LESOTHO’s longest serving Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, was recently bestowed with a Democratic Congress (DC) lifetime presidency award for championing development and democracy both in government and in the main opposition party.
The lifetime presidency award was presented to the former DC leader on Sunday by the party women’s league. The DC used its recent rally to pass the leadership baton from Dr Mosisili to newly elected party leader Mathibeli Mokhotho who addressed thousands of party supporters for the first time as party leader.
The DC held its three-day elective conference at Ha Foso with all party leadership positions up for grabs after Dr Mosisili, who has also been hailed as champion of development that included construction of road and healthcare facilities, retired as the party leader.
Dr Mosisili was leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) when current Prime Minister Thomas Thabane splintered from it to form the now ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) in 2007. Dr Mosisili was to in turn lead a walkout from the LCD while still being its leader to form the DC. But the DC suffered a major blow after his deputy Monyane Moleleki split from it to form the Alliance of Democrats (AD), now in coalition with the ABC, in 2017
All in all, Dr Mosisili served about 15 years as Prime Minister from May 1998 to June 2012 when he was ousted by a coalition of the ABC and his former LCD. He dramatically returned to power in 2015 after the collapse of the ABC/LCD coalition, only to be ousted again in June 2017 by a second Thabane led coalition.
Dr Mosisili’s announcement that he would retire from active politics in 2022 when Lesotho goes for her general elections, has gained him praises from the party leadership structures who on Sunday hailed him as a development champion.
Speaking at the Sunday DC rally held at Ha Foso, Berea, DC Youth League president Moeketsi Shale said the party was “lucky” to have had a leader of Dr Mosisili’s calibre.
Mr Shale said Dr Mosisili was a perfect example that it is possible for leaders to retire from active politics voluntarily to give way for the fresh blood. He said Dr Mosisili’s decision to retire from active politics had given the Lesotho youth a shot at a better life through the election of the 41-year-old Mr Mokhothu.
“We are witnessing a beautiful thing here, Ntate Pakalitha Mosisili has shown the world that it is indeed possible to give young people a chance,” Mr Shale said.
“DC is a symbol of democracy, just like he did with government, he is at it again passing the baton to a new leader, a young leader whose election into power has given us the young people of Lesotho, whether DC member or not, a renewed hope,” Mr Shale said.
Mr Shale said Dr Mosisili’s decision to retire was a clear indication that the DC was a progressive and democratic party and that Mr Mokhothu was now a beacon of hope for the youths.
He said the DC delegates were allowed to vote for leaders of their choice without being dictated to vote for “one skeleton”, an indication that the new leaders have drawn a mandate from the electorate.
The new DC committee is made up of Mr Mokhothu, deputy leader Motlalentoa Letsosa, chairperson Mosala Mojakisane, deputy chairperson Lethusang Kompi, secretary general Tšitso Cheba, deputy secretary Molise Mofolo, treasurer Letsaba Hlalele, spokesperson Serialong Qoo and deputised by Ramosa Ramaisa.
Tsoeu Mokeretla, Nteboheng Ranthamane, Tebalo Mpiti, ‘Mamookho Phiri, Palo Leteetee and Liphapang Rapontso were also voted into the committee as publicity manager, deputy publicity manager, first to third members of the committee respectively.
“You should be proud of yourselves as DC members. You are in the democratic party. Dr Mosisili has shown us that he is a true democratic leader ready to pass the baton whenever necessary. He did that in government (2012 and 2015 handover to Dr Thabane) and he is doing it today (Sunday) in the party.
“Today I am a happy man. DC is the only hope in Lesotho political landscape. Let’s love each other, be tolerant and support each other at all times as this will enable us to attract new members like that person (Professor Nqosa) who is now being called a useless rag,” Mr Shale said.
On her part, women’s league deputy leader ‘Mamotseki Seteke said Dr Mosisili was known within party structures as a loving, humble, patient and hardworking leader who has always put the interests of the country and the party ahead of his own.
“It was under your premiership that roads, healthcare facilities and schools were built countrywide. It was under your premiership that a Free Primary School programme was introduced in Lesotho and as we speak today, Basotho who benefitted from this programme have graduated from the university. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for your vision to give orphans and vulnerable children a shot a better future,” Ms Sekete said.
She hailed Dr Mosisili for working tirelessly to bring the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology to Lesotho and also praised his government for introducing new salary structures for the teachers, enabling them to “build houses and buy their own vehicles”.
Mr Mathibeli shared the same sentiments with the women’s league, saying that Dr Mosisili’s legacy of road and school facilities; introduction of Free Primary Education in 2002; teachers’ salary increments; fight against the scourge of HIV and AIDS, access to free antiretroviral and subsidised school books will live on for all to see.
“Allow me to thank our Joshua, our leader Ntate Pakalitha Mosisili. The DC members know that he will continue guiding us. He is retiring knowing fully well that he has taken us under his wing and trained us throughout these years, he raised us all even in difficult times.
“We are where we are as the party and country because of his good governance, just like the women’s league deputy leader said, we seen him graciously, patiently, humbly and selflessly taking care of this nation with nothing but love,” Mr Mokhothu said.
He said Dr Mosisili acted against the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) 1998 recommendation that individuals responsible for the mayhem and burning down towns should be arrested, forgiving all those just like he wanted soldiers implicated in the assassination of slain army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao forgiven.
Speaking on behalf of the opposition leaders, Popular Front for Democracy leader Lekhetho Rakuoane said Dr Mosisili has always been a team player willing to meet the opposition halfway in times of trouble, making reference to the introduction of the proportional representation method introduced after the 1998 political upheaval.
SADC oversaw inter-party negotiations which resulted in a new and fairer electoral system combining the first past the post system with proportional representation.
“Allow us to thank Ntate Mosisili for his excellent leadership skills displayed throughout the years. I have worked with you since 1993 and I clearly remember the 1993, 1994 issues but the 1998 was the hardest. You said it yourself on Friday that the 1998 political instability was a baptism of fire for you Ntate Mosisili.
“After the 1998 political instability, I was one of the opposition members who witnessed you extending an olive branch to the opposition through the introduction of the proportional representation,” Advocate Rakuoane said.