Metsing says not bitter about coalition snub
- implores ABC, DC to use their alliance for national development
OPPOSITION Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing says he has no ill-feelings and wishes the new coalition government well even though his party was left out of its pact.
He said the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC) should make the most of their new found alliance to work on the constitutional and other reforms to ensure lasting stability without which it would be impossible to achieve socio-economic development in Lesotho.
The ABC and DC recently formed a new government replacing the previous Thomas Thabane-led four party coalition. The coalition is supported by eight other parties. Despite his long-standing calls for a government of national unity (GNU), Mr Metsing was left out of the new government most likely because he stood on the fence when both the ABC and DC sought his support in last year’s abortive bid to dislodge former prime minister Thomas Thabane through a no confidence vote in parliament.
Mr Metsing refused to support the two parties unless they committed to a GNU of all political parties as well as the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to deal with past cases of human rights violations. The former deputy prime minister even went as far as negotiating a deal to join Mr Thabane’s then government but this failed to materialise after it was vetoed by the national executive committee (NEC) of Mr Thabane’s own ABC.
The LCD was left in the cold when the ABC-DC anchored coalition officially came into being on 20 May 2020. Former deputy prime minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) was also dumped by the wayside for supporting Mr Thabane against his own party’s NEC and legislators who wanted him gone.
But despite the snub, Mr Metsing says he is not a bitter man. He said neither the ABC nor the DC ever approached him to support their coalition agreement signed last month. He said this was an indication that the two parties did not need his party as they had the numbers to form a stable government.
“It is not true that we declined an invitation to join the coalition,” Mr Metsing told the Sunday Express this week.
“I knew from the start when their coalition was just an idea that was being touted but we were never invited to join. But they invited other parties they are comfortable working with.
“In any case, the ABC and DC collectively have the numbers to run a stable government. So, I think they never saw the need to invite us because they had enough numbers.”
Mr Metsing said he had no problem remaining in the opposition, adding the speaker of parliament, Sephiri Motanyane, would soon have to decide which of the AD and LCD leaders should be the leader of opposition in parliament since both have 11 seats each.
Mr Metsing said even if they were not part of it, the ABC-DC deal supported by eight parties came close to the GNU he had envisaged.
He said the two parties must now take advantage of their new found unity of purpose to guide Lesotho in crafting an enduring constitution to ensure lasting stability as was the case in some countries that negotiated political settlements after many years of civil strife.
He cited post-apartheid South Africa in 1993 and Kenya in 2007 as some of the countries that had achieved stability after prolonged periods of conflict.
“We are now at that stage where we have to make one of the best constitutions in the world. Countries that have had unity governments such as South Africa now have some of the best constitutions because there was a unity of purpose in those governments. People had a common goal. Kenya also has one of the best constitutions in the world and it came in the aftermath of the 2007 political conflict where many people were murdered.
“Lives were lost and they had to do something. They (Kenyans) came up with a unity government. Their focus was to heal. Unfortunately for us here at home people seem to think that our problems are not yet of that magnitude. But we have been unstable for far too long since the 1994 assassination of Ntate (Selometsi) Baholo and the kidnapping of cabinet ministers,” Mr Metsing said, adding the ABC infighting had led to increased unemployment and poverty.
“I am happy that the ABC and DC have enough numbers to form government. What now remains is for them to prove that they have a unity of purpose not just the numbers. They should at least have two or three common goals for them to be a success,” he said adding the biggest challenge facing the new government was to ensure the successful implementation of the multi-sector reforms and mitigating the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the economy.
Mr Metsing said he hoped they would one day find each other with “our congress brothers” DC as they had done before.
“I believe we will reunite quickly with them (DC) no matter how much we have hurt each other. We once had our differences in 2012 (leading Mr Metsing to form a coalition with the ABC). But in 2014 I went back to them (leading to the formation of the DC-led seven parties coalition from 2015 to 2017). I don’t wish their coalition with the ABC to fail but the truth is that our (DC and LCD) values are similar because our orientation and socialisation are the same,” he said.