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I am too young to go: PM

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says he is too young to leave office.
Mosisili, in power since 1998, says opposition leaders must instead relinquish power in their own parties first before they start calling for his exit.
Describing himself as a “spring chicken”, Mosisili told a weekend meeting of his party that he was surprised that opposition leaders calling on him to step down were actually older than him.
“The opposition leaders lament that the leader of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is refusing to step down despite our party’s landslide victory in every election,” Mosisili said.
“The funny thing about these opposition leaders is that they are way too old (ba fetile lilemo tsa bona tsa pallo . . . ke bo ntate-moholo).
“However, the LCD leader they complain about is still young, a spring chicken, compared to them.”
Opposition parties accuse Mosisili, in his third term, of “overstaying” in power.
During his tenure Lesotho has remained one of the world’s poorest countries, with unemployment and HIV and Aids compounding the situation.
The closest Mosisili has, however, talked about his political future was in September when he said he will not be “staying in power forever like other African leaders”.
The statement was interpreted as a hint that he was likely to leave office soon.
On Saturday Mosisili told the LCD leadership congress that he failed to understand “how the opposition leaders would want me to step down when they themselves are holding on to power in their own respective parties”.
“The main problem with political leaders in Lesotho is that they cling to power for dear life, even when their performance at the polls is dismal,” he added.
Mosisili, in typical fashion, also blasted the opposition for insisting on the reallocation of the disputed proportional representation seats.
Addressing hundreds of delegates and supporters who thronged Manthabiseng Convention Centre, Mosisili accused the opposition of using the dispute over the allocation of seats to divert attention from the real issues affecting the country.
“The opposition uses the PR issue as a distraction, a tactic to divert the government’s attention from important issues. Today the theme of my speech is pretence,” Mosisili said.
“The opposition pretends as though the PR issue is of fundamental importance. They are adamant about creating confusion, to occupy our attention and make us lose our way.”
He said opposition parties used the same “diversion tactics” against the Basotholand Congress Party (BCP) which later collapsed in 1997 when the majority of its MPs left to join the newly formed LCD.
“When we were still part of the BCP campaigning for the 1993 elections, we were labelled communists,” Mosisili said.
“The enemy spread the propaganda that if we emerged victorious we would transform churches into public halls and marry nuns.
“But the lie failed to stick and we ultimately emerged victorious.
“A similar fate befell the congress movement hardly three months after the LCD was formed.
“But the Langa Commission (Judge Pius Langa) cleared us of any wrongdoing.
“When the Mixed Member Proportion (MMP) model was introduced, they immediately diverted their attention to it.
“Many losers at the polls were able to reap a lot from the model as they gained entry into parliament.
“When these losers were appeased by gaining entry into parliament, they decided to capitalise on the loopholes in the MMP and started creating more problems.
“They went on the rampage in 2007, crying foul about the allocation of proportional representation seats in parliament.
“As if they had not been embarrassed enough, they also attempted to make the ABC leader the official leader of the opposition in parliament.
“They failed on that score too.”
Mosisili said the decision to reallocate the seats was for the Independent Electoral Commission to make.
“And that can only happen if the commission can convince the courts that it would be for the benefit of democracy to do so,” he said.
He said although the LCD appreciated SADC’s efforts to send Sir Ketumile Masire to mediate between the government and the opposition, “he proved to be a disappointment”.
“Whenever he came to Lesotho, the government would have to hear about his visit from the mouths of the opposition,” Mosisili said.
“He never even invited the LCD to his meetings with the opposition.”
Instead of finding a solution, Mosisili said, Masire made his own uninformed judgment “that the government was in the wrong and that the opposition were victims”.

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