Why I ditched the AD for the RFP: Phamotse
’Marafaele Mohloboli/ Bongiwe Zihlangu
FORMER Alliance of Democrats (AD) secretary-general Mahali Phamotse says she dumped the party for the newly formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) because of unnamed erstwhile colleagues who “cast aspersions on my integrity” and “blamed me for all that has gone wrong with the AD”.
Dr Phamotse formally resigned as AD secretary-general on Tuesday morning. She handed in her resignation letter to AD leader, Monyane Moleleki, at his Qoatsaneng, Maseru residence on the same day.
The Lesotho Times crew, that had been invited by Mr Moleleki for an early morning interview, found Dr Phamotse in the living room of her former leader’s residence. She was in the company of the AD leader’s wife, Malimpho Moleleki, and the couple’s eldest daughter, Limpho.
A day earlier, this publication had sought her out to shed light on the reasons for dumping the party she helped found in 2016.
Dr Phamotse told this paper that “things had not been good for a while in the AD but I had stuck it out for my leader because I had hoped he would eventually become Lesotho’s Prime Minister”.
But she eventually decided to join business tycoon Sam Matekane’s newly formed RFP because it preached job creation, national unity and the eradication of corruption and nepotism in the public service.
In an apparent swipe at Mr Moleleki, Dr Phamotse said the AD preached the same gospel “but at least the RFP leader has a reputation for being an implementer”.
“Ntate Matekane preaches job creation, national unity and eradication of nepotism. This resonates with me because that is what the AD stood for. Ntate Matekane is way better because he is an implementer. He walks the talk. He has a track record of implementing every project he undertakes
“Despite the AD’s good intentions, it is still a small party and it doesn’t have the financial muscle that the RFP has. I still love my party (AD) but we failed to implement our policies. I trust that as someone who understands the ins and outs of business, Ntate Matekane is in a better position to ensure that what he promises materialises,” Dr Phamotse said.
She expressed confidence that with its policies and Mr Matekane’s “shrewd business sense”, an RFP government would attract investors to Lesotho to open up various industries.
“Being the prominent businessman that he is, Ntate Matekane has access to a wide range of investors who he can convince to come and invest in Lesotho. I don’t expect him to dig into his own pocket but I trust that he will bring investors who will help Basotho with different business ventures in their various constituencies. Eventually, we will have entrepreneurs at different levels.”
Asked to describe her relationship with Mr Moleleki, she said to her knowledge there was no bad blood between them. She, however, let slip that things were no longer rosy between them due to unnamed AD members who had influenced Mr Moleleki against her to the point where he was no longer taking her calls.
“I don’t think there is bad blood between me and my leader. I still respect and hold him in high regard. It’s just that there are some people who have made it their business to come between us. These are only a few people who stand to benefit for as long as Ntate Moleleki remains AD leader. These are the people who have turned him against me, to a point where he refuses to take my calls no matter how hard I try to reach out to him.
“I realised that lately he only wants to meet me in the presence of other people, which was not the case before. Now he wants me to discuss sensitive issues only when other people are present, thus setting me up for attacks. It then means that I cannot advise him on issues that are better talked about in private,” Dr Phamotse said.
On Tuesday, Mr Moleleki spoke glowingly of Dr Phamotse despite her decision to dump the AD. He described her as the best secretary general anyone could wish for her and wished her well at the RFP. He however, said she had departed because unlike him, she had not been able to withstand pressure from unnamed individuals. He did not say what that pressure was.
Contacted for comment, AD spokesperson, Thuso Litjobo, was less charitable in his remarks about Dr Phamotse.
Mr Litjobo said prior to jumping ship, Dr Phamotse had attempted to “lobby us to have the AD swallowed by the RFP”.
He accused Dr Phamotse of being an unreliable secretary general who had abused her office by holding clandestine meetings with various AD constituencies to lobby them to join the RFP “under the pretext that our party had ceased to exist”.
He further alleged that Dr Phamotse recently called for an NEC meeting in Mr Moleleki’s absence, wherein she tried to convince them to disband the AD and join the RFP. Alternatively, she wanted them to make Mr Matekane their new leader. But she was “swiftly called to order” and thereafter she recused herself from all NEC business and general party activities, Mr Litjobo charged.
“There was a day when the AD leader had travelled to Senegal. An emergency NEC meeting was called wherein ‘M’e Mahali (Phamotse) tried to sell us the idea of either dissolving the AD, or merging it with the RFP, or making Ntate Matekane our leader.
“The worst part is that she went as far as insisting that the AD had ceased to exist because it allegedly no longer had support in any of the constituencies. She even alleged that my brother Refiloe and I were also on our way out of the AD. I was worried and the others were shocked by her proposal that the party be dissolved or be swallowed by RFP. I called a second NEC meeting two days later which she did not attend.
“This time the leader was there. I called that meeting because I wanted the leader to dismiss the allegations made by ‘M’e Mahali in her quest to lobby support for the RFP. I want you to note in capital letters that ‘M’e Mahali went out of her way to convince our members not to attend the leader’s meeting. She was adamant that people should leave the AD for the RFP. She went as far as handing out RFP membership forms to our members in the Leribe district,” Mr Litjobo said.
He said they later confronted Dr Phamotse over her unbecoming conduct and she subsequently left the AD.
Some AD sources alleged that Dr Phamotse and others had jumped ship after being frustrated by Mr Moleleki’s refusal to step down and hand over the reins to Mr Matekane who they had earmarked to replace him. They claimed the AD had previously received financial support from the business mogul and other prominent business persons. However, this had dried up after Mr Moleleki backtracked on his earlier commitment not to contest this year’s upcoming elections. They said during a series of the AD’s internal discussions since last year, Mr Moleleki had agreed to quit politics and pave way for Mr Matekane to takeover the party’s leadership reins. However, Mr Matekane was not even approached to take over the AD due to opposition from some party stalwarts like Mr Litjobo who felt their political fortunes were tied to Mr Moleleki remaining at the helm of the opposition party.
The likes of Dr Phamotse, who had supported Mr Matekane’s incorporation into the AD, eventually got frustrated and packed their bags after the latter formed the RFP. Mr Matekane was not reachable to comment on these allegations yesterday.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Moleleki denied that they had ever discussed bringing Mr Matekane into the AD to succeed him. Nor had they ever considered merging the AD with the RFP.
He said he had enormous respect for Mr Matekane as a businessman but not as a politician.
He said politics was best left to hardcore politicians and not businesspeople like Mr Matekane.
In any event, if Mr Matekane wanted to be in politics, he had to form his own party like he had done and not takeover an existing party, Mr Moleleki said.