Sekatle attacks Mosisili, praises Thabane


…says Mosisili sided with his rivals and Thabane rescued him me from the “lion’s claws”.

Mohalenyane Phakela

FORMER Democratic Congress (DC) secretary general, Semano Sekatle, has launched a blistering attack on party leader and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, accusing the latter of siding with his party rivals whom he claimed had plotted to reduce him to a “nobody” in the DC.

Mr Sekatle said he joined Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) because the latter had appeared “at just the right moment” and rescued him from the “lion’s claws” as the DC national executive had sought to bury him alive.

The former DC secretary general this week announced his defection to the ABC and was immediately rewarded with an appointment to the cabinet.

Mr Sekatle was on Monday sworn-in as the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, filling the vacancy created by the sacking of then suspended ABC chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, in August this year.

Mr Sekatle is the member of parliament for the Lebakeng constituency and he received the second highest votes in last year’s national elections. Only Dr Thabane, who stood in the Ha Abia constituency, won his seat with more votes than him.

Mr Sekatle, who held different cabinet portfolios in previous governments led by Dr Pakalitha Mosisili is the third high-profile DC member to dump the party to join one of the parties in the ruling coalition.

Development Planning Minister Tlohelang Aumane and Deputy Minister of Education Mothepu Mahapa left the DC last year to join Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD).

Immediately after being sworn-in at the Royal Palace in Maseru on Monday, Mr Sekatle announced that he had ditched the DC to join Dr Thabane’s ABC.

He said his decision was prompted by the “fact that the DC’s national executive committee (NEC) had made his stay in the party a living hell”.

He said that he chose to join the ABC because its leader (Dr Thabane) had approached him and pulled him out of the “hellhole that the DC members were digging for me”.

“The DC especially the NEC, made my stay in the party a living hell. That made me realise that they didn’t need me in the party and as soon as the National Assembly reopens, I will cross the floor from the DC to ABC,” Mr Sekatle said.

Mr Sekatle later explained in an interview at his new offices that he jumped ship after Dr Mosisili sided with senior party officials who burned the midnight candle in secret meetings to remove him from his post and “reduce him to a political nobody”.

He said several DC legislators, including his wife Pontšo ‘Matumelo Sekatle, were no longer happy at the DC although he was not sure whether all of them would follow him to the ABC.

“The executive believes so much in Linakeli (secret night meetings) and those are meetings where plots against other members are formulated in order to trouble such people until they leave the party.

“During a recent leadership conference, it was said that I and other legislators were causing commotion within the party because we wanted to join Ntate (Monyane) Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats. It was painful when the leader (Dr Mosisili) was also believing those allegations. People who were mostly accused were Dr Pontšo ‘Matumelo Sekatle, Tlohang Sekhamane, ‘Mamphono Khaketla and myself.

“I noticed there were plans to bury me alive and soon I would be a nobody, not only in the DC but politically. I can say Ntate Thabane approached me at the right time and snatched me from the lion’s claws.”

Ahead of its elective conference next month which will choose a replacement for Dr Mosisili, the DC has been split into two main camps. One faction, known as Melele, is said to favour deputy secretary general Tlohang Sekhamane who is set to battle with Dr Mosisili’s deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu, for the DC leader’s post.

Mr Sekhamane is a former finance minister, former government secretary and former member of parliament for the Mokhotlong #79 constituency.

The other faction, known as Liphakoe, is said to have thrown its weight behind Mr 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.

Mr Sekatle said he and his wife had never been after the DC leadership post since they were from the same district as Dr Mosisili (Qacha’s Nek) and they believed that his successor should come from another district.

“Our plan has always been to support Ntate Mosisili as our fellow legislator from Qacha’s Nek and we have always moved with him- from the Basotho Congress Party to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and finally to the DC.

“We have never been interested in the leadership post but in helping people. The DC leader (Dr Mosisili) and the executive had a problem with us hence I left. No one can work for the people when they are miserable,” Mr Sekatle said, adding Dr Mosisili needed to introspect as to why people have been leaving him since his time as leader of the LCD.

“The problem with Ntate Mosisili is that of being in power for too long. One cannot be a leader for 21 years and take pride in that.  Ntate Mosisili has even boasted that the person who can beat his record of longevity in power has not yet been born. He is uttering such words when other African countries are moving to change their leaders on a regular basis in order to develop. South Africa has had four leaders, Botswana four and Tanzania three while Ntate Mosisili remained in power.

“He should have long handed over the ropes. Maybe the DC leader should examine himself and ask why he took the leadership of the LCD with 79 constituencies and brought it down to 26 seats.

“He should ask himself why people have left his side. Prominent people like Qhobela Molapo, Ntsukunyane Mphanya, Kelebone Maope, Mpho Maliehe, Lesao Lehohla and Thomas Thabane have left his side. The problem is that he is never wrong but finds fault in others. Today it is me and my wife who are wrong.

“I know that there are more DC MPs who are not happy but I do not know what action they will take but I believe that will be known soon.

“Dr ‘Matumelo is still with the DC for now but she has also been accused of destabilising the party.”

Asked whether he would not encounter similar experiences due to the infighting that has rocked the ABC in recent months, Mr Sekatle was adamant that he had made the right choice.

“There are problems everywhere but the real issue arises when one is accused of things he did not do. Although we have been rivals with Ntate Thabane, he pulled me out of the lion’s den. I know politics are tricky but at times one has to make life changing choices.

“To the Lebakeng constituency people, I know it may be painful now but we will heal with time. I made this move so I could be able to serve people’s interests and develop this country. I will remain Lebakeng ABC legislator till 2022. I accepted Ntate Thabane’s call because he did not only see me as an MP but as someone who could help take the country forward,” Mr Sekatle said.

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