Leaders must go: Mofomobe

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Outspoken BNP spokesperson wants Thabane, Moleleki, Maseribane and Mosisili to give way to young blood

Pascalinah Kabi

BASOTHO National Party (BNP) spokesperson and Home Affairs deputy minister Machesetsa Mofomobe has stirred controversy with a call for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, his deputy Monyane Moleleki and Mr Mofomobe’s own party leader, Thesele Maseribane, to retire from active politics and make way for fresh blood.

He also called on former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) to pass on the baton of leadership to fresh blood.

Mr Mofomobe’s BNP is one of the four parties in the current ruling coalition alongside Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Mr Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Keke Rantšo’s Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).

The outspoken BNP spokesperson who is also deputy minister of Home Affairs drew the ire of his governing coalition partners and the opposition when he chose the Sunday birthday party of Maseru businessman, Moeketsi Chaltin Tsatsanyane, to publicly call on the old guard to give way to a new generation of politicians.

He said that Lesotho should emulate Botswana by imposing two term limits for the national and party presidents. He was referring to the 1 April 2018 change of guard in Botswana which saw  65 year-old former President, Ian Khama, hand over power to Mokgweetsi Masisi (55). Mr Khama himself had replaced Festus Mogae in 2018 in a peaceful transition of power.

Like Botswana, Mr Mofomobe was adamant that Lesotho needed fresh young leaders to run it.

Currently, Lesotho is ruled by 79 year old Dr Thabane who first became prime minister in 2012 and only returned to the position after last year’s June snap national elections.

His predecessor, the 73 year old Dr Mosisili served for a total of about 17 years, in two periods in power, as prime minister while Mr Moleleki has never been in the hot seat. The latter has however, enjoyed a long ministerial career dating back to 1993 when he was appointed Minister of Natural Resources. He has since occupied various portfolios.

Chief Maseribane who is currently the minister of Communications first became a minister in 2012 when he was appointed to the Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation portfolio.

But according to Mr Mofomobe, all these leaders have had their chance and it is time they made way for younger leaders to take the country to a higher level of socio-political and economic development.

“This country can only be transformed if we clearly state in our constitution that an individual is entitled to only two terms in office as a prime minister,” Mr Mofomobe said.

“I know many people are going to fight me on this one but I boldly stand here and say that Ntate Mosisili must go home, Ntate Thabane must go home, Ntate Maseribane has to go home and Ntate Moleleki also has to go home.

“We need to reform our parties and national constitutions to clearly state that a leader must only be in office for two terms.”

He said it was also necessary to amend the constitution to state that a retired prime minister shall forfeit all his benefits if they contest elections as it was clear that politicians always sought to return to power.

He said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) driven multi-sector reforms process presented Basotho with a good opportunity to positively transform the country and this could only be realised if leaders were “selfless and ensured that Lesotho comes before all our personal desires”.

“In Botswana today (Sunday), President Ian Khama is retiring and the new president Mokgweetsi Masisi is being sworn in through a very peaceful transition owing to that country’s constitution which clearly states that an individual must only have two terms in office,” he said, adding that Lesotho could do the same if leaders chose to be selfless and put the country first.

BNP leader Chief Maseribane yesterday gave a brief response to his party spokesperson’s calls for him to retire.

“My only comment on the matter is that I am governed by the constitution of the BNP,” Chief Maseribane said. The BNP constitution does not have two-term limits on the party president.

Mr Mofomobe’s comments were criticised by ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela, who said the former was out of line for calling on Dr Thabane and other party leaders outside the BNP to retire.

“Each party has its constitution which governs its administration and Machesetsa should understand that. The ABC is guided by its constitution and parties will always differ on how they run their affairs. He should not expect us to copy his party’s constitution and what he is saying should only be limited to his party.

“Secondly, Machesetsa is a minister and he knows the correct platform on which to raise this issue. He knows the right procedures which he must follow if he wants some sections of the constitution to be amended,” Mr Mapesela said.

AD spokesperson, Thuso Litjobo, suggested that Mr Mofomobe’s call for Mr Moleleki to step down was misplaced as the latter had already announced a clear retirement plan, starting with his decision not to seek re-election in the Machache constituency in the next elections.

“It is one thing to say I am ready to retire and another to actually do something that clearly shows that you are retiring and Mokola (Mr Moleleki) detests people who cling onto power regardless of their age.

“He (Mr Moleleki) has shown that he is a man of his word by ensuring that the AD constitution clearly states that one can only lead for two terms of five years each. So that means Mokola will not be AD leader after two terms,” Mr Litjobo said.

He said in the unlikely event that Mr Moleleki went beyond the two term limit that would only be in a scenario where AD members pleaded with him to carry on.

DC spokesperson, Serialong Qoo, said Mr Mofomobe could not dictate when Dr Mosisili should retire from active politics.

“He was well within his rights to talk about the three (Thabane, Moleleki and Maseribane) because those are nationalists that he works with and has seen their weaknesses. But he has clearly overstepped the mark in the case of Ntate Mosisili. He should leave Ntate Mosisili alone and the DC members should be the ones to discuss that matter,” Mr Qoo said.

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