ROMA — The late politician Anthony Manyeli died a bitter man over the way he lost control of his National Independent Party (NIP), speakers said at his funeral yesterday.
Manyeli, 97, was buried at his village at Roma, 37km from Maseru.
He died on February 9 due to natural causes, according to his grandson Tseliso Manyeli.
Politicians and relatives remembered Manyeli as a man of “integrity” and a “vessel of knowledge”.
Manyeli, a former public service and education minister between independence in 1966 and 1972, formed the NIP in 1984 after falling out with the then prime minister Leabua Jonathan.
The veteran politician was to lose control of his party after the 2007 elections when his then deputy, the late Dominic Motikoe, arbitrarily went into an alliance with the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) against Manyeli’s wishes.
Members of Motikoe’s faction went into parliament through the proportional representation system while Manyeli lost the legal battle to have his group declared the legitimate NIP.
The Chief of Roma, ‘Mamohale Maama, said Manyeli might not have been ill physically “but he suffered from emotional torture” over the NIP issue.
“Ntate Manyeli suffered from immense emotional torture, brought about by him losing that which he had worked hard for, having to watch it slip right through his fingers,” Chief Maama said at the funeral yesterday.
“I wish today’s programme had made room for a slot called “Manyeli’s enemies” so that they could be given a chance to ask for his forgiveness for all the pain they caused him.”
Manyeli’s visibly irate grandson, Moiloa Manyeli, dared “anyone who wants to take my grandfather’s NIP to do so here and now”.
“Whoever wants the NIP badge should take it now if they have the guts to lay a claim on it,” he said.
Moiloa said his grandfather was against going into an alliance with the LCD.
“My grandfather never agreed to work with the LCD,” he said.
“He told them straight out he doubted they would make a winning team because they had failed to work together on several occasions before.”
When he died Manyeli was still facing contempt of court charges arising from remarks he allegedly made in a newspaper interview over the contentious proportional representation seats issue.
Finance Minister Timothy Thahane told mourners it was sad Manyeli had died before the case had been finalised.
“It is a pity that Ntate Manyeli has died leaving behind a pending court case concerning what he believed was failure to observe principles of justice,” Thahane said.
“He believed that he had not been afforded the justice he felt he deserved by the courts of law.”
Thahane said Manyeli had a firm head on his shoulders “and I know that because he was my mentor”.
“Ntate Manyeli was also a man of immense integrity,” he added.
“He was a staunch disciplinarian and a man who held on to his beliefs even when the odds were stacked against him.
“He was not easily swayed and was always unyielding in his pursuit to achieve greatness.”
Thahane described Manyeli’s passing as a great loss to the government and the people of Lesotho.
“We have lost as the government. The Basotho people have also lost a valuable gem,” he said.
“He was a vessel of knowledge, someone from whom this nation could draw wisdom.
“He was also an inspiration for us all to hold the elderly in high regard.”
The leader of the main opposition All Basotho Convention, Thomas Thabane, also spoke about his admiration of Manyeli’s tenacity.
“He was a great man who always got things done,” he said. “He was also very stubborn and never succumbed to pressure.”