LCD’s track record speaks for itself: Metsing

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LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, who had been in self-imposed exile in South Africa since December 2021, finally returned home in August. He had fled to avoid standing trial for treason alongside fellow politician, Selibe Mochoboroane, former army commander, Tlali Kamoli, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa. He returned home after striking a deal with the prosecution that saw him being granted bail until the trial starts in November this year. In his absence, other political leaders have been spearheading their parties’ election campaigns ahead of next week’s polls. The Lesotho Times (LT)’s special projects editor, Bongiwe Zihlangu, recently sat down with Mr Metsing to find out how his party’s preparations for the upcoming polls are going. Mr Metsing also spoke about his time in exile.

Excerpts:

LT: You were in exile from last year until recently. Did your absence affect the LCD?  

Metsing: Obviously it affected the party. Members were beginning to leave because I wasn’t there. They were concerned. But I am back now, and we see growth again. We are happy with the growth we have seen since my return. The LCD is still very strong.

LT: The emergence of new parties, particularly the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), has changed the country’s political landscape. How has it impacted the LCD?

Metsing: The coming of RFP has affected us, but not by much. We have people like Ntate (Joshua) Setipa, who have gone over to RFP. Some LCD members in his constituency have followed him to the RFP. We accept that.

This is exactly what happened when the All Basotho Convention (ABC) was formed in 2006. Some people left their parties to join the then new political outfit. But still we survived. When the RFP came on the scene almost seven months ago, some people thought believed that other political parties would just vanish from the face of the earth. But that did not happen. As we can all see now, it is business as usual. There was a vibe when the RFP came but it is no different from any other party. During a recent debate, Ntate Tlohang Sekhamane, of the RFP, said his party’s focus was exclusively on meritocracy. He said the party would be dissociating itself from the kind of politics made fashionable by the ABC, Basotho National Party (BNP) and the like. But they are already dancing to political songs like ‘ba se ntse ba haila hona tjena’ (how we do in Lesotho). This is Lesotho, and we are Basotho. They (RFP members) are from the environment that we all grew in, not from the moon. They are from Mantsónyane, Mokhotlong, Leribe, Butha-Buthe, and other places in the country. They are no different from the rest of us.

We must find a solution to our problems as Basotho. Ntate Sekhamane served as a minister in our coalition government from 2015 to 2017.

Ntate Matekane is a prominent businessman who achieved his status through favours from politicians. We need to look at the greater picture as Basotho. That is why the LCD has always been talking about truth and reconciliation and an inclusive government so that we come together as Basotho and embrace as many ideas as possible that can move the country forward. We must begin to accept that in all of us there is an expert in some field. We need every Mosotho to be on the deck and pursue this country’s progress together. No individual will ever succeed alone. If we succeed, we all succeed. If we fail, we all fail.

LT: You’ve gone into exile on two occasions. Tell us about your experiences.

Metsing: Life in exile was hard. My most recent stint in exile was harder because I was arrested in South Africa and detained in a police cell for the whole weekend. It was very painful, moreso because my arrest was instigated by people whom I have always protected. I have always been protecting many people in this country. My suspicion is that some people don’t want to compete with me on equal footing and in a fair manner in the elections.

LT: You sound like someone who is still in pain and thus reluctant to talk about your experiences. Are you ready to move on?

Metsing: What purpose will talking about my painful experiences serve? I don’t think it will serve any purpose. I must get over it and continue with my life and leading the LCD. I am happy that we are doing well now. I don’t want to dwell on such things because they are not helpful. I might end up losing focus and going into politics of hatred. I must move on.

 LT: Are you ready to be part of a coalition government in the event that the 7 October elections fail to produce an outright winner?

Metsing: There is no doubt that we are going to have another coalition government. It is impossible to have a party that can win an absolute majority to govern alone. Coalition governments are going to be with us for some time. They are not going away anytime soon. When you follow European politics, you will see that they have coalition governments, and they are making the most of them. What I observed in the coalition governments that I’ve been part of was that people were threatened by me. When you do good or come up with good policies, you are attacked. People will acknowledge the good that you do but would rather it be done by them. That is the part that must be managed, where people try to destroy you so that they can shine at your expense. If we have parties whose ideas are based genuinely on policy and ideology, then I don’t think we will encounter any problems. The problem that we have in our country with coalitions is corruption. People steal when they are in government and there is this unhealthy competition going on. If only people can accept that when you are in a coalition government, whatever you do must be done from a perspective of collective responsibility. It is wrong that when coalition partners go out to the public, they attribute the successes of government to their parties. That must change.

LT: Do you agree with the Constitutional Court’s nullification of constitutional amendments passed by the recalled parliament and gazetted into law by His Majesty, King Letsie III?

Metsing: Whether we like or not, the ConCourt has passed its judgement. I hear people asking political parties what they make of the judgement, what their position is. They are trying to persuade parties to revive the Omnibus Bill after the elections. There was consensus between the National Assembly and the Senate on some issues. For those issues where there was consensus, they must be approved into law. Those where there were disagreements must be revisited. We need to find each other and establish common ground.

LT: Why does LDC deserve Basotho’s votes?

Metsing: I’m making a clarion call to Basotho to give us their votes. They need LCD because the party has done a lot for them. We have been part of government for many years, and we will ensure continuity. We are better placed to lead. We have led efforts to develop the country through the ministers of energy that we had under the LCD. There was Monyane Moleleki, Dr Timothy Thahane, LCD deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi, and Selibe Mochoboroane. Almost all electricity poles in Lesotho were installed by the LCD government. Only a few can be attributed to other parties. But people are not aware of these things. The national reforms we are talking about now were pioneered by the LCD. There was a lot of opposition to the reforms and a lot of painful things were said but I stomached everything and eventually prevailed. The international community also took notice.

 

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