Mokhothu steps up quest to win 2022 polls

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…dines with the late Mosotho Chakela’s family, courts famo musicians.

Pascalinah Kabi

DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, is leaving no stone unturned in his avowed quest to secure an outright victory in next year’s general elections to give his party the mandate to govern alone.

The deputy prime minister has so far embarked on several campaign strategies including “disguised” birthday celebrations and food donations to various constituencies to avoid falling foul of strict Covid-19 regulations which bar political gatherings.

Over the weekend, he made the short trip across the border into Bloemfontein to meet the family of the late feared famo singer, Rethabile Mokete. Popularly known as Mosotho Chakela, the singer-cum Terene gang leader, died of Covid-19 related complications in January this year.

At the time of his death, Mr Chakela had ditched the fractious Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) and thrown his lot with Mr Mokhothu’s DC party.

He was also a fugitive from justice as he had ignored several police requests to turn himself in to stand trial for the 14 June 2017 murder of Mr Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane. He was one of the suspects alongside Mr Thabane’s current wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane and several others. Mr Thabane was himself named as a key suspect but he is yet to be formally charged. The police command and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, are blaming each other for the delay in prosecuting him.

Mr Mokhothu is hoping to capitalise on the late Mr Chakela’s legacy and woo the famo music fraternity and their large following to rally behind the DC in its quest to win the by-elections and ultimately the 2022 elections.

Although it has not set a precise date, the IEC has said it is preparing for overdue elections in the six constituencies of Makhoroana, Maliepetsane, Thupa Kubu, Mohale’s Hoek, Qacha’s Nek and Kolo. Five of the constituencies are without representation following the deaths of their legislators between 2019 and 2021.

Four of the deceased legislators Lefu Hlomelang (Makhoroana), Michael Molefe (Maliepetsane), Afrika Makakane (Thupa Kubu) and Sentje Lebona (Mohale’s Hoek) were all from the ABC, the DC’s main partner in the current governing coalition. The Qacha’s Nek constituency was also held by the ABC’s Pontšo Sekatle, who had dumped the DC in December 2019 together with her husband, current Health Minister, Semano Sekatle.  The constituency is currently without representation after Dr Pontšo Sekatle’s resignation in February 2021 to take up an ambassadorial post in Belgium and the European Union.

The late Kolo constituency MP, Putsoane Leeto, was a member of Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress (DC).

Winning the five constituencies previously held by the ABC and retaining the Kolo constituency would therefore be a huge psychological boost for the DC ahead of next year’s polls.

Apart from other recent campaign moves, which included donating foodstuffs to vulnerable families in different parts of the country and donating blankets to 100 herd boys in his Qhoali constituency, Mr Mokhothu and his entourage visited Mr Chakela’s family. Some party insiders said the visit was part of a charm offensive aimed at wooing the famo music fraternity to galvanise its supporters to back the DC.

He was welcomed by dozens of black and gold clad members of the Terene famo group who sang and danced throughout his visit.

Although he told the Lesotho Times that his weekend visit to the Chakelas was “not about the upcoming by-elections”, Mr Mokhothu acknowledged the importance of strengthening his party’s relationships with many different groupings “since politics is a game of numbers”.

“My visit to Chakela’s house and meeting the Terene leadership was two pronged. Firstly, as an African and a Mosotho for that matter, it is incumbent on me to pay my respects to the deceased’s family (Chakela).

“Our African (culture) demands that if for some reason one could not attend a deceased person’s funeral, they should always go at a later date to pay their respects to the family. You are aware that, our friend Chakela and countryman passed on during the Covid-19 lockdown. We couldn’t travel during that time. So, I found it appropriate to now visit the family and give them some provisions after losing their dearest son and husband during this pandemic.

“Secondly, as a Christian it is important to visit the bereaved family after their loss. It is important to comfort and enable them to cross the dark valley of death. That is Ubuntu. I always try by all means to visit and attend to everybody who lost a loved one. The reason is simple; we should love each other as brothers and sisters.

“We must strengthen each other as sons and daughters from the same family. Our condolences were both verbal and material. First, we prayed together and worshiped God collectively. Secondly, every funeral requires material things such as food and other forms of assistance. This (Chakela death) was not different. That is the will of God,” Mr Mokhothu said.

Pressed on whether the visit was also about strengthening the party’s ties with the Terene famo group after it dumped the ABC last year, Mr Mokhothu conceded that it was important to ensure that “our umbilical cord is not broken by the loss (of Chakela)” and “to ensure that the Terene-DC relationship prospers forever”.

He said Mr Chakela and his famo group were DC members and it was important to talk to the Terene leadership face to face since they could not meet during Chakela’s final send-off ceremony in Bloemfontein in January.

“Of course, it is also important to ensure that our umbilical cord is not broken by our loss. We want to maintain and strengthen these relationships just like our brother (Chakela) desired. We have to stand firm together to ensure that Terene-DC relationship prospers forever.

“Because politics is a game of numbers, it is crucial to have relations with many groupings, whether small, medium or large. We are still building this party.  Terene, other organisations and the entire DC membership are engaged in building this party. We are at the beginning and inviting all and sundry to join the DC because the DC is home to everyone,” Mr Mokhothu said.

On his part, Terene leader, Ntei Tšehlana, said they were on hand to welcome Mr Mokhothu as “he got to know the (Chakela) family through Terene and he had not been able to pay his respects earlier because of the lockdown.

“Now that borders are open, he (Mokhothu) felt that he must pay his respects through us. He had brought some goods for the family but he handed them to us to pass on to the family because we are a bridge between him and that family. We remain committed members of DC even after the death of Mosotho Chakela,” Mr Tšehlana said.

 

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