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Moleleki speaks out on Thabane pact


Monyane Moleleki
Monyane Moleleki

Billy Ntaote

DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki has broken his silence on talks with All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane to form a new government, saying both factions in his party were courting the opposition.

Mr Moleleki, who is also Police minister, made the revelation on Friday while addressing hundreds of DC and opposition supporters who gathered to welcome him at his Qoatsaneng Hill home in Ha Tsautse after his arrival from a working visit to Russia and Iran.

This was after the supporters, who had come to welcome the minister at Moshoeshoe I international Airport, were denied entry by armed Special Operations Unit (SOU) and regular police officers. They were eventually dispersed after water cannons and teargas were fired at them.

Led by DC Youth League President Thuso Litjobo, the “vehicle convoy” consisted of supporters and well-wishers from the ABC, Basotho National Party (BNP), Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) among others.

Mr Moleleki, who is also the DC’s member of parliament for the Machache constituency, admitted he is part of the DC faction dubbed Lirurubele (butterflies), adding that talks with former premier Dr Thabane’s ABC were ongoing.

The infighting-plagued DC has another faction, Lithope (loosely translated to girlfriends), that is linked to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

The coalition pact talks have been ongoing with extensive interactions between Dr Thabane and Mr Moleleki amid heightened speculation of a no-confidence motion in the Dr Mosisili-led coalition ahead of the reconvening of the National Assembly on 7 October 2016.

However, the talks had hit a snag over who between the two would become prime minister. Dr Thabane has since reportedly confirmed the talks were still ongoing, saying he was waiting for Mr Moleleki to return from his trip to Russia to finalise the deal.

In his address, Mr Moleleki, said it was not only the Lirurubele faction that was holding talks with the opposition, but the Lithope faction as stated by Dr Mosisili during a leadership conference held earlier this month.

Dr Mosisili had said he was aware factions in the party were conspiring with the opposition to forge new alliances to engineer his ouster.

“We have not had a final agreement at the moment (with the opposition). However, it has since been revealed by the Prime Minister of Lesotho, my DC leader Ntate Mosisili at the opening of our party’s leadership conference that such negotiations are taking place,” said Mr Moleleki.

“He (Dr Mosisili) said some people he is leading in this party, who are today torn into two factions, Lithope and Lirurubele, are both courting parties like the BNP while others are pursuing ABC members to support them into forming a new coalition government.”

He added: “And my faction, which is known as Lirurubele, is in talks with people from those political parties, and I cannot deny that issue.

“However, the major question will be whether the opposition will agree to the overtures of either the Lirurubele or Lithope factions.”

Mr Moleleki said he was fighting to unify Basotho and bring to an end the polarisation that crippled the nation’s institutions.

“I am so moved to see that, in my courtyard, a BNP flag is flying high and there are people wearing ABC and LPC regalia,” he said.

“That means I am one of the first people working towards bringing unity among the people of Lesotho through their different organisations, from political parties to churches and social groups as well as the police and army.

“I urge you to take many pictures of me with all those people wearing their different political party colours so the world will know that I am a unifier of the people of Lesotho and not the cause of this fragmentation.”

The minister also poured scorn on speculation he would be fired from cabinet, saying he had done nothing to warrant such a decision.

Ahead of Mr Moleleki’s arrival, Mr Litjobo had claimed that plans were afoot to either assassinate, fire or arrest him and 10 other cabinet ministers as well as one minister from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

“For a person to be removed from office, it should be because of certain mistakes or failures,” said Mr Moleleki.

“I have been a very loyal member of the DC. However, as a person, I believe it is time that DC members and those from the ABC, LCD, BNP, LPC, BCP (Basotho Congress Party), MFP (Marematlou Freedom Party) and all the other parties should concede that we are a very small population which should work together.”

He said Lesotho’s population was very miniscule compared to the two countries he had just visited, hence the high number of political parties in the country was unnecessary.

“I am coming from Russia and Iran, and both their capital cities have populations about six times more than the whole of Lesotho. The populations in Moscow (Russia) and in Tehran (Iran) far outnumber our total population as a country,” said Mr Moleleki.

“I am saying it is time that our conflicts came to an end. And if I will lose my job as Police minister because I am calling for an end to these never ending conflicts, then I would leave office a very happy man.”

He said the country recently celebrated 50 years of independence, yet the country was deeply divided.

“It is time that we guarantee the unity of our people within political parties and between political parties.

“Within a party, a member of the Lithope faction when seeing a member of the Lirurubele faction, should not see an enemy but should see a colleague who may hold a different opinion on how issues of mutual interest should be handled.”

Asked whether he still had control of the Ministry of Police, Mr Moleleki reiterated his claim that he was encountering “many challenges” in discharging his duties, including being instructed by some government officials to order the selective arrests of their opponents.

“The Ministry of Police and Public Safety is my responsibility. It is my sole responsibility.

“However, I constantly see people appearing over my shoulder saying that I am not doing the right job in carrying out my duties.

“I am always trying to stop those people whenever they are trying to meddle in the affairs of the police service.”

Mr Moleleki said “those people”, whom he refused to mention by name, were “the root cause of all the confusion in the police service”.

“It is not true that the police don’t know their duties and what the Police Act provides. After all, they graduated from the Police Training College,” he said.

“However, there is someone constantly appearing above my shoulder and giving other orders contrary to the ones the police are given. And that is where the problem is.”

Commenting on Mr Moleleki’s remarks, DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo said they left “many questions” about his loyalty to the party and seven-party coalition government.

“His actions have left many of us in shock. How can my party’s deputy leader make such remarks? My leader, Ntate Mosisili in his speech at the leadership conference was actually condemning the factions in the party, but it’s unfortunate that his deputy actually affiliates himself with one of these factions,” said Mr Qoo.

He said it was “unthinkable” that the DC deputy leader’s yard would be filled with people from opposition parties wearing their parties’ regalia.

“The expectation in such a scenario would be that the opposition members would be defecting to the DC.

“I am disappointed by my deputy leader’s actions and I believe this issue can only be resolved by a resolution of the party’s grassroots structures,” said Mr Qoo without elaborating.

However, the Lithope faction, to which Mr Qoo has been linked, has been angling to oust the DC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and youth league, which are affiliated with the Lirurubele faction. They have been lobbying constituencies to issue no-confidence petitions against the youth league and NEC, while also calling for a special conference to elect new leaders.

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