…informs supporters of his decision in writing
Pakalitha Mosisili has formally quit as leader of the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) ending a long tumultuous political career.
Although he had previously hinted that he would not seek re-election at his party’s elective conference next year, Dr Mosisili, the longest serving elected Prime Minister in Lesotho’s post- independence history, has since formally communicated his decision in writing to his party. This means he is definite about his decision and can no longer go back on it, even if persuaded to do so.
Many long serving African leaders have frequently promised to relinquish their posts to pave way for new blood only to change their positions along the way and cling to power.
Dr Mosisili’s communicated his decision to quit in a moving letter dated 9 November 2018 to DC supporters.
In the letter Dr Mosisili likens himself to a dancer who must eventually relinquish the stage regardless of how good his dance moves are.
His decision comes against the backdrop of infighting as party factions jostle for leadership positions at the elective conference slated for January 2019.
He said the “shocking levels” of infighting in his party and accusations that he favoured some members at the expense of others had compelled him to announce his decision to quit in writing instead of communicating it orally.
“No matter how good a dancer you may be, there must be a time to come down from the stage and such a time has come for me to step aside,” Dr Mosisili wrote.
“I take opportunity to humbly notify you that I shall not be contesting for the party’s leadership in the up-coming elective conference and therefore this means that as you ready yourself, know that the leadership vacancy is also up for grabs and you should all be ready to elect a new leader.”
Dr Mosisili served as prime minister from May 1998 to June 2012 and again from March 2015 to June 2017 when he lost snap national elections. All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane became prime minister after his party entered into a coalition with the Alliance of Democrats (AD) led by Dr Mosisili’s former deputy in the DC, Monyane Moleleki, the Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
Prior to the 2017 elections, the DC endured a power struggle which led to the departure of Mr Moleleki, several DC legislators and other party members to form the AD.
The December 2016 split which gave birth to the AD has, however, not ended the divisions in the DC as the party is said to be split into two factions which are battling for control.
One faction known as Liphakoe is said to have thrown its weight behind the DC deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, in his quest to succeed Dr Mosisili. Mr Mokhothu is the official leader of the opposition in parliament and he is the member of parliament for the Qhoali #68 constituency. The other faction, known as Melele, is said to favour the DC deputy secretary, Tlohang Sekhamane. Mr Sekhamane is a former finance minister and former member of parliament for the Mokhotlong #79 constituency.
In his letter, Dr Mosisili bemoaned the infighting in the former ruling party which was also manifested at the DC rally in Mohale’s Hoek last month.
“The 6 to 7 October rally in Mohale’s Hoek was the most emotive rally I have ever been to. I have never seen party members at the leadership level so angry with one another like they were, forgetting that they are the leadership that is trusted by party cadres.
“Some were even blaming me for my opening address which I termed ‘Hello God’, which is an extract from American singer Dolly Parton.
“I would like to appeal to you that your faith in the congress movement should be revived so that you may not fight because what binds us as a unit is stronger and bigger than what may divide us.
“It is on this note that I take opportunity to humbly notify you that I shall not be contesting for the party’s leadership in the up-coming elective conference and therefore this means that as you ready yourself, know that the leadership is also up for grabs and you should all be ready to elect a new leader,” Dr Mosisili said.
Dr Mosisili’s decision to walk away from the DC leadership follows his announcement a month ago that he would not seek to be voted as prime minister again even if his party won the next elections.
During that rally in Maseru, Dr Mosisili said he had even laid the groundwork for a successor by stepping aside to allow his deputy, Mr Mokhothu, to be elected leader of the opposition in parliament.
And in his recent letter, Dr Mosisili said he had “no favourites or enemies” when it came to choosing his successor and other party leaders. The January conference “shall elect its leader as directed by the Holy Spirit”.
“The election of a leader should be done cautiously with very calm and cool minds and hearts, not malevolently. A leader is of service to all and not just a certain faction hence for the past 21 years I have always assured you that there are no favourites within the party, nor do I have enemies.
“Therefore, I earnestly appeal to all of you to work towards a clean election, to accept the outcome of the conference and the one who shall be voted to lead. May the party be blessed with a new leader who respects the people and fears God. As for me, I shall always be on stand-by to readily give advice where such is needed,” Dr Mosisili said.
Dr Mosisili said his address at the Mohale’s Hoek rally was misinterpreted by some party members who already had some hidden agendas against him.
During that address Dr Mosisili ‘wondered’ whether God could still hear the DC as it endured trials and tribulations.
“I was only praying and calling out to God that He may give us the attention that we so badly needed, have mercy on us and forgive us as a party and as a nation. I did not doubt his presence as it was interpreted by some.”
In his long missive, Dr Mosisili also delved into the history of the congress movement, saying his time in charge had not always been smooth sailing as there were people who were not enamoured by his leadership.
“Some undermined me and felt that they were just using me and when all had fallen in place they would take over. But I remained resolute when some jumped ship and formed the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) in 2002.
“Others that were left behind followed soon afterwards and formed the All Basotho Convention due to similar reasons. And you shall all recall with bleeding hearts how we had to leave the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and form the Democratic Congress in 2012 and you elected me to lead you.”
“I have reminded you of all these challenges that we have been through to make you aware that leadership is not a play thing. I have reminded you to show you that leadership is not campaigned for but is bestowed by God,” Dr Mosisili said.
He further said that he was grateful that in his 21 years of leadership God had always stood by him and the congress parties won four elections and he was prime minister for 16 years.