MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) youth league is reportedly seeking a police permit to march to Communications Minister Mothetja Metsing’s office as they ratchet up pressure on the minister to resign, the Lesotho Times heard this week.
This follows raucous scenes witnessed at Moshoeshoe I International Airport on Tuesday when party youths demanded that Metsing should pack his bags and leave the LCD.
The few hundred youths had gone to the airport to welcome Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from a UN summit in New York.
The youths also called on Mosisili, who is the president of the LCD, to fire Metsing from his post of communications minister.
The youths said Metsing was a traitor who had gone behind Mosisili’s back when he spoke to former United States ambassador Robert Nolan about the Prime Minister’s leadership style.
“You are a traitor,” they shouted.
The Lesotho Times witnessed the drama as it unfolded at the airport.
The youths held a large banner with the party’s trademark colours of red, green and black, and other hand-made placards that were inscribed with disparaging remarks about Metsing.
They also danced and sang derogatory songs about the minister.
“Lion of the Mountain (Mosisili), this is enough. Fire the minister of communications, science and technology. The LCD has to live,” read one of the placards.
“Metsing The Traitor!! You sold our LEADER to foreigners. Go home please, We don’t need you. Ea Fofa!!! Metsing tsamaea ha re u hloke! Khuuooe!!!” read one banner in the vernacular Sesotho language.
“We are tired!!
Metsing, you have set some of the youth on the LCD leader, to disparage his name and disrespect him,” read another placard.
“Mosisili for Life!! Khuuooe, Metsing!! (Get lost Metsing),” read another placard.
They also accused Metsing of being sympathetic to opposition All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane who resigned from the LCD in 2006.
“Metsing has never supported our leader but has always been Tom’s ally. He was left behind by mistake in 2006,” read another placard.
Present at the airport were the LCD youth league chairman Thuso Litjobo, league president Mosala Mojakisane, spokesperson Mpaballeng Motjetjepa and secretary general Lebaka Bulane.
But Metsing was not the only minister who came under fire from the youth league.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa, who was part of Mosisili’s entourage to New York, also received his fair share of insults.
“Metsing and Tsekoa must go,” read one of the placards.
Tsekoa is the LCD deputy chairman.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times on Tuesday a member of the disbanded youth executive, Molebatseng Makhata, said their gripe with Metsing stemmed from the Wikileaks cables released on August 30.
In the cable Metsing is said to have told Nolan, that Mosisili “has dictatorial tendencies”.
Makhata said they were not happy with the comments. They said Metsing stabbed Mosisili in the back during his confidential discussions with the US envoy.
When Metsing finally tried to leave the airport the youths followed him hurling more insults at him.
Metsing remained calm and did not respond.
Shortly afterwards he hopped into his car and his driver sped off.
Asked why the youths were targeting Metsing when the cables had mentioned other government ministers, Koro-Koro constituency chairman, Thabo Litjobo, said this was because “he is the strongest of them all”.
“We want to rip Metsing apart because he’s the strongest of them all. If we destroy him, then dealing with the rest will be a walk in the park,” Litjobo said.
Mosisili, who has in the past admitted there are bitter factional fights within his party, appeared stunned by the messages on the placards.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Lehohla admitted that he and Mosisili were “taken aback by the events at the airport”.
“To our knowledge and understanding, there was absolutely no plan to harass the secretary general. It also took us by surprise,” Lehohla said.
“The reality is that the youth feel the way they do about these issues and we have finally seen it in action.”
Pressed further to explain if the party was going to institute any disciplinary action against the youth league Lehohla said what had happened at the airport was “part of a long political process”.
“If you decide to take disciplinary measures against this group without looking at both sides of the coin and establishing the root cause of the behaviour, you would be making a mistake,” Lehohla said.
“You have to appreciate that this is a process. What happened was just an event of its kind. It’s a symptom of issues that need immediate attention.”