. . . analysts dismiss BNP contenders as unfit to lead
MASERU – The two Basotho National Party (BNP) hopefuls for the coveted post of deputy leader, Chief Joang Molapo and Machesetsa Mofomobe, lack the gravitas and political acumen to reinvent the BNP, analysts say.
The duo, who were in 2016 elected to the BNP’s national executive committee as deputy leader and spokesperson respectively and are now competing for re-election to the NEC, have nothing more to give the party because “they are saturated, hit the ceiling”, the analysts add.
Speaking to Public Eye yesterday the analysts referred to this paper’s last week issue titled ‘Molapo, Mofomobe undress each other’, where the duo exchanged slurs, with Mofomobe calling Molapo an infidel, while the latter defended himself by labelling Mofomobe a bully who hated dissenting voices.
Therefore, the analysts argue, the duo has nothing concrete to offer the BNP, hence they will resort to airing their dirty linen in public “especially because they have both become synonymous with infidelity”.
They also throw another dimension into the mix, noting that because Mofomobe is the nephew to BNP leader Chief Thesele ’Maseribane and a favourite of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who shares a personal and historical relationship with ’Maseribane’s late parents, Mofomobe stood a better chance to win the post of deputy leader.
Molapo, on the other hand, despite being the son of a chief was seen as the black sheep of the party.
He has come under harsh criticism for his insistence that the BNP mend relations with congress parties and his “suspicious” relationship with the leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing.
These factors, the analysts claim, were perpetuated by his family’s history as his father, was also criticised for his closeness to members of congress parties back in the 1960s and 1970s.
The BNP elective conference, initially penciled in for two weeks ago, has been postponed indefinitely to make way for the Women’s League Elective Conference and conclusion of the 2018 Thaba-Tseka conference where the Treasurer-General failed to submit his financial report.
However, as per the party’s circular of March 7, 2019, election campaigning for individual candidates continues, hence Mofomobe’s launch of his own election manifesto on Sunday.
Mofomobe and Molapo who is in his second term as BNP deputy leader, having been initially elected to the party’s NEC in 2011 before his 2016 re-election, have in the past two weeks been at each other’s throat, although last week Sunday Mofomobe took a more measured stance towards Molapo “for all the unpalatable things I said about him”.
The jousting started a fortnight ago when during the unveiling of his national executive committee election manifesto Molapo took a swipe at Mofomobe, accusing him of being too ambitious for contesting for a post for which he lacked the capacity to handle.
Molapo added Mofomobe was too immature to lead a party as big as the BNP.
Molapo fired the first salvo alleging Mofomobe was not faithful to his promises, noting that there was a time when the BNP’s Thetsane constituency pleaded with him to contest national assembly elections and that he agreed “only to abandon them at the last minute”.
“Machesetsa could not stick to the promise he made to the Thetsane constituency and abandoned them knowing full well that they had no other options,” Molapo said.
According to Molapo, because of his immaturity and failure to commit to anything, Mofomobe was not ready to assume the role of party leader noting “the role of BNP deputy leader needs a seasoned politician”.
“My opponent Machesetsa Mofomobe is not ready and fit enough to be a deputy leader of the BNP and his actions over the years say it all,” Molapo said.
Molapo said Mofomobe was incapable of growing the BNP and that wherever he was given the opportunity to lead “things always crumble” and that “he has more important things to do”, further telling BNP supporters that when his opponent was supposed to be busy executing his office’s mandate he, instead, chose to be a regular guest on a private radio station’s talkshows.
Mofomobe is a regular guest on Ts’enolo FM from 7a.m to 8a.m. about two to three times a week, where he unpacks current affairs.
In retaliation, Mofomobe criticised Molapo for not being familiar with political struggles and mocked him for not participating in the 1998 political riots where BNP members, along with those from other parties who had contested the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) victory in that year’s polls, camped at the gates of the Royal Palace for months.
“In 1998 when we were at Palace struggling, Mr Joang Molapo was not with us, he was hiding under the bed and that shows that he cannot fight for himself,” Mofomobe said.
Mofomobe parried the accusation that he betrayed the Thetsane constituency: “I could not represent the Thetsane constituency because they wanted somebody else to represent them, not the other way round”.
Mofomobe also became personal, attacking Molapo for being undeserving to be the BNP deputy leader because he was an infidel who took official trips outside Lesotho “with his girlfriend and not his wife”.
Independent political analyst Arthur Majara said to understand the current situation in the BNP, one needs to look into the life of the party and relationships forged by its founders Chief Leabua Jonathan and Chief Sekhonyana ’Maseribane, who were both fond of Thabane.
According to Majara, the current BNP leader ’Maseribane shared a personal and historical relationship with Thabane which is why the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the BNP “tend to gravitate towards each other”.
“Then bring into the mix Mofomobe who is the nephew to ’Maseribane. This is a network of people who share a history and their relationship will no doubt impact on the politics. You will recall that Thabane also worked for Jonathan’s government in different capacities,” Majara says.
“That is why even in 2006 when Thabane broke away from the LCD and formed ABC, the majority of BNP members who had become disgruntled with the leadership of Major-General Metsing Lekhanya flooded ABC. It was because of those relations, hence ABC and BNP have been partners in a coalition government twice, now and in 2012.”
He adds: “The reason why BNP members fatigued by Lekhanya’s leadership opted to join ABC, was simply because they trusted him as he had worked in the BNP government, so he was the better devil compared to Lekhanya.”
This dynamic alone, Majara notes, affects Molapo adversely because “seemingly he is not a favourite of either Thabane or ’Maseribane”.
“Molapo is the black sheep of the BNP family because his family history has that blemish of a relationship with congress parties, coupled with the fact that unlike Mofomobe who has ties with ABC and the founding members of the BNP, Molapo’s family joined BNP by virtue of being chiefs,” Majara says.
“Let’s look at it this way. Mofomobe has been deputy minister at the Ministry of Home Affairs since this government was formed in 2017. But Molapo has on the other hand been moved three times now. He was shuffled as minister of communications because they didn’t want to run the risk of him using his position to build himself politically.
“He was then moved to the Ministry of Public Service but also didn’t last because the nature of that ministry is that it is strategic in terms of placement in the civil service. There must have been fears that he would appoint certain people to strategic positions, thus creating two centres of power in the BNP. They therefore had to move him again to the ministry of tourism, just to clip his wings with ’Maseribane’s blessing.”
Because the BNP is by its very nature a militant party whose followers were overly radical, Majara adds, the party’s DNA is deeply entrenched in Mofomobe while Molapo is more diplomatic, hence his stance to reconcile BNP and congress parties, giving his opponent the advantage of winning the post of deputy leader.
“Machesetsa is a true reflection of what the BNP is as a party, he is radical and popular because its DNA is deeply entrenched in him. Molapo, on the other hand, is not the type that can survive in there. Molapo is therefore the black sheep of the family who on his own cannot do much in terms penetrating the support base of the BNP,” Majara says.
“I’m afraid that Thabane’s strong influence on ’Maseribane and politics of the BNP, coupled with his affection for Machesetsa, means that Joang is destined for the BNP dustbin.”
Another local analyst who sought anonymity for professional reasons, on the other hand described the pair as “weak and certainly not the material to lead BNP”.
This analyst who works for a local think-tank, submits that he is not shocked that Molapo and Mofomobe publicly undressed each other because “they are the most scandalous members of the BNP and at government level”.
According to this analyst, the BNP does not have candidates to reinvent the party to the level it can confidently and effectively address challenges that Lesotho is beset with, such as the ever-weakening economy “because they don’t understand the dynamics at all”.
“BNP does not have candidates. It needs new people. And it is going to be very difficult for the party to reinvent itself. Political parties such as LCD and BNP that were in government but collapsed, always struggle to regroup and retain their former strength,” the analyst says.
The analyst adds that the two candidates currently being flaunted as hopefuls for the post of deputy leader, could not do much more than they had already done for the BNP, having been in the NEC for a couple of years with the party’s growth stagnating.
“Machesetsa and Joang have reached their saturation point. They have done what they could, it’s time for them to bow out. They have got nothing new to offer. They both don’t have ideas and a clear agenda on how to take their party and Lesotho forward. They don’t understand the economic dynamics and don’t have a turnaround strategy, they don’t even know where to start,” the analyst claims.
“The party needs someone who is dignified, commands respect and demonstrates the potential to lead, which they are both wanting in. That’s why they have the energy to undress each other in public in such an undignified manner.”
He adds that it is unfortunate that Mofomobe is contesting for the BNP deputy leader post when his popularity “has ebbed” and that “he was more popular when he was not in government but has become one of the most discredited cabinet ministers around”.
“Unfortunately, he competes for the post at the time when he is least popular. But they are both hopeless. They have both been discredited because they have become more popular for their questionable behaviour and conduct,” he concludes.
“Unfortunately, they are both the most prominent candidates thus far. If only there were more candidates. The crop of leaders Lesotho now has, the country doesn’t deserve.”