Thotanyana dumps LCD
FORMER Mining Minister Lebohang Thotanyana has cut ties with the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), accusing the Mothejoa Metsing-led party of abandoning its founding principles of democracy.
Mr Thotanyana yesterday told this publication that he had decided to part ways with the LCD after the party’s persistent failure to elect a new national executive committee (NEC) in line with its constitution and democratic practices. The LCD should have held its elective conference in February this year.
Mr Thotanyana also expressed his unhappiness with Mr Metsing’s call for a government of national unity (GNU), saying such an arrangement would only serve the LCD leaders’ interests and not its rank and file members.
“I have left the party,” Mr Thotanyana said yesterday.
“When an individual joins a political party, he or she would have interrogated the party’s ideology and constitution. If the individual is happy with the two, they proceed to join that party because the ideology and constitution unify party members.
“But once the party shifts away from its ideology and constitution, it will be clear that the individual is now in the wrong place because a carpet has been pulled from under his feet and therefore he has to look elsewhere for a new political home.
“So I saw a shift from the LCD’s ideology and a shift from what I believed in and that is why I decided to leave the party.”
Mr Thotanyana said he was particularly unhappy with the LCD’s failure to hold its elective conference to choose a new NEC.
“Failing to go for an elective conference means that we have brought something into the party which was not there. The party constitution clearly states that there are different platforms or conferences for discussing different issues including party policies and we only had two such conferences. Others like the leadership and special conferences are no longer being held as they should.
“Without such conferences, we don’t have a platform to discuss issues and so we end up talking behind each other’s backs.”
He said the party should have held a formal meeting to allow members to air their views on Mr Metsing’s push for a GNU.
He said while senior party officials like him had access to Mr Metsing to air their views the same could not be said of the “48 000 people who voted the LCD in the past elections”.
“Are we saying each and one of them should look for the leader’s phone numbers and call him? Would that be possible? This is why there are different party structures and levels of engagement that should take place in the party and the minute you shift from that principle, you are shutting the people out. So that for me this a matter of principle is a serious matter.”
He said he was against Mr Metsing’s call for a GNU because the electorate did not vote for it and accused the LCD leader of seeking the GNU for the convenience of politicians at the expense of ordinary citizens.
“I am against the GNU because as much as they talk about inclusivity how do we know how the ordinary LCD supporters feel about it without consulting them?
“Are we hijacking the government of Ntate (Thomas) Thabane along the way because Basotho didn’t vote the current government into office to be a GNU? We cannot do what is convenient for our leaders; we have to do what is convenient for the people and that can only be done through an election.
“But the GNU that we are talking about is a coalition of convenience because there is a government that is collapsing because of the infighting within the leading party and somebody (Metsing) comes up and says, ‘I will rescue you on certain conditions’. I am against the GNU. It is not in the best interests of the people. They are arguing that elections are expensive but I don’t agree. They are saying that opting for a GNU would save money but we are not being honest,” he said without elaborating.
Asked which party he will be joining, Mr Thotanyana said “I will leave you guessing until I have decided”.
“Just yesterday four political leaders who had heard that I had left the LCD, called to propose that I join their parties. I am still in the market and until I have decided, I don’t want to speculate on my next move.”
Asked why he had left the party when his constituency had nominated him for the deputy leader’s post in the polls that were due in February, Mr Thotanyana said “I know I have disappointed a lot of people, men and women that have walked the long journey and shared a common goal with me”.
“I know that many had put their hopes on me but it wouldn’t be in their best interests for me to stay and get elected knowing that we have shifted from our fundamental principles.”
Meanwhile, LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata said Mr Thotanyana should “stop hiding behind non-issues like the NEC elections” when he was part of the LCD leadership conference that resolved to suspend the party polls.
“The leadership conference decided against holding the elective conference when because our leader (Mr Metsing) and his deputy (Tšeliso Mokhosi) were still in exile last year. No political party has been persecuted like the LCD and therefore we needed to concentrate on what was at stake.
“The leader only returned to the country in November last year and at that time his security was still shaky and therefore we didn’t go for the elections. So it is not true that we have shifted from our democratic principles because we are holding elections in September this year. Ntate Thotanyana is free to leave without hiding behind non-starters like this issue of elections,” Mr Sekata said.
He said the LCD has always been clear that the GNU was in the best interests of the Lesotho as it would bring together Lesotho’s best crop of politicians to find a long lasting solution to the country’s problems.