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Chaltin quits politics

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — Controversial politician Moeketsi Tsatsanyane has dumped the newly formed Senkatana party in a move that he says brings to an end his political career.

Tsatsanyane, popularly known as Chaltin, says he has decided to end his political career that spanned over 41 years because he wants to dedicate his time to work for peace in Lesotho.

He has since written a letter to Senkatana informing them of his decision to leave the party and politics. 

He says unlike his other resignations in the past that ended with him joining other parties this time round he was sure that he “was done with politics”.

“I am bidding farewell to politics. My time has come and I have made up my mind,” Tsatsanyane said in an interview this week.

“I am hanging my political gloves for good. This time there is no going back.”

He says he was particularly convinced that there was no peace in this country because his son had been forced to live in exile in South Africa for two years after the 2007 political disturbances. 

His son was one of the people who fled the country after being accused of attacking ministers’ houses in political disturbances that saw the government imposing a three-day curfew.

But he says his decision became firm after last month’s attack at State House and an attempt on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s life.

“That was the time when I said I needed to do something about the issue of peace in this country. I became very sad,” says Tsatsanyane.

Tsatsanyane says he will use the Political Victims Organisation to lobby for reconciliation and peace.

He is the secretary of the organisation.

Tsatsanyane says there were no particular reasons why he left Senkatana barely a year after its formation in December last year.

“It just happened that I joined the party at a time when I was already considering leaving politics. That is all,” he said.

“I still believe that the party (Senkatana) will eventually come right.”

He said the people in Senkatana were already aware that he was on his way out of politics because this was the reason he gave when he declined nomination to the party’s national executive committee. 

“I had told them that I was on the verge of leaving politics. They understood this,” he said.

“I had always believed that when I turned 60 it would be time to leave politics.”

Tsatsanyane turned 61 on January 15.

Although quite popular, Tsatsanyane’s political career was far from being illustrious.

His friends and foes say he was rather a rubble-rouser, the type that shouted the loudest if they did not agree with a decision.

He admits that this could be the main reason why he has joined so many parties in his career.

His longest stint was with the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) which he joined in 1968 when he was just over 18.

Then the party was called Basutoland Congress Party.

He remained with the party through the time when Chief Leabua Jonathan’s government had outlawed political activities in the country.

He left the party in 2006 after the leadership revoked his membership due to a serious fall-out.

The executive told him that they would not be renewing his membership because he was “too troublesome”. 

He was the party’s deputy secretary for publicity at that time.

Trouble had started when his constituency together with 10 others protested against the executive’s decision to bar some members from attending a national conference.

“There were many of us who protested but those people (the leadership) concentrated on me,” Tsatsanyane says.

“They always concentrated on me. I don’t know why.”

He spent a few months without a political party until he joined the All Basotho Convention (ABC) at its inception in October 2006.

But problems started again because he says he “could not keep his mouth shut”.

This time he had a nasty fall-out with ABC leader Tom Thabane.

And this one was more public and fierce.

“I told Thabane that the party should not be governed by a constitution that came through the window,” he says.

“I was bitter because he was trying to dictate decisions to the members when it should be the other way round.”

He says Thabane became hysterical and launched a stinging verbal attack on him at an ABC rally. He decided to leave the party late last year.

“I said let me leave because I could not be insulted by this civil servant who had joined politics yesterday,” he told the Lesotho Times.

“I could not watch while Thabane ran the party like his personal cafe. I left him to ruin it.

“My biggest problem is that I don’t want to be bullied.

“I don’t like people who don’t have respect for majority rule.

“I don’t like men who just want to bully other people.”

He went for a few months until he joined Senkatana at its formation in December last year.

Tsatsanyane says he did not achieve much by way of positions in politics because that was not his motive in the first place.

“To me politics was never about money or positions. It  has always been about making a difference,” he says.

He says during his political career he used his monies to help the parties that he joined.

For instance, after joining the ABC he became too passionate to an extent that he painted his car in the party’s colours – yellow, green and red.

“Now that I have left politics, I intend to change its colours,” he says.

“I want to approach every political party without being labelled.”

The only record of Tsatsanyane’s contest for public office was in 2002 when he contested the general elections in the Stadium area constituency as a BCP candidate.

He lost but says he has no regrets.

When asked about his successes, he speaks in general terms.

“I wanted Lesotho democracy and BCP to rule. I think I achieved that in 1993,” he says.  

There are other successes that he stacks claim to as well.

For instance, he says he was quite instrumental, in the background though, in the toppling of Jonathan’s government.

He says Sekhobe Letsie, one of the colonels who toppled Jonathan’s government, was his personal friend.

“Letsie was my personal friend. He always told me that he was not happy with the killings and the way the country was being run,” he says.

“I told him to do something about it. I told him it was people like him in the army who could help the people.”

Tsatsanyane also claims to have helped people exiled after the 2007 disturbances to return home.

“I am the one who helped them renew their asylum documents in South Africa,” he says.

“It was during the term of a six-month extension that negotiations between the government, parents and the fugitives themselves began.”

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