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LCD won ‘war against terror’


Billy Ntaote

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has lamented his party’s poor showing in last month’s general election but says the only consolation was the ouster of their erstwhile partners from government.

Mr Metsing made the remarks during the LCD Women’s League’s prayer meeting held on Friday in Maseru, which also coincided with International Women’s Day commemorations.

The LCD leader, who was deputy premier in the outgoing coalition government which also comprised the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP), said his party had incurred “huge losses” in the polls, which saw its constituencies being whittled down from 12 in 2012 to two this year.

Since none of the 23 contesting parties won the minimum 61 seats needed to form government on its own, the “Congress movement”, comprising the LCD, Democratic Congress (DC), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), banded together and formed government on 4 March 2015.

The “Congress alliance” brought to an end Lesotho’s first coalition government formed in June 2012 and headed by ABC leader Thomas Thabane.

Mr Metsing said he found comfort in the departure of Dr Thabane and BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane from government after their alliance with the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) could only muster 55 parliamentary seats.

The root of his differences with the Dr Thabane and Chief ‘Maseribane, he added, was their penchant  for “inflicting pain on others”.

“I could not stand by and watch them continue with their provocative actions,” said Mr Metsing.

“In situations where individuals are accused of engaging in criminal activities, let law-enforcement agencies do their job. We could not continue to work with coalition partners who enjoyed inflicting  pain on others.”

Mr Metsing added after the ABC and BNP leaders would not show any goodwill towards the LCD, the party “worked hard” for government to be returned to “Congress parties” in the  Southern African Development Community-brokered 28 February 2015 snap elections.

“We participated in these elections fighting a war against the terror perpetrated by our former partners. Changing the government was for the greater good of Basotho,” said Mr Metsing.

“We fought a great war against our enemies and incurred huge losses as a party, as a result. However, in the end, we emerged victors and our enemies are out of government.”

He further told the LCD faithful the party’s losses were not in vain as they were a “shield that protected Basotho from one of the worst governments whose leaders were determined to inflict pain and suffering on others”.

“Our LCD is now like a wrecked shield after a tough battle as all the enemy’s weapons were stopped by the party,” said Mr Metsing.

“The few people who voted for us helped rescue Lesotho. In Maseru, we only won a few votes mainly  because some radio announcers were openly telling the people not to vote for us.”

Mr Metsing, who has since been earmarked for the deputy premiership post in the new government whose premier, DC leader Pakalitha Mosisili would be sworn-in on Tuesday this week, said he was happy to note that the electoral loss the LCD suffered had made the party’s Women’s League take the lead in “seeking God’s mercy and blessings”.

“We thought we were going to win the elections but the outcome really surprised us,” Mr Metsing said.

“However, I am proud to see that in our state of shock, we resorted to prayer and realised that God had answered our petitions. God may have answered our requests in the negative when it comes to winning the elections, but we should praise Him and accept the result he has given us.”

Mr Metsing also noted LCD supporters had to endure insults during the campaign period for standing by their leadership.

“Anybody seen wearing our party regalia in the street or travelling in a taxi was insulted with some people using innuendo,” Mr Metsing said.

The LCD, Mr Metsing added, decided to join forces with the DC as the parties’ previous differences were caused by intra-party power-struggles. Mr Metsing fell out with Prime Minister-elect Mosisili after the latter was pressured to make way for new leadership, leading to the formation of the DC in February 2012.

“When it comes to how the government and Lesotho’s development agenda should be advanced, we don’t differ with the DC; we actually have a lot in common,” said Mr Metsing, who was also Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs in the outgoing government.

He assured the gathering that his relationship with Dr Mosisili had “greatly improved” since their bitter fallout of 2012, urging the Women’s League to pray that it remains that way.

“We need prayer so that Ntate Mosisili remains safe and is able to return to office so he can restore order and repair the damage done to government by the outgoing prime minister.”

He lauded the League for commemorating International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on 8 March every year around the globe. Mr Metsing said such commemorations should also be platforms for introspection on how women could be empowered by the incoming government.

Much to the delight of party supporters, Mr Metsing said he supported the idea of Lesotho having a female premier in the future.

“Personally, I am not opposed to this country having a female prime minister as it would go a long way in women’s empowerment,” he said.

“It is good to empower women to participate in high leadership positions. However, the major challenge we should tackle is empowering the women in all sectors of society.”

Mr Metsing highlighted that Lesotho was grappling with high unemployment and poverty which, more often than not, affect women and children.

“We should specifically address the plight of women at grassroots level,” he said.

“We still have women who have nothing to eat together with their children in this country and we should come up with sustainable ways of addressing such challenges.”

He said the challenge for the incoming government and Members of Parliament was how to best address the women and children’s needs.

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