,” asked Mr Metsing.