MASERU – A former labour minister in the military government of General Metsing Lekhanya in the late 80s, Pius Molapo, is vying for the presidency of the Basotho National Party (BNP).
Molapo will be pitted against party veterans Ranthomeng Matete, current interim leader Thesele ’Maseribane, former National University of Lesotho (NUL) professor Kopano Makoa, Pius Molapo and ’Mabatloung Lillane at next weekend’s elective conference.
The Sunday Express this week spoke to Molapo on how he intends to rescue the former ruling party from the doldrums and help it regain its relevance in Lesotho’s political arena.
Below are excerpts from the interview with our reporter Bongiwe Zihlangu.
Sunday Express (SE): Don’t you think your military background puts a dent on your campaign?
Molapo: Just because I was part of the military does not mean I will be dictatorial. It is wrong to assume all people with a military background are prone to dictatorial tendencies.
SE: What is your long-term vision for the BNP?
Molapo: My vision is to see the BNP becoming strong and reclaiming its former glory in Lesotho’s political arena.
I would love to see a BNP that subscribes to governance by consent, not by coercion.
We need to be seen to be a democratic organisation. If we can’t democratise the BNP, we will never be able to democratise Lesotho.
If a party has the wrong leadership, it deteriorates. I would like to see the BNP become a political organisation that people will seek refuge in, not something reminiscent of army barracks.
It should be a party that people vote for because it speaks their language.
SE: How do you intend to re-organise the BNP at grassroots level?
Molapo: By reviving structures such as constituency committees. The current position is that the committees are not functional. In fact, they are non-existent.
This happened due to the neglect by the previous leader; he held the
party in his hands and blocked access to the rest of the party membership.
He did not have contact with the people. A leader has to be accessible, visible and touchable.
SE: What factors would you say have in the past decade contributed to the disintegration of the BNP?
Molapo: Poor leadership. A leader has to have integrity, breed other leaders and empower people.
Instead of restructuring the party and resolving conflict, he diminished the party.The lack of civic and political education to the people really crippled us.
SE: What would you do differently from Major General Metsing Lekhanya?
Molapo: Despite the general amnesty extended to people, we still need to sit down and talk about what the source of the discord was in the first place.
To really forgive, you have to establish first what was wrong as truthfully and as honestly as possible in order to heal the rift thoroughly.
SE: What do you make of the BNP constitution?
Molapo: It has loopholes and strips people of power and their rights. It has no place in a modern society.
It also does not address the issue of the candidates who are now contesting the presidency while still in the executive committee.
I do not blame them nor do I have anything against their candidatures because our constitution allows it.
It has to be reviewed and married to modern times. It has to have the potential to lead into the future.
A founding document such as a party’s constitution has to endure the test of time. You can’t amend the constitution all the time.
SE: If you become leader, how do you hope to approach the local government elections?
Molapo: By visiting the entire 80 constituencies to ensure that people have registered and that they are educated about local governance and what they should expect from their votes.
SE: What is wrong currently with our local government elections?
Molapo: A whole lot. It is a case of trial and error. The central government has no idea how governance should be decentralised.
SE: What remedies would you provide given the chance?
Molapo: To deal with governance issues as honestly as possible.
Chiefs and councillors need to be taught about what their jobs entail and where their responsibilities begin and end.
There needs to be a definition of the parameters.
SE: There are seven candidates vying for the BNP leadership post. What sets you apart from the rest?
Molapo: I have special qualities that are mine alone. I am tolerant and I respect other people.