Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) stalwart, Keketso Rantšo, has challenged party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing to show “congress leadership qualities” and fight his corruption charges “like a real man”.
Ms Rantšo, who is also the Minister of Labour and Employment, threw down the gauntlet when addressing hundreds of LCD members at a rally held in Taung constituency, Mohale’s Hoek, on Sunday.
The minister, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Taung, told the cheering gathering that she had become a target of abuse by some party bigwigs over recent weeks due to her refusal to be used to fight “personal battles”.
Ms Rantšo also said her suspension as LCD secretary general early this year, was baseless and malicious as she had never been convicted of any of the crimes she was being accused of.
LCD Deputy Secretary General, Tšeliso Mokhosi, last week told the Lesotho Times that Ms Rantšo and seven other party members would soon be dragged before a disciplinary committee but without stating the charges.
“Right now, I am being accused of heading a faction within the LCD, known as ‘Bolekana’. There are also allegations by my detractors that I will be forming my own party and leaving the LCD, which is absolute nonsense.
“However, what doesn’t really surprise me about these allegations is that the same thing happened in 2012, when the Democratic Congress (DC) split from the LCD, and my detractors were also claiming that I was part of the breakaway party.
“Now the same haters are spreading equally malicious propaganda that I am the leader of the so-called ‘Bolekana’ and that I am going to start a new political party. But as in 2012, they will leave me in the LCD; they will leave this party to start their own parties and I will be standing as a proud LCD member when they are gone. I am still a loyal and devoted member of the LCD, and will remain so no-matter what my detractors will say,” Ms Ranšo said.
Ms Ranšo narrated how the “hatred” started.
“It all started when I was removed from the National Executive Committee as Secretary General (in March this year) without any valid reasons.
“The Taung Constituency Committee was given a list of my alleged offences, which resulted in my expulsion without being given a chance to say my side of the story. However, the most unfortunate thing about the whole issue was that my alleged crimes had been written in English, which made it very difficult for the Committee to understand them.
“Among others, the LCD NEC alleged that I went to Thaba Phechela constituency during the February (2014) by-elections and manipulated the electorate not to vote for LCD candidate, Mr Tšeliso Khomari, which was not true at all.
“And at the moment, the same NEC is using the media to inform LCD members about sensitive party issues, which should never be the case.
“For instance, last week, we heard (LCD Deputy Secretary General and Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs Minister), Tšeliso Mokhosi all over the media talking about a party circular which he said had summoned me to a disciplinary hearing with other seven other LCD members. We were never given any letters summoning us to any disciplinary hearing. Mokhosi and his partners-in-crime are claiming that I am now a member of the Basotho National Party (BNP) and All Basotho Convention (ABC), which is not only untrue but also ridiculous, because I remain an LCD member.
“It is surprising that they are accusing me of going to public gatherings with people who are our partners (ABC and BNP) in the coalition government, which we formed in June 2012. It is also shocking that our own leader (Metsing), and his supporters, turned out to be enemies of the coalition government and became very good friends with the main opposition, DC.
“If ever they had been the best of friends in government, the DC would never be here today; the LCD would not have split in the first place. Mokhosi is now scared of the ABC and BNP because he is not comfortable with me when I go to public gatherings with our coalition partners to explain to the nation about the current political and security instability in the country. Loyal LCD members, you should ask yourselves these questions: who is responsible for the current political and security instability in the country? Who is responsible for the fights within the LCD?
“I am challenging Ntate Metsing to show Congress and leadership qualities and to stand trial if he has been charged in the courts of law. Congress leaders don’t run away from issues but address and resolve them.
“Instead of taking me to a disciplinary hearing, Ntate Metsing should take Mokhosi to the hearing instead, because he is not acting like a Congress person who is also a member of His Majesty King Letsie III’s cabinet.
“This so-called circular is only meant to tarnish our names within the party and to stop some of us from preparing for the general elections next year. If Ntate Metsing continues like this, the LCD won’t even win a single constituency in these early elections, which we are now supposed to hold in February next year. To all loyal LCD members, stop being owned by individuals because each and every one of you made choices to become members of this party. Let Ntate Metsing stand his trial in court like a real man and leader. Ntate Timothy Thahane (former Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs Minister) is still appearing in court (for alleged corruption) and is still an MP for this party.
“I am so proud of him because he is showing leadership qualities by not running away from justice,” Ms Rantšo said.
The minister also urged her supporters not to abandon the LCD, and vote for the party in the upcoming election. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has recommended that Lesotho holds early elections next February following the collapse of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane after his fallout with Mr Metsing over the ABC leader’s alleged failure to consult his coalition partners when making key government decisions.
“You must be proud that come election-time, you will vote for the leader of your choice and there won’t be any gunmen to make a choice for anybody,” Ms Rantšo said.
On his part, the Taung LCD Youth League leader, Mothofela Moletsane, said party members would not be forced into joining the DC by “people running away from their corruption charges”.
“What is even more shocking is that the LCD newspaper, ‘Mololi’ is now pushing the DC agenda, and we are being influenced to buy it. Let me make it clear that we won’t be forced to buy a newspaper that is managed by the DC under the guise that it is an LCD publication,” Mr Moletsane said.