MASERU — Paanya Phoofolo was yesterday elected the new Basutoland African Congress (BAC) leader at the party’s elective conference held at the Emmanuel Hostel in the capital.
Phoofolo, 56, succeeds Khauhelo Ralitapole who retired this month after five years as BAC leader.
Phoofolo was appointed government secretary in 1993 under the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) regime.
He however resigned in 1995 at the height of the BCP’s internal disputes.
Phoofolo joined the BAC at its formation in 2002.
In his inaugural speech yesterday, Phoofolo said he hoped his feet could fit in Ralitapole’s shoes “because hers are shoes too big to fill”.
“But I am sure I can always rely on Ausi Khauhelo, more especially because she has promised that she is not entirely leaving politics,” Phoofolo said.
Phoofolo sang Ralitapole’s praises, describing her as a good leader.
“I worked with her in my time as the BCP government secretary in 1993,” Phoofolo said.
“Her conduct at the time taught me that she was a person of integrity with exceptional leadership qualities.
“When she appealed to me to come and join the BAC and stop participating from the sidelines, I made a vow there and then to support Ausi Khauhelo.
“How could I not when she has been one of the most outstanding women in our country’s politics?”
Phoofolo appealed to all BAC supporters to work hard to build the party.
“This country needs to be rescued from the clutches of poverty and corruption,” he said.
“When you are required by the LCD (Lesotho Congress for Democracy) government to pay a loti to get a job just grin and bear it.
“But in your hearts carry that torch of hope and know that we are all working towards a common cause.”
At the same event, Ralitapole appealed to political leaders to make way for new blood within their political parties.
“Leaders should not suppress potential leaders within their parties simply to feed their urge to cling to power,” Ralitapole said.
Other members of the BAC’s national executive committee are deputy leader Mohopolo Macheli, chairman Sidwell Dlangmandla, secretary-general ‘Mamapele Chakela and spokesperson Kokolia Ramabele.
The BAC is represented in parliament by Ralitapole under the Alliance of Congress Parties banner.