FORMER Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader Joang Molapo has dumped the party for the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD). He cited incessant infighting in the BNP as the reason for his move.
The non-constituency legislator becomes the third MP to leave a governing party for the AD. Last month, the main ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) MPs Mokherane Tsatsanyane (Stadium Area constituency) and Sello Mooki (Bobatsi) defected to the AD in protest over Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s decision to overlook them for cabinet posts.
Chief Molapo this week told the Lesotho Times that he had jumped ship because he was tired of infighting in the BNP. He did not give details.
However, Chief Molapo and then party spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe fell out last year ahead of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) elections in September 2019.
The two slugged it out for the deputy leader’s post which was eventually won by Mr Mofomobe.
In the run-up to the BNP elections, Chief Molapo and Mr Mofomobe’s campaigns were characterised by highly personalised vitriolic attacks against each other.
At his campaign rally in Hlotse, Leribe in March 2019, Chief Molapo let rip at Mr Mofomobe. He described Mr Mofomobe as an immature and unpredictable politician who was given to posturing on social media and radio instead of focusing on his responsibilities as a party official.
Mr Mofomobe hit back by ridiculing Chief Molapo as “an infidel” and lover of the congress parties and in particular opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing.
Mr Mofomobe subsequently issued a public apology to Mr Molapo- a development which appeared to have ended the feuding in April 2019.
But despite the two appearing to smoke the peace pipe, the tensions continued to simmer under the surface resulting in Chief Molapo’s decision to jump ship.
“I was tired of fighting and I have therefore decided to leave,” Chief Molapo said this week.
“For the last 18 months, the BNP has been fighting me so what I want to do is step away from BNP issues so that people can see it (the party) for what it is. I need people in the party to see that there is an (infighting) disease within it even after my departure.
“I have decided to join the AD. This is a party in the process of defining itself. It is at a very interesting stage in its political growth. It is developing clarity on its economic and social position. Lesotho cannot go anywhere without a radical transformation of its economic situation.
“I served in two administrations and I was one of those involved in formulating economic positions under the ABC regimes. In my view, those policies were not progressive and not radical enough to ensure the economy benefits all Basotho. I believe the AD is open to a transformative economic agenda. The AD is aligned with my political thinking.”
He said he enjoyed a lot of support from his constituency and believed many BNP supporters would follow him to the AD.
He, however, said he was not bitter with his former BNP colleagues.
“I would advise the BNP to do some soul searching as they really need that as a party.
“Otherwise I wish them well in their future endeavours,” Chief Molapo said.
AD spokesperson Thuso Litjobo said although they were happy with Chief Molapo’s move, the former Home Affairs minister could not legally be an AD member as he was still a proportional representation MP who made it to parliament on a BNP ticket.
“All he can do is to debate and vote with us in parliament,” Mr Litjobo said.
BNP secretary general Tšepo Lethobane said they would only comment on the issue upon receiving formal communication from Chief Molapo about his departure.
“We have just heard rumours but we can’t say anything for now because he (Chief Molapo) has not formally told us that he is leaving. So, until he has said it, we would rather reserve our comment,” Mr Lethobane said.