I don’t want Rantšo to suffer: Machabana Lemphane-Letsie


THE Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) this weekend “elected” Home Affairs Principal Secretary Machabana Lemphane-Letsie as the new leader in place of Labour and Employment Minister, Keketso Rantšo.

It remains to be seen how Ms Rantšo, who is currently out of the country on official government business, will react to the “special conference” which led to Ms Lemphane-Letsie and others’ election into a new-look RCL committee.

Ms Rantšo recently successfully petitioned the High Court to stop the party’s elective conference which had initially been pencilled in for 15 February 2020 but as Ms Lemphane-Letsie (ML) alleges in this interview with Lesotho Times’ (LT) senior reporter ’Marafaele Mohloboli, the weekend conference did not contravene the court ruling “because it was a special conference and not an elective conference”.

Ms Lemphane-Letsie also discusses her relationship with Ms Rantšo and rules out recalling her from cabinet and parliament because she does not want her and her dependents to suffer when she becomes jobless. Below are the excerpts of the interview.

LT: How is it that you held an elective conference when Ms Rantšo successfully sought an interdict against such a conference? 

ML: It should be clear from the onset that there was an attempt to stop the conference which was scheduled for 13 February 2020, whose preparations started last November.

’M’e Keketso was granted her wish and the conference was stopped but this was followed by no confidence motion from 22 constituencies which wanted to take over the party on the grounds that the current committee had overstayed its tenure and wanted a special conference.

The last elective conference was on 11 February 2017, just a day after we fetched our leader from exile and some members were subsequently deployed to government thus leaving vacancies within the committee which were never filled.

The special conference then resolved to elect a committee and I was elected in absentia.

There is a difference between an annual general conference, an elective conference and a special conference. So, the matter before court is a totally different one altogether.

LT: The world is advocating for women in leadership and so is Lesotho. However, from the outside looking in, your move to take replace the party leader can be viewed by some as destructive because it unseats one woman and replaces her with another. What is your take on this? 

ML: The fact of the matter is that I love powerful women and would support them over and over again.

Unfortunately, we had a leadership that did not like to be corrected in any way, and the minute one held a different view from that of the leader, they were said to be fighting the leader.

But I supported my leader in all things and gave her my all because I believed she is a strong character.

This is a woman who stood up in a male-dominated game of politics and I respect her for standing up to the challenge despite the criticism that came her way.

I stood with her through thick and thin and in the process, I learnt new things including her strengths and weaknesses. I still respect her but unfortunately, she was now leading a pack that no longer believed in her and I had no choice but to accept the position when I was afforded the opportunity to do so.

This is not personal.

LT: Do you think that you or your party has what it takes to be in the coalition government?

ML: I like women empowerment but women should be ranked on merit not just because they are women and the universe is calling for their inclusion in positions of power.

As things stand, the RCL is not where it is based on merit. It was just by chance and we rode on a sympathy card because our leader happened to be in exile with the current coalition partners.

That is not what I want for our party. I want to see things happening differently and to be promoted to senior ranks because I am deserving. I want to walk my journey and succeed because I am still learning and if I should fail, let me stand back and introspect then try all over again.

LT: At one point some of you wanted to have Ms Rantšo recalled from parliament and from her post as a principal in the governing coalition. So, what happens now that she is no longer party leader? 

ML: Now that I have been elected party leader, this is an issue which I must bring to my colleagues’ attention and convince them that it’s not going to benefit anyone.

Recalling her would destroy ’M’e Keke and her family. That will be as good as killing her because she needs that job for a living.

I think it is only good that we do unto others as we would like to be done unto us. It would be so unfortunate if we were to recall her. Besides, it is entirely up to the Prime Minister to appoint or sack his cabinet and it is only fair that we leave it to him to decide on that.

I am very comfortable with where I am and don’t have a problem with remaining here. Recalling her would be deprive all her dependents of a living and it’s not what we want really, she still deserves to survive.

I think that will also serve as a lesson to her because she has this tendency of firing people whenever she has a misunderstanding with them.

I have no interest in her being removed from cabinet or parliament whatsoever. Even the day the prime minister decides to remove her, that will not be because of my influence, it would be because he would have deemed it fit. This would only make people bitter than they already are. I wouldn’t wish even my worst enemy to become jobless because I know poverty.

LT: Now that you have been elected the party leader, when are we likely to see you stepping down from your post as principal secretary? 

ML: I have since approached the Government Secretary (Moahloli Mphaka) to brief him on the latest developments. However, I have asked him to be patient with me as I am yet to meet the rest of the committee and plead with them to allow me to be recused from the party until my contract as principal secretary expires this August.

My absence in the party shall not leave a void in any way because I have a deputy and I will reject my election because I have always known that they have always wanted me.

I have accepted their decision and would not like to be undermine their trust in me. I am up for the challenge to lead but would like to talk this out with them first.

I have already written my resignation letter in case my request is not accepted. But I know of people who are politicians and still hold senior government positions.

It should also be understood that I had no idea what the special conference was going to discuss and I was also elected in absentia.

LT: The RCL is divided as we speak. How do you propose to re-unite the party? How are you going to mend relations with Ms Rantšo? 

ML: For all that it’s worth, I am willing to make things work between us but it’s worth noting that I have never had anything personal against her and don’t perceive her as an enemy in any way, so I will just let things take their course.

As for the party, I know that things have not been done transparently including deploying people in different posts and I think it is high time that we should do things in a transparent way and give everyone a fair chance to compete when there is need and a vacancy as this is one of the many things that has brought us here.

LT: What is your vision for the party?

ML: My vision for the party is to see it doing things differently from all other congress parties that came before it. We must be a party with direction and purpose and must work on attainable policies and work to be an equal deserving partner in any other coalition that will come and not ride on a sympathy card.

LT: What are your priorities and what issues are you looking to address first? 

ML: I would really like to see us looking into the constitution because even today, we still have a post of an editor and I don’t even know its relevance in the party when we are now living in a world of technology.

I am going to work on marketing and growing the party in all its structures and mostly to come up with projects that can address the level of unemployment. This party should be independent and I believe that people should use their positive energies in bettering it. We need to know what this party represent.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.