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Litjobo pleads with coalition partners

by Lesotho Times
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE spokesperson of the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Thuso Litjobo, has appealed to its governing coalition partners particularly the Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) to urgently resolve internal differences to ensure stability within the government.

Mr Litjobo said this in a recent interview with the Lesotho Times.

His comments come in the wake of recent reports of infighting in each of the governing parties, namely the AD, the ABC, the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).

While there have been reports of infighting in each of the four parties, it is however, the ABC which is headed by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, which has grabbed the headlines in recent months.

Barely a year after its advent to power, the infighting in the ABC has already claimed the scalp of Butha-Buthe legislator Motlohi Maliehe who was fired from his post as Tourism minister last month for his brazen attack on the First Lady during a rally in his constituency in May this year.

Mr Maliehe accused Ms Thabane of fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.

The ABC chairperson accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.

Mr Maliehe has since been suspended from his post as party chair. He has however, vowed to defy the suspension and contest the national executive committee elections at the party conference slated for February next year.

Mr Maliehe, who also served as Forestry and Land Reclamation Minister, is the third ABC legislator to be fired from government since the advent of the four-party coalition in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 snap elections.

First to be fired were outspoken former Minister of Health Nyapane Kaya and Lehlohonolo Moramotse who until February this year served as Public Works and Transport Minister.

And in a recent interview, Mr Litjobo acknowledged that all four governing parties had internal problems that needed to be urgently addressed by the leadership.

“As the four parties in the coalition government we all have our problems. The main thing is how we decide to deal with our issues,” Mr Litjobo said.

He also spoke on the challenges bedeviling the ABC, saying while they were not as bad as they seemed to be, they still needed to be resolved for the sake of the stability of the government.

“The problems within the ABC are not as bad as they may seem and they can be solved by the membership of that party only if they choose to do so.

“We can only advise them (ABC) as our partners but at the end of the day the onus rests on them to decide whether or not they are willing to work out their differences. It is up to them to take or not to take our advice.

“It is worth noting that the ABC is the biggest party in the coalition and therefore their problems affect us.

“The survival or collapse of the ABC is something which rests entirely in the hands of its members. However, we would really appreciate it if they could work out their issues as this would be to our advantage as their partners. We respect our coalition partners and we hate to meddle in their issues.

“But what affects them also affects us. We are just trying to look out for our government which we so much love and cherish. We only want what is best for this government. The fights within our parties don’t just affect us negatively but also expose as a government.”

Mr Litjobo also underscored the importance of humility and collective leadership to avoid unnecessary party splits.

“We have seen parties collapse before our eyes because those entrusted to lead them were too proud to accept advice. I have been in parties which were once giants but have since collapsed because we didn’t heed advice,” said Mr Litjobo who was previously a member of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Democratic Congress (DC).

“It is very abnormal for any political party to have it smooth sailing without any differences. But when such differences manifest, the leaders should handle the challenges with respect for each other.

“We as the AD also have our own problems and the one thing that we have since learnt is how to accommodate and tolerate one another without washing our dirty linen in public.”

Mr Litjobo also proposed a joint meeting for all coalition leaders to engage in frank discussions about the issues affecting them.

He also said that it was important for party leaders to use rallies to send positive messages which would help the grassroots to be energised and work out their differences to enhance party cohesion and unity.

“It is only through positive talk from our leaders during rallies that the grassroots supporters may be healed and encouraged to work out their differences.

Positive talk by our leaders is sure to yield positive results. The electorate will be humbled when their leaders acknowledge their problems and mistakes and promise to do better. Nothing beats the power of a humble leader,” Mr Litjobo said.

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