I’m no hawk, says Sekatle

MASERU — Local Government Minister Pontšo Sekatle yesterday rubbished allegations made in a United States cable that she is one of the hardliners in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party influencing Prime Minister Pakalitha

The confidential 2009 cable, leaked by whistleblowing website Wikileaks two weeks ago, quotes Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing as having told the then US ambassador Robert Nolan that he was concerned that Mosisili appears to be getting “guidance  and support from hardliners” like Sekatle.

The cable was a result of a meeting Metsing, who is also the secretary general of the LCD, had with Nolan on November 12, 2009.

The cable said it was Metsing who solicited the meeting with Nolan.

At that meeting, the cable says, Metsing expressed concern with Mosisili’s “dictatorial” behaviour and his decision not to retire at the end of his current term.

It was during that meeting that Metsing is alleged to have mentioned Sekatle as one of the hardliners in the party influencing Mosisili.

Sekatle however told the Lesotho Times yesterday that this characterisation as a “hardliner” does not bother her.

“They say I’m a hardliner. But I don’t let that bother me. I did not go to the American Embassy to sell out my Prime Minister,” Sekatle said in a telephone interview with the Lesotho Times from Johannesburg where she was on official business.

“It’s a political agenda by those men (ke political agenda ea bo ntate bao). They present issues whichever way they like because they have a motive,” Sekatle said.

“Let them say what they want because I know where I am going and it’s not where they are going,” added Sekatle who is also the president of the LCD Women’s League.

Metsing could not be reached for a comment.

This paper tried several times to contact him but his phones were either unreachable or they would go unanswered.

The cable said Metsing stated that although he was the LCD secretary general he had never been consulted by Mosisili “about party policy or activities”.

“This (Mosisili’s) reliance on Sekatle and others who encourage the Prime Minister’s distance from the opposition parties has caused factions within the cabinet, and Metsing feels that he is being sidelined,” Nolan said in the cable.

Sekatle and Metsing belong to two rival factions that have been tussling out for the control of the ruling party since 2007.

Metsing is said to be leading a faction that has the support of the national executive committee. Sekatle is said to belong to a faction led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki that has been battling to remove the Metsing-led executive committee.

The Metsing-linked faction has thus far survived a barrage or attacks and attempts to oust it.

But sources close to the LCD have hinted that the cable might seal Metsing’s fate.

There is speculation that the Moleleki-linked faction plans to use the cable to discredit Metsing and cast him as an ambitious executive member seeking to topple Mosisili.

Some of the youth league members who besieged the party headquarters last Friday claimed that the cable was an indication that Metsing cannot be trusted.

The youths, who are said to be linked to Moleleki, were protesting against Justice Kelello Guni’s judgment which threw out an application by three party members who were seeking a court order to compel the executive committee to organise a special conference.

They stormed the party office, chased out the workers and confiscated the keys which they said they were going to give to Mosisili because he was the only one they could trust.

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