By Letuka Chafotsa
MASERU – The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, said he conceded defeat in Saturday’s parliamentary by-elections in Thaba-Moea and Thaba-Phechela.
Deputy Prime Minister Metsing was speaking during a press briefing held at his Maseru West residence on Sunday, where he also congratulated the main opposition, the Democratic Congress (DC), for regaining the two constituencies.
“I wish to commend and congratulate the DC for winning the by-election in these two constituencies, as well as in the local government electoral divisions,” Metsing said.
“I wish to congratulate them from the bottom of my heart for a job well done.”
In addition to recapturing the seats left vacant following the death of the party’s members of parliament Mokhokoli Seutloali and Molahlehi Malefane in April and October 2013 respectively, the DC also clinched 14 of the 27 local government electoral divisions up-for-grabs nationwide in the hotly-contested polls.
The DC garnered 1 963 votes in Thaba-Phechela, narrowly beating the LCD by a mere 15 ballots.
In the Thaba-Phechela constituency, the DC got 2 913 votes while the LCD was second with 1 652.
However, analysts have hailed the LCD’s performance as remarkable considering that in 2012, the party managed a mere 388 votes in Thaba-Phechela and 1 369 in Thaba-Moea.
DC leader and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili said at his party’s ‘thanksgiving’ rally on Sunday afternoon, that Metsing had called him that morning “to congratulate me for the DC’s performance in the election”.
Metsing also expressed concerns on the by-election results saying often political leaders struggled to accept defeat.
“It’s unusual for party leaders to accept defeat but as the LCD leader, I want to set a new precedent in our democracy,” Metsing said.
Metsing further noted Basotho should learn to accept election results for “our Lesotho to grow further in deepening its democracy”.
He added elections are a starting point to a healthy democracy adding “accepting defeat as party leader promotes civil society trust of the elected”.
“Well-developed political and electoral institutions similarly increase the likelihood of peaceful election transitions,” Metsing said.
He added: “Institutions like churches and the media provide the resilience that democracies require to withstand potential conflicts following election-results.”
Meanwhile, Mosisili also said he wished to applaud Metsing for exhibiting political maturity by accepting defeat.
Mosisili said Lesotho’s political leaders had never attempted to show the political maturity the LCD leader had conveyed by conceding defeat, adding he urged them to “follow in Metsing’s footsteps despite being younger than them.”
“Instead of taking their grievances to the streets, defeated candidates can challenge election results or the fairness of election procedures through institutional mechanisms such as electoral complaints commissions or the courts.”