OPPOSITION leaders recently held a close door meeting with the retired leader of the Democratic Congress (DC) Pakalitha Mosisili to congratulate him for “peacefully handing over the reigns to a younger leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu”.
The meeting was held at the National Assembly buildings on Thursday and it was attended by leaders of some opposition parties including those that are not represented in parliament.
Speaking to the Sunday Express in the aftermath of the opposition’s Thursday meeting, DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo said the opposition leaders felt compelled to thank Dr Mosisili for setting a good precedent by voluntarily stepping down. They said Dr Mosisili’s example should be emulated by other older leaders including those in the current government which is led by the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
“Ntate Mosisili has set a good precedent both as a former prime minister and party leader. Twice in his lifetime he handed over power to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane peacefully and he recently proved to us all that it is possible for an African politician to voluntarily step down as a party leader,” Mr Qoo said.
“The (Thursday) meeting was attended by leaders of the opposition parties that were with us in the (previous) coalition government as well as other opposition parties. And we all officially congratulated him for setting the bar high.
“The leaders further expressed the hope that other leaders in Ntate Mosisili’s age group, especially in the (current) government, will follow in Ntate Mosisili’s footsteps and allow fresh blood to lead their respective political parties.”
Last year, Dr Mosisili surprised all and sundry when he announced that he had decided to call it a day, allowing Mr Mokhothu and former DC deputy secretary general Tlohang Sekhamane to contest the leadership position which was eventually won by Mr Mokhothu.
Dr Mosisili formally communicated his decision to quit in a moving letter dated 9 November 2018 to DC supporters. In the letter, Dr Mosisili likened himself to a dancer who must eventually relinquish the stage regardless of how good his dance moves are.
The former premier bemoaned the-then “shocking levels” of infighting in his party and accusations that he favoured some members at the expense of others. This, he said, had compelled him to announce his decision to quit in writing instead of communicating it orally.
“No matter how good a dancer you may be, there must be a time to come down from the stage and such a time has come for me to step aside,” Dr Mosisili wrote.
“I take opportunity to humbly notify you that I shall not be contesting for the party’s leadership in the up-coming elective conference and therefore this means that as you ready yourself (for the conference), know that the leadership vacancy is also up for grabs and you should all be ready to elect a new leader.”
In a recent interview with the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication, Dr Mosisili said he would have quit before the 2012 elections to allow the DC to contest the elections with a new. He said he did not step down after his supporters begged him to stay on.
Dr Mosisili said political leaders should know when to let go and avoid being corrupted by power. He said leaders must know that they are chosen not because they are smarter than their subjects but because of trust bestowed by their followers.
“People who are aspiring to lead in politics should always remember that leaders are not born but instead they are made. It should also be very clear that one is entrusted with a position of power not because they are smarter than the rest but because of the trust bestowed by the subjects.
“People only choose to lend us such powers and we should learn to step down when the time comes and give others a chance. The power I had as the leader of the party and country was not mine but was lent to me by the people.”
He said his time as leader of DC and Prime Minister had taught him more about humility than he had ever imagined.
“Leadership has taught me a great lesson and has humbled me in a great way, far way more than I had ever imagined and I now know that leadership is not child’s play.
“If all those aspiring to be future leaders and all African leaders who are already in power would take heed of the fact that power is not all that matters and that absolute power corrupts, then the entire African continent would be a better place to be and the livelihoods of its people would be improved,” Dr Mosisili said.
He said he was sad to be departing the scene at a crucial time when Lesotho was seized with the multi-sector reforms process. He vowed to remain steadfast to the process nevertheless.
“I should admit that I am stepping down at quite a crucial time but I will be there throughout the process from the back bench. My humble plea and earnest prayer is that we as Basotho won’t let anyone set the reforms agenda for us or ruin the reforms for us.
“The reforms are not about the leadership only but they should be informed by the people of this country and be owned by them. This is a life time opportunity which we should not let go by. We have been afforded a great opportunity to shape the Lesotho we want,” Dr Mosisili said.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has given Lesotho until May this year to have fully implemented the constitutional and security reforms that are seen as crucial to achieving lasting peace and stability in the Kingdom.