Metsing snubs party meeting

MASERU — Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing (pictured) last Thursday snubbed the party’s parliamentary caucus where he was set to be grilled over Wikileaks and other party matters.

The Lesotho Times understands that the LCD MPs also planned to tell Metsing that they wanted him to resign as the party’s secretary general.

It is understood that Metsing, who is also Communications Minister, was tipped off about the plan by one of the MPs and he snubbed the meeting.

An MP who attended the caucus but refused to be named for fear of retribution told this paper that the MPs were so angry with Metsing’s no-show that they dispatched two ministers to go and fetch him from his Moposo House office.

The task of fetching Metsing was given to Public Works Minister Semano Sekatle and Tourism Minister ’Mannete Ramaili who immediately drove to his office.

A source said the two ministers literally barged into the office and asked to see Metsing.

“They were not asking but were demanding to be told where Metsing was,” a source in Metsing’s office said.

“It was threatening and we wondered what was going to happen,” the source said.

They were told that Metsing was attending an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) tribunal.

Sekatle however denied that they talked angrily to the staff at Metsing’s office.

He told the Lesotho Times that they politely asked the secretary where the minister was and when she answered them they went back to report to the caucus.

“It is not true that we were angry when we arrived at Honourable Metsing’s office,” Sekatle said.

“’M`e ’Mannete and I were merely sent by the LCD caucus meeting to fetch Honourable Minister Metsing because there were some things he had to explain,” he said.

Sekatle said they went to the IEC meeting where they found Metsing and told him that he was wanted by the caucus but he didn’t come with them.

Sekatle said the LCD MPs wanted to know why the party was not represented in some constituencies in the local government election.

“This issue was so urgent that the caucus deemed it necessary to send us to fetch Honourable Metsing from his office,” he said.

“We were told by his secretary that he had attended the IEC tribunal and we went back to the caucus meeting to report.”

But another MP who was part of the caucus said the real reason they wanted Metsing at the meeting was to quiz him over the Wikileaks report.

Metsing has found himself in a tight spot after a US cable leaked by Wikileaks, a whistle-blowing website, revealed that he had told the then American ambassador to Lesotho in November 2009 that Prime Minister and LCD leader Pakalitha
Mosisili was a “dictator”.

Metsing is said to have told Ambassador Robert Nolan that he was worried by Mosisili’s reluctance to retire at the end of his current term.

Since the cable was released on August 30 some LCD members, both junior and senior, have demanded that Metsing be removed as the secretary general because he has “sold out our leader to foreigners”.

Last week a group of party youths paraded their anger against Metsing at Moshoeshoe I International Airport where Mosisili was set to arrive from a United Nations general assembly meeting in the US.

They sang and waved placards denouncing Metsing.

They said they wanted him out of the ruling party.

Another source said at Thursday’s caucus meeting the MPs wanted to ratchet up pressure on Metsing to step down.

The plan to harangue Metsing is understood to have been hatched by MPs believed to be aligned to a faction allegedly led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.

Metsing and Moleleki are understood to be leading the two rival factions that are tussling for the control of the ruling party.

It is said that both men have ambitions to replace Mosisili although they have not publicly said so.

The two have repeatedly denied leading the two factions that have apparently torn the party into two warring camps.

The source said the MPs also wanted Metsing to explain why the ruling party failed to field candidates in some constituencies during last weekend’s local government election.

They were also angry that the party had not produced a manifesto for the election.

The source said the legislators were going to grill Metsing for allegedly withholding information from them regarding the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s meetings he attends as the LCD representative.

However, an MP who supports the Metsing faction said she did not understand why the MPs wanted to grill Metsing over LCD issues when they should have been discussing parliamentary issues.

“It does not matter whether ministers were part of that ill-informed decision, the bottom-line is Metsing does not have to report the party’s administrative issues to the MPs,” the MP said.

“I would understand if these MPs wanted Metsing to explain something specific related to a stance the LCD has to take in parliament,” she said.

“The caucus meeting is not a forum to discuss things affecting the LCD outside parliament. Such things are discussed in the national executive committee meetings, leadership meetings, annual conferences and extraordinary conferences.”

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