FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing has attributed his fallout with the coalition partner and current Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to disagreements over the withholding of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s terminal benefits after the latter was succeeded by Dr Thabane as premier in 2012.
Mr Metsing, who leads the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), was deputy prime minister in the first coalition comprising of Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Chief Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP) from 2012 to 2015. He said his attempts to broker peace between Dr Mosisili and Dr Thabane “cost me dearly with my then coalition partners”. He said they also fell out after he resisted his coalition partners’ demand for the firing of then Attorney General, Tšokolo Makhethe, and Director of Public Prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane.
He said his coalition partners wanted Messrs Makhethe and Thetsane fired on the grounds that they were allegedly congress supporters.
Mr Metsing said this while addressing LCD supporters at a weekend rally in Mphosong.
He also bemoaned the current fallout between the LCD and the DC after all the support he offered the DC’s former leader, Dr Mosisili and Messrs Makhethe and Thetsane who were branded DC loyalists by his erstwhile coalition partners.
“The fallout came about when we were told by our coalition partners to fire the then Attorney General, Tšokolo Makhethe, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane, because they were said to be Democratic Congress followers. But we stood by them and fought for them.
“I am the one who sought legal advice when Ntate Mosisili’s benefits were withheld because I felt it was the right thing to do and that is when the enmity (with ABC and BNP) started but today they (DC members) speak ill of me.
“I even tried to intervene and broker peace between Ntate Thabane and Ntate Mosisili back then and that cost me dearly with my then coalition partners.”
Mr Metsing said at the time he felt confronting his then coalition partners over the Mosisili, Makhethe and Thetsane issues was the best thing to do but with the advantage of hindsight, he would advise his followers pursue the path of peace and reconciliation with rival parties.
“Even if we are subjected to extreme provocation let us rather pray that God makes us instruments of peace where there are differences. Let us not give in to provocation and fight. We should remain humble even when the situation demands otherwise. We should be like the Lamb of God (Jesus) who remained humble even when he was going to be sacrificed. This country shall only be saved by humility not by showing other people how much fury one has.”
He reiterated his call for a government of national unity (GNU) to lead the country in the implementation of the multi-sector reforms process which are crucial to achieving lasting peace and stability in the country. He said upon assuming power alongside the DC in 2017, they lost the plot by hiring their supporters to the civil service
“This country needs a GNU to achieve peace and stability. A GNU will only be temporary while we get our house in order.
“When we came back in the country from exile we found that our colleagues in the opposition who once shared our sentiments on the issue of GNU had changed. To them this was no longer an issue of interest but we forged on and never lost focus because we think the GNU is the only best way to overcome our problems as a nation. This is the only way to fight poverty and unemployment.”
He also castigated the culture of governments only hiring their supporters to work in the civil service, saying there could never be peace and stability as long as this continued. He admitted to hiring his own supporters during his time in government with Dr Mosisili. “When the then DC leader (Dr Mosisili) became prime minister and I became deputy prime minister, our style of administration changed and we started giving jobs to our followers only. But today I am convinced that no country can ever progress and attain peace under those circumstances.
“If supporters of the governing parties are the only ones hired and others left to suffer and die of hunger, there shall never be peace. The suffering of a nationalist should be as worrying as that of congress supporters and none of us should take any joy in each other’s suffering. We are all Basotho.
“Ensuring everyone else’s welfare cannot be done by one party, it needs a concerted effort to make things right…hence the need for a GNU. We are convinced that we don’t have any other choice but to go that (GNU) route. I believe that if the government is inclusive, there would be less hatred.”
He said his insistence on a GNU was motivated by patriotism and not self-interest as he had already “had my share of a good life when you voted me into power and made me deputy prime minister”.
“Very soon, my benefits shall be paid out and the government has an obligation to give me a state funeral when I die. So I am not asking for a GNU because I want to be part of it. As a Mosotho, I only want what is best for others because I have already been given respect. Even if I were to leave parliament, I would still earn more than parliamentarians,” Mr Metsing said.