MASERU — Prominent academic Professor Kopano Makoa on Friday said leading the opposition Basotho National Party (BNP) was “an assignment I don’t fear”.
Makoa, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), was speaking to the Sunday Express in an exclusive interview.
Makoa made the remarks in the wake of recent media speculation that he was set to challenge Metsing Lekhanya for the leadership of the BNP at the party’s conference in March.
The BNP will hold its conference on March 19.
“I have not said specifically that I want to be the BNP leader,” Makoa said.
“However that is one assignment I do not fear.”
The remarks all but confirmed for the first time that he was ready to throw his hat into the ring at the party conference.
“I have not envisioned myself as the BNP leader,” he said.
“I am just part of the people seeking change. “But that does not mean I will not contest the leadership
“I made a pact with the people who nominated me that I would stand for elections.”
Makoa said assuming the reins of the BNP would not be something new as he had “led before”.
“I cannot say whether or not I am leadership material,” he said.
“But I have held leadership roles before in smaller organisations.
“However, the decision to elect me into the leadership of the party will be determined by the people entitled to vote.”
Makoa rejected charges by Lekhanya that he would not make a good leader as he was
inconsistent and untrustworthy. Lekhanya last Wednesday told the Lesotho Times that
Makoa had betrayed the BNP when he briefly defected to the National National Progressive
Party (NPP) after the 1995 general conference only to return to the party soon after.
Lekhanya said it was impossible to trust him.
Makoa was not amused by Lekhanya’s remarks.
“If there is anybody who is a traitor here, it has to be Mr Lekhanya,” Makoa hit back.
“He is the one who toppled the BNP regime after all.
“It has been a downward spiral for the BNP since then.
“I am surprised he has the guts to label me untrustworthy when he single-handedly ran the BNP to the ground.
“I will not stoop low by trading insults with Mr Lekhanya.
“However, I dismiss his uninformed claims with contempt.”
Makoa said the party’s support base had dwindled significantly under Lekhanya’s leadership.
“If I were to become the BNP leader, the first thing on the agenda would be to restore people’s faith in the party,” he said.
“The dramatic loss of membership is a clear sign that people no longer have confidence in the BNP.”
He said if he is elected leader, he would seek to rid the party of corrupt elements and “help it reclaim the political space it lost under Lekhanya’s supervision”.
Makoa told the Sunday Express that the BNP must be transformed into a vibrant and democratic institution devoid of dictatorial practices.
He said under Lekhanya the BNP was being run like a “military institution”.
“Lekhanya has succeeded in turning the BNP into something akin to a military institution,”
“The party needs urgent transformation.”
The BNP is currently in political turmoil after Lekhanya two weeks ago expelled seven party officials for alleged insubordination.
Makoa said the decision to expel the seven was “a miscalculated move on the BNP leader’s part”.
“It was a horribly miscalculated move on his part,” Makoa said.
The expelled members were kicked out after they — three weeks ago — nominated Makoa to run for the leadership of the BNP.
“It was a desperate attempt to stem the tide of the pressure he is under,” Makoa said.
“Lekhanya intimidates by ejecting people out of the party.
“Leaders of quality do not under any circumstances resolve to jungle tactics.”
He said the expulsion of the seven had only strengthened the people’s resolve to kick out Lekhanya.
“The expulsion will no doubt strengthen people’s belief that Lekhanya has overstayed his welcome and that he should leave,” Makoa said.