MASERU — The Basotho Congress Party (BCP) will not be part of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the congress party movement in Berea this morning. BCP leader, Thulo Mahlakeng (pictured), last week rejected an invitation extended by the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party to be part of the celebrations. Mahlakeng told the Sunday Express that the commemoration had been “organised by people who do not have the legitimacy to do so”. The BCP was formed by the late premier Dr Ntsu Mokhehle in 1952.
He came to power in 1993 after his party won a landslide victory at the first polls since the reintroduction of democracy. But Mokhehle later dumped the BCP and formed the LCD in 1997. The formation of the LCD left the BCP in ruins and the party has never recovered from the split. Judging by Mahlakeng’s rebuff of the invitation, it appears BCP officials have still not gone over that messy divorce 15 years ago.
In a letter dated December 4, LCD secretary general Keketso Rantšo invited the BCP to commemorate the founding of the congress party ideology. The invitation was also extended to former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party, Kelebone Maope’s Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and former BCP leader Molapo Qhobela’s Basotho African National Congress (BANC).
But in his response dated December 7, Mahlakeng accused the LCD of highjacking the commemorations.
“This is a very important event that simply can’t be planned randomly by people who do not have the legitimacy to do so, lest it leaves us with a bitter taste in our mouths instead of marking the legacy of the congress movement,” Mahlakeng said. “Your invite of the BCP and other congress movement parties to the event and what you stand for is misleading. Inviting the BCP to an event that is rightfully theirs is not only demeaning but also the climax of your deceit.” Mahlakeng added that the LCD had no business claiming ownership of the congress movement legacy as the party is only 15 years old and was “formed under dubious circumstances”. “The truth of the matter is that what is 60 years old is the BCP, formerly known as the Basutoland African Congress and formed on October 7, 1952,” Mahlakeng said.
“You seem to be jumping the gun here, taking ownership of that which does not involve you that much, as if you’re running away from something. Are you running away from something?” “What is the urgency, when did you suddenly realise that you’ve got it all wrong? Maybe we’ll meet so that you can explain that which motivates your actions.” Mahlakeng’s firm view is that the only political party in Lesotho with the right to claim legitimacy in the diamond anniversary of the BCP is the BCP itself and that the LCD was only “trying to shift attention from the fact that it’s in ruins”. “The LCD has no right to shove us aside and claim the spotlight. The party is only 15 years old for God’s sake. They are only seeking attention and running away from their internal squabbles,” Mahlakeng said.
Mahlakeng also in the letter seeks to remind the LCD that it was only in 2007 when the LCD celebrated the 10th anniversary of the formation at the Lepereng ground on the outskirts of Maseru. “You were right then, but now in 2012 you claim to celebrate the commemoration of 60 years of the congress movement when in actual fact it’s the BCP that’s supposed to be doing it,” Mahlakeng said. “By right you should be celebrating your 17th anniversary, but you seem to have forgotten. Unless if you are of course deliberately going all out to deceive.” Mahlakeng told Rantšo that prior to the May 26 national election plans were already underway by the BCP to “commemorate our 60th anniversary on October 7”.
“We had to postpone our plans as we discovered that we were behind schedule with other important issues. But we will continue with our plans when it’s convenient,” Mahlakeng said. “With these words, I therefore urge you and your party to accept, Madam that I will not honour yours and your party’s invite.”