Scrutator: From Mashmallow to Kingmaker

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LCD Leader Mothetjoa Metsing
LCD Leader Mothetjoa Metsing

Love him or hate him. You just cannot take away his now entrenched attribute as the ultimate survivor. He is indeed Mr Survivor. For the foreseeable future, we will have to accept and live with Mothetjoa Metsing’s now entrenched role as the Kingmaker in Lesotho’s politics. He brought down a government.
He has just given life to another. While Cyclone Tom has been dispatched to Habia, with tail firmly between legs, Metsing gets to keep his perquisites. The more his Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) implodes, like its latest dismal two constituency seats win, the more Metsing’s star seems to rise. Politics can be strange after all.
Even if the LCD loses the two seats in 2020 (assuming the new coalition lasts that far) I can bet an ounce of my flesh that Mr Survivor will make it again. He will definitely be part of any post 2020 coalition. A caller to Harvest FM last week described Metsing as a political “prostitute”. I disagree completely. In politics you are allowed to be as mercurial as you can be.
By bringing the curtain down on his coalition with Cyclone Tom, Metsing must have known that he was taking a huge risk. If Cyclone Tom had won, as he nearly did, there is no doubt Metsing would have been in deep trouble.
The entire power of Cyclone Thomas was preparing to Frblow him away and have him cremated. He took the risk, nevertheless, instead of cossetting Tom to save their troubled marriage in the hope that he would then be spared.

Last week I said Metsing was the biggest winner of this election. He is the proverbial cat with nine lives. I promised to find a new description for him as it is no longer fair nor just to continue describing him as a marshmallow. In a nation where the expected norm is to revere the monarchy, his open declaration that King Letsie III can be sued exemplifies a high level of guts.
Metsing is no more a softie-softie. I had wanted to see how he fares in the new coalition first before affording him a new epithet. That is not necessary. Based on the current realities, I think I can safely afford him a new label; The Kingmaker or
The Survivor. Kingmaker is probably most fitting and more respectful. But I will use it interchangeably with Mr Survivor. In fact either description is more respectable than the Mr Marshmallow label which I will discontinue forthwith.
The good think in the venerable books of Scrutator is that everyone earn their stripes. Metsing has had his fair share of censure in this column.
But when someone works hard to prove a point and achieves success, I am always the first to acknowledge. By walking away from Cyclone Tom and agreeing on a new election, which he was never sure to win, Metsing proved that he is no longer a softie or a marshmallow. He is a hard-man.

The longevity of Mr Size Two’s new coalition is also entirely depended on Metsing as the Kingmaker. If he gets fed up and withdraws his 12 seats, the new coalition effectively collapses. Never rule out anything in the strange world of politics.
When Metsing and Thabane were making love (not in the literal sense) at Lesotho Sun after May 2012, sharing queen cakes over rooibos tea while putting the final touches to their marriage, no one would have predicted that it would end in an acrimonious divorce a short two plus years after.
I remember bumping into them while they plotted to bury Size Two and remarking to myself then that “this is a marriage made in the higher heavens”. What has since happened between the two is now history.
But a situation in which Metsing might rush back to Thabane and say “Ntate, I am sorry I ditched you. It has not worked with Mr Size Two. Let’s get into bed again and aim for new orgasms ….” cannot be ruled out. What all this underscores of course is Metsing’s indisputable role as Lesotho’s ultimate Kingmaker; thanks partly to our generous electoral system.

The crucial thing for Metsing to now recognise is that his Kingmaker role is not only good for his politics of survival. It also comes with immense responsibility. The sooner the Kingmaker takes responsibility the better.
The courts have for instance dismissed Metsing’s bid to halt the DCEO’s graft allegations against him. The Kingmaker cannot allow this cloud to hang over him indefinitely. This is a matter that cannot simply be wished away. Scrutator and many Basotho want to know the source of all that moolah that flowed into the Kingmaker’s account. It’s not a crime in itself to have cash flowing into anybody’s account as long as this is accountable moolah.
The Kingmaker was quick to announce that Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Thetsane, is now free to have his job for as long as he wants after Cyclone Tom’s earlier attempts to drown Thetsane down the deep oceans. Is this some attempt at some kind of trade off? Me thinks it was not wise for the Kingmaker to make such a pronouncement. Remember not only Scrutator, but the entire world is watching.
Me thinks the wise thing for the Kingmaker to do is to cooperate with the DCEO over this matter fully.
If I were him, I would make a public statement explaining where I got this money and clear the issue once and for all. I would then concentrate on rebuilding the LCD into the formidable force that it once was without a cloud hanging over me.
It will also be interesting to see how Size Two is going to pronounce himself on this matter. It is a matter that cannot simply be wished away. Will Size Two say to the DCEO and other curious Basotho; “to hell with you all. Leave my Kingmaker alone. He has no case to answer. After all his main role was to make me, which he has done.
Everything else is useless”. Or will Mr Size Two say; “The law must take its course. If my deputy has a case to answer, let the law take its course. . . I as Size Two also wants to know the source of this moolah”
But more curiously, how will the DPP tread after the promise that he can keep his job for as long as he wants. Remember, there is a very fine line between a banana and apple republic. No one wants us to slip into the former and it’s the handling of cases like this one that determines it all.

The best way out for everyone is for the Kingmaker to make a public pronouncement on the matter and clear his own name. Even if he does not disclose the whole truth, that effort alone will go a long way towards completely redeeming him and the LCD. Of course the relevant law enforcement authorities will have the final say.
But it goes without saying that were a public official makes the best effort to be accountable on any issue, they win some sympathy even if they are not telling the truth.
If this issue is not cleared once and for all, it’s one that the now main opposition leader , Cyclone Tom, will always seek to exploit to restore his political fortunes.
Not all hope is lost for the LCD despite the poor two seats performance. It all will depend on how the Kingmaker handles himself.
Just as I was impressed by Joang Molapo and Thesele Maseribane’s ill-fated efforts at rejuvenating the Basotho National Party (BNP), I see a rising star in the LCD. My rising star there is none other than the loquacious Selibe Mochoboroane. It is no mean feat for Mochoboroane to be the only other LCD man to win a constituency after the leader himself.
Apparently, news coming out of his constituency is that this young man from Mafeteng has made his Thabana-Morena constituency a no go area for any other party. While all the other LCD stalwarts were losing all the constituencies won in 2012, Mochoboroane was winning his constituency with an even bigger margin. It’s called the Mochoboroane Magic. For him to have done so well in a heartland of his political adversaries can only mean that Mochoboroane is a politician par excellence.

LCD Deputy Spokesperson Mr Selibe Mochoboroane
LCD Deputy Spokesperson Mr Selibe Mochoboroane

Mochoboroane’s opponents love dismissing him as an intellectual dwarf or midget. They are very wrong. This young man is an astute politician and I think the fortunes of the LCD now squarely rest in his hands. If I were Metsing, I would make full use of Mochoboroane.
I would afford him a very senior national role in the party and enable him to lead the party’s national political rejuvenation programme to win back lost support. In fact I would appoint him as my deputy to replace the glum Motloheloa Phooko and order everyone to accept the appointment outside congress.
There is no doubt that if Mochoboroane can do for the LCD, at the national level, what he did for the party in his own constituency, then the party might fare better in the future.
The Kingmaker surely cannot want to be a perpetual deputy to someone else in coalitions. With Mochoboroane leading the politics, I will rope in Josh Setipa to direct policy so the LCD can have an attractive policy platform to woo voters other than its manifesto promising to build gravel roads.

Just as I have done with many others, I have already put Setipa through the mill and groomed him into a good politician. There is no doubt that Setipa has an intelligent brain and is far ahead of the ubiquitous boloney that populate our political landscape. Equally good is outgoing Energy minister and acting LCD secretary general Tšeliso Mokhosi.
There is no doubt the Kingmaker has no shortage of human resources on which to build a formidable political machine. It’s his failure to use them effectively that seems to be a bane for the LCD. I will not be surprised if he lets these three good LCD politicians go.
If that happens, the LCD is dead. Without Mochoboroane, Mokhosi and Setipa, the LCD is dead. So I say to you Metsing, I have devoted this entire column to acknowledge your now indisputable role as the Kingmaker and to give you free advice on how you can consolidate your position and improve your party’s fortunes.
As usual, be wise and embrace this advice. Or ignore it at your own peril as a perpetual deputy . . . Ache!!!!

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