SMALL Business Development Minister Selibe Mochoboroane has finally confirmed his leadership of the newly-formed Movement for Economic Change (MEC) confirming local politics’ worst kept secret.
Addressing a press conference to unveil the MEC yesterday, the Thabana-Morena constituency legislator said he intended to stay on as a minister despite parting ways with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in which he was secretary-general.
However, LCD leader Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing yesterday told the Lesotho Times there was “no way” Mr Mochoboroane could remain minister given that he was appointed to the position by virtue of being a member of the governing party.
The charismatic politician’s exit from the LCD was sealed after his suspension by Mr Metsing for systematically sabotaging the LCD for his own ends last month.
While the suspension was subject to the confirmation or otherwise by the LCD’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the irreconcilable nature of the fallout between Mr Mochoboroane and the party hierarchy meant that it was no longer a case of if but when the firebrand politician would leave the LCD.
At 39, Mr Mochoboroane is among the youngest of the leaders of Lesotho’s political parties which are in excess of 25.
The MEC has also scored a first with the appointment of Mohale’s Hoek District Administrator (DA) ’Mantšiuoa Mosothoane as the only female deputy leader among the country’s political parties. Ms Mosothoane is formerly a member of the All Basotho Convention.
Other members of the interim national executive committee include former Qacha’s Nek DA Mosiuoa Nthakong, who is party chairperson, and Makhetha Thaele (treasurer) who unsuccessfully contested as an LCD member of parliament (MP) candidate in the Qoaling constituency during the 2015 general elections. Mr Thaele is also a board member of the Lesotho National Development Corporation.
Mr Mochoboroane said the MEC differed from Lesotho’s other parties because it was “relevant to the time and challenges Lesotho currently faces”.
He said some of the challenges Lesotho was facing were economic stagnation, poor service delivery and high unemployment, especially among youths.
“We believe that Basotho are the only people who can take charge and develop the country’s economy. Lesotho’s economy has a capacity for growth if local products were promoted and taken seriously.”
Mr Mochoboroane said Lesotho’s natural resources were not benefitting its people “as should be the case”, adding his party would work towards addressing that “anomaly”.
“In order for the economy to grow, we need to prioritise the needs of Basotho without compromising on quality.”
The MEC, he said, would mostly target youths and women as their core constituency.
“This is because those two groups are more marginalised than all other sections of society.”
Mr Mochoboroane also stated that he would remain a minister until he is “told to stop”.
“I made consultations with the Speaker of the National Assembly (Ntlhoi Motsamai) to make her aware that I would be starting a new party and remain in the government. However, I also made it very clear that if the government doesn’t need my input, I shall leave and sit on the cross bench of parliament.
“I will then support the government in cases where I deem fit and oppose it where necessary, just like the opposition.”
The MEC leader said in the event of snap elections, the party would contest on its own and consider alliances thereafter.
“We shall contest in the polls independently with an intention of winning outright. But if the results don’t go our way, we will be open for talks.”
He also appealed to his followers to desist from burning other parties’ regalia as was the case when other parties splintered.
“Our intention is to change Lesotho’s political landscape. We don’t have the energy nor time to badmouth other political party leaders. In any case, some of them are even older than me. All that I am focusing on is to embark on this new journey of economic emancipation.”
Commenting on the development, Mr Metsing said the LCD would ensure Mr Mochoboroane lost his ministerial position since he parted ways with the party.
“There is simply no way that Ntate Mochoboroane can remain a minister when he is no longer a part of us because he was appointed to that ministerial position by virtue of being an LCD member,” said the deputy premier.
Contacted for comment on whether the government would consider adding the MEC as the eighth coalition partner, Communications Minister Serialong Qoo said: “I am very busy at the moment and can’t respond.”
Mr Mochoboroane’s departure from the LCD means the party now only has one elected parliamentary seat apart from its 10 proportional representation seats.
Mr Mochoboroane’s exit further weakens the seven party coalition government which is facing a planned no-confidence motion by the opposition. The coalition’s lead party, Democratic Congress has already split into two with the newly-formed Alliance for Democrats joining the opposition in their bid to topple the government.