Moleleki speaks on political future

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Pascalinah Kabi

DEPUTY Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki has spoken out on his political future amid fevered speculation his decision to stop contesting in future parliamentary elections was predicated on ill health.

In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, the Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader said his decision was not prompted by illness, but on the belief that leaders should not cling to positions for life but pass on the baton to others.

Mr Moleleki, who is the legislator for Machache, said his remarks at an event to thank the people of the constituency last Saturday for electing him six times were misconstrued to mean he was retiring from politics.

Instead, Mr Moleleki said, he meant that he would no longer contest for a parliamentary seat, but enter the National Assembly as a proportional representation (PR) legislator in the event of elections.

Mr Moleleki’s misconstrued remarks have been trending on social and mainstream media, with many commentators speculating that the life threatening illness cancer he survived a few years ago may have relapsed.

However, the long-serving politician stressed that he was not ill, but merely mapping out a succession plan for his party.

The event was meant to express gratitude to the Machache residents for the AD’s single elected seat won during the snap 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections. The party also notched eight PR seats in the elections.

The elections were a result of the 1 March 2017 collapse of the Pakalitha Mosisili-led government through a parliamentary no confidence vote engineered by the AD and three other parties.

The AD and the three other parties, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho went on to cobble together their 63 seats to form government.

Dr Mosisili’s Democratic Congress and six other parties that constituted the former government, could only muster 47 seats collectively, which were 14 short of the 61-seat threshold to form government.

The “four-by-four” coalition, as it is widely known, has since added one seat after the DC’s Tlohelang Aumane defected to the AD. The alliance added three more seats after the ABC won the 30 September 2017 by-elections in Thupa-Kubu, Hololo and Teya-teyaneng #24 constituencies.

Mr Moleleki was previously the deputy leader of the DC, but left the party in November last year after falling out with party leader, Dr Mosisili. Mr Moleleki went on to form the AD the next month along with members of a DC faction that was loyal to him.

The AD leader told this publication that he wanted to groom successors and not create a leadership vacuum in the party.

“Our (AD) constitution states that one can only be a leader for two terms or a period of 10 years, and it is only proper that our supporters should prepare for aspiring successors,” Mr Moleleki said.

“It is a disgrace that people are still saying one person should be a leader for 40 years. We need to foster a culture of passing the leadership baton.”

He said he had decided to buck the trend by making way for another candidate in the next and all future elections.

“I told my people that the six times that I have been elected in Machache mark the end of my time as a candidate in that constituency and at the next election, whether it comes tomorrow or in the year 2022, I will not be standing as a candidate for Machache constituency.

“When there was a need for me to stand for constituency elections, I did and now it is time to give another person an opportunity to stand.

“I invited my people to start searching for an appropriate young man or woman to represent my party in the constituency.

“I didn’t say at the party, but I am saying to you that if I am still alive, I will campaign hardest for the candidate to be elected so that the AD retains our stronghold.”

Mr Moleleki emphasized that he was not yet relinquishing his position as AD leader, adding that the position ensured that he would be very high on the party’s PR list.

“I am not saying I am retiring from active politics, I am only giving the Machache people four years and eight months to look for the next candidate for us to field,” said the veteran politician.

He said the AD was growing and it would win more constituencies and increase its PR seats in the next elections.

Mr Moleleki added that their analysis showed that party membership had grown by seven percent between 3 June and 30 September this year.

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