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‘We squandered our privilege’


mosisiliBongiwe Zihlangu

Arrogance, jealousy, thirst for elite positions and selfishness, have led to the fragmentation of Congress parties, weakening them to a point of seeking partners to form government, says Democratic Congress (DC) leader and Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili.

Addressing the DC Youth League elective congress in Maseru yesterday, Dr Mosisili said although one united Congress party was strong enough to win all constituencies 20 years ago, “it’s no longer the case today”.

“There was a time, from 1993 to 1998, when one Congress party could win all the country’s constituencies, affording us the opportunity to govern alone.

“But we squandered that privilege. Today it’s difficult to form a government on our own,” Dr Mosisili said.

According to Dr Mosisili, the constant bickering and splits among Congress parties had led to the revival of “Nationalists”.

“I am saying this with a heavy heart, that due to the constant bickering and splits, Nationalist parties have been revived. They now have 41 constituencies to our 39,” Dr Mosisili said.

“And yet not so long ago, no Nationalist party could win even a single constituency, hence I am saying we squandered our privilege. We are to blame for allowing these Nazis to beat us. We have the Proportional Representation (PR) system to thank for making it back into government.”

The 28 February 2015 poll saw the Basotho National Party (BNP) winning five PR seats as well as the Mt Moorosi constituency in Quthing district, previously held by DC MP Kose Makoa.

The All Basotho Convention (ABC) led by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, on the other hand, won 40 constituencies — a resounding improvement from the 26 seats the party garnered in the 2012 elections, and a far cry from the 17 it acquired in 2007, four months into its formation.

The premier further gave a chronology of the splits, saying the once-mighty Basotho Congress Party (BCP) gave birth to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in 1997, only for the LCD to split again and produce the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) in 2002, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) in 2006, the DC in 2012 and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) late last year.

The DC leader added party members should guard against the compulsion to secure power and riches for themselves, as well as jealousy and greed—vices he said only emerge when Congress parties are in power.

“When we are out in the cold, we unite and fight the enemy together. But once we return to government, we are quickly divided by our personal interests; the very same problem that has dogged us from 1993. This disease becomes even worse come election time,” Dr Mosisili said.

“When we’re not in government, we do not fight amongst ourselves because there are no positions of power, no opportunities for elite posts at embassies. But once we are in, people are not satisfied because we all want to gain something. People start to complain and fight you.”

Dr Mosisili also related that for 45 years before the BCP came to power under the leadership of the Congress movement founder, Dr Ntsu Mokhehle, “it was a united force that never broke apart”. However, the prime minister said 15 years after becoming government “we have split so many times”.

He added: “Now tell me, what’s the difference between a united Congress movement that stayed together for 45 years and the one that disintegrated in just 15 years?

“The answer I get is that for 45 years, we were in the wilderness like the Israelites, fighting together in the struggle to liberate Lesotho. But, in the other 15 years, we had independence, opportunities and also fought for leadership.

“In those 45 years, there were no MP positions, no ministerial posts, no principal secretaries, no ambassadorial posts, all those posts that everybody wants.”

The DC leader warned party supporters if they continue with their “destructive tendencies”, they would be the losers.

“You’ll be letting go of the goose that lays the golden egg because of your greed and selfishness. Even now it was not a child’s play for us to regain power,” Dr Mosisili noted.

“We had to cobble up our numbers alongside those of other parties to get our foot in the door.”

Dr Mosisili also said the DC and its allies should thank Dr Thabane’s “appalling governing style”, which he said led to Congress parties uniting to form a coalition government.

Ntate Thabane’s appalling leadership style helped us realise that we needed each other, that no single party in Lesotho can establish government on its own,” Dr Mosisili said.

Dr Thabane formed Lesotho’s first coalition government with the LCD and BNP but could not see it to the prescribed five years when relations turned sour between him and his then deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing.

Mr Metsing went on to form the current coalition government with the DC, BCP, LPC, National Independent Party (NIP), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) and Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).


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