Reshuffle angers LCD youth

MASERU — There was pandemonium at the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party offices in Maseru as youths expressed their unhappiness over yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday axed four ministers and an assistant minister in the biggest shake-up of his cabinet since he assumed power in 1998.

Those who were axed are Trade Minister Popane Lebesa, Tourism Minister Lebohang Ntsinyi, Agriculture Minister Lesole Mokoma and Labour Minister Moses Masemene.

Also fired is the assistant minister of education Malijane Maqelepo.

The axed ministers are all believed to be part of a faction wrestling to assume power in the event that Mosisili steps down.

The faction is said to be led by Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and LCD elders’ committee chairman Mpho Malie.

The other faction is said to be led by Natural Resources Minister Minister Monyane Moleleki.

Moleleki and Metsing have both denied that they are leading rival factions.

The party youths, who are said to be aligned to the fired ministers, protested vociferously against the reshuffle yesterday.

Ntsinyi, who is also the LCD’s deputy secretary general and Lebesa, were at the party offices in Maseru yesterday.

The two former ministers arrived at the party offices without their bodyguards.

The ministers were driving their own cars.

The youths, led by former secretary general of the LCD youth league Selibe Mochoboroane, burst into song attacking members of a rival faction said to be led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.

They accused the faction of misleading Mosisili.

Clad in the party’s green, red and black regalia, the youth said their rivals should stop being a bad influence on Mosisili.

Bo-ramenyetla, tlohellang moeta-pele, mo tlohelleng,” they sang in the vernacular Sesotho language which could be loosely translated, opportunists, leave the leader alone, leave him.

Mosisili, as prime minister, has unrestricted powers to choose cabinet ministers for appointment by the king.

The youths also charged that Mosisili had yielded to pressure from the Moleleki faction to wring the changes in his cabinet.

They said they were not happy because the reshuffle had targeted ministers from the Metsing faction.

Ntsinyi came out of the party offices to address the disgruntled youths but stepped back after realising there was a swarm of journalists following the proceedings.

Ntsinyi said the youths were not happy that they were not informed beforehand about the impending reshuffle.

“The youth league says it not happy because it was not informed,” Ntsinyi said.

She however sought to downplay the protests.

“I think this should be dealt with internally,” she said.

Speaking to the youth league’s public relations officer, Thuso Litjobo, Ntsinyi said she could not continue to address the youths in the presence of journalists.

“We can’t continue with these people (journalists) listening,” she said.

Ntsinyi then took a small group of youths including some members of the youth league national executive back to her office.

The youths broke into song again.

Earlier on, Lebesa received a hero’s welcome when he arrived at the party offices.

He was welcomed by Mochoboroane who took him before the party youths before he was whisked to the offices.

Lebesa told the youths that they had not followed proper procedures in holding the impromptu rally at the party offices.

“The procedure has not been followed and I therefore urge everybody to go home,” Lebesa said.

“There is nothing we can discuss now and there is no meeting,” he said.

The youths were reluctant to disperse and continued to sing.

Two party youths identified only as Ramakebane and Moleke then tried to address the press but Lebesa pulled them to the office telling them it was improper for them to do so.

But before he could pull them away, Ramakebane told journalists they had come to show their support to the axed ministers.

“We have come here to show our support to the ministers,” Ramakebane said.

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