Minister officially announces she has left the LCD
Labour and Employment minister Keketso Rantšo on Friday officially announced her membership of the newly formed Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), popularly known as ‘Bolekana’, finally confirming local politics’ worst kept secret.
Ms Rantšo had repeatedly denied being part of the RCL despite glaring evidence confirming her membership.
However, the minister—who was suspended as Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general in February this year following a bitter power-struggle with party leader Mothetjoa Metsing—was one of several former LCD members unveiled as RCL leaders at Friday’s media briefing.
Public Service minister and former LCD deputy leader Motloheloa Phooko, as well as outgoing Members of Parliament (MPs), ‘Mamolula Ntabe and Matšeliso Tuoane, were also officially unveiled as RCL members during the conference.
The party’s interim committee chairperson, ‘Mamasakale Masakale told journalists they had decided to break away from the LCD after irreconcilable differences with Mr Metsing. The RCL is predominantly made up of former LCD members, unhappy with Mr Metsing’s leadership.
“We had our differences with Deputy Prime Minister Metsing and the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC),” Mrs Masakale said.
“These are the people who should be held accountable for the split that is currently rocking the LCD.
“We did not want to leave the LCD, but after failing to agree with Ntate Metsing and some of the NEC members on a number of issues, we were left with little choice but to leave and form the RCL that we hope is going to make a positive contribution to the country’s political landscape.”
Ms Rantšo also told the media that she was happy to have finally left the LCD and joined ‘Bolekana’ even though it had been a tough decision to make.
According to the minister, she was forced to leave the LCD because the party was in disarray after it had been made Mr Metsing’s “personal property”.
“Ntate Metsing would breach the party’s constitution at will and claim that he had the powers to do as he pleases because he is the leader. I was forced out of the NEC as secretary general in April this year over petty reasons,” Ms Rantšo said.
“According to my suspension letter, I was accused of not writing to the party’s Veterans Committee for the disciplinary hearing of some LCD members. This came as a shock to me because the NEC or Ntate Metsing himself never instructed me to write such a letter. Secondly, I was accused of causing factions within the party, which were pure lies and honest LCD members know it.
“I held a rally in Taung in Mohale’s Hoek and advised LCD youths to unite for the growth of the party, and that was one of my sins that I was punished for by Ntate Metsing and some of the NEC members. Lastly, I was blamed for not being active in the February by-elections held in Thaba-Pechela and Thaba-Moea, which was also not true at all,” Ms Rantšo added.
The minister further blasted Mr Metsing as “a dictator who wanted to kill my political career” because he never set dates for her disciplinary hearing.
“According to the LCD constitution, when one is accused of misconduct, he or she should not participate in campaigns until he or she has been cleared of any wrongdoing. My hearing date was not set for the simple reason that Metsing did not want me to compete in the 28 February 2015 national elections.”
Ms Rantšo said another surprise was when Mr Metsing wanted to impose a principal secretary on her ministry without consulting her.
“According to the Coalition Agreement that the LCD, All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) signed when the three parties formed a coalition government in 2012, and the country’s constitution, the prime minister appoints principal secretaries through the advice of the responsible minister. I committed no sin by submitting the name of the PS I wanted to work with to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, and yet I was vilified for it by Ntate Metsing.”
Ms Rantšo also made fun of some LCD leaders who attended the launch of the Democratic Congress’ (DC) election manifesto in Ha Foso last Sunday. Mr Metsing has since formed an alliance with the DC led by former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili. Dr Mosisili, who was LCD leader at the time, left the party in February 2012 to form the DC after falling out with Mr Metsing, who was then the party’s secretary general. However, the two leaders appear to have patched up their differences.
LCD acting spokesperson Selibe Mochoboroane and the party’s Elders Committee member Mpho Malie attended the DC star rally in Ha Foso, which marked the beginning of the party’s election campaign. Lesotho goes to the poll two years early after the coalition government leaders squabbled over Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s failure to consult his fellow principals when making key decisions with a bearing on good governance.
“I could not believe it; I said to myself, is this real that these very senior LCD members are so happy and dancing at a DC rally? You can’t claim good leadership while you rejoice with your competitor who is taking your supporters day in and day out.”
Ms Ntabe also had a go at Mr Metsing’s “poor leadership skills”.
“He would go around constituencies holding secret meetings popularly known as ‘linakeli’ and create factions within constituencies.
“In Ha Mabote where I come from, we ended up with two constituency and women’s league committees because of Ntate Metsing. We ended up not knowing which is which. He would also dismiss LCD members in those meetings and claim that they were not members of the party.
“I always wondered how he knew LCD supporters from Ha Mabote, when he was from Mahobong constituency,” she said.
Ms Ntabe also said she decided to leave the LCD because she was being side-lined from LCD parliamentary caucuses, despite being an MP.
“Myself and Tuoane were being side-lined from LCD caucuses in Parliament and would be embarrassed by being expelled if we attended them without invitations,” she added.
Ms Ntabe further said she and her colleagues are “very happy” to have quit an “oppressive party”.
“A brave leader tries all means possible to secure his membership but it is the opposite with Ntate Metsing because he becomes even happier when he loses members.”
Contacted for comment on Friday, LCD Acting Secretary General Tšeliso Mokhosi said the party was happy that Mr Phooko, Ms Rantšo, Ms Ntabe and Ms Tuoane had finally left.
“They were a troublesome lot, and no longer active in the party. We definitely wish them luck and are so happy that they finally left the party in peace,” Mr Mokhosi said.