MASERU – Aspiring Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader Machesetsa Mofomobe, who last week exchanged public slurs with deputy leader Chief Joang Molapo, has extended an olive branch to his rival to de-escalate mounting tension ahead of an internal party leadership contest.
Launching his manifesto ahead of the yet-to-be-organised BNP elective conference, Mofomobe apologised to Molapo for “all the bad things I said about you”, referring to last week’s front page story in Public Eye titled “Molapo, Mofomobe undress each other”.
Molapo this week refused to comment though he robustly defended himself last week as he fended off accusations he was cosying up to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and had been shunned by party leader Thesele ’Maseribane.
Mofomobe alleged that Molapo was “an infidel who travelled on official business with his girlfriend leaving his wife behind” while Molapo retorted that Mofomobe who is deputy Home Affairs minister, bullies workers.
Molapo also said the BNP deputy leader post was too lofty for Mofomobe as he was “too immature to lead”.
Mofomobe beseeched his audience to “please allow me to express my apology”.
“You must have seen last week’s issue of Public Eye newspaper, whose headline said I and Chief Joang were undressing each other. Please allow me the opportunity to apologise for all the bad things I said about Chief Joang. When the reporter of the newspaper told me what Joang had said about me, seeking my response, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I never should have responded that way,” Mofomobe said to loud cheers and ululation.
“As people we know each other’s secrets. I was overtaken by emotion and ended up blurting out those deep, dark secrets.”
To Molapo, he said: “Please forgive me son of Molapo, where I have wronged you. And to all of you BNP members from all the constituencies gathered here today, bear with me for my unpalatable conduct in that regard.”
When Public Eye contacted Mofomobe on Tuesday this week, he reiterated his apology but added that he did not have to apologise directly adding “I also expect him to do the same”.
“I did respond to all that Joang said about me but quickly realised that some of the things I said were in bad taste. I withdrew them all. I don’t need to go to Joang to apologise face-to-face.”
“I have already apologised, and I hope to God that he (Joang) will also apologise to me.”
The BNP elective conference that was supposed to have been held from last week Friday to Sunday has been postponed indefinitely to make way for the Women’s League Elective Conference and conclusion of the 2018 Thaba-Tseka conference. However, campaigning continues.
The jousting started almost a fortnight ago when Molapo, who is seeking to retain the deputy leader’s post, took a swipe at Mofomobe.
Last weekend Mofomobe pushed back saying: “To chief Joang’s team, we are not fighting here. We are only competing for elections as directed by the BNP constitution. If we could all accept that, then we would have thwarted our enemies’ plans.”
Mofomobe also seemed to support Molapo who, in an exclusive one-on-one interview published in last week’s issue, told this paper that the BNP needed a two-punch strategy, in that when the party leader toured the northern parts of the country, instead of his deputy leader accompanying him, the latter should tour the southern regions.
Mofomobe added that the current pallid state of the BNP, was owing to the deputy leader’s practice of “following the leader wherever he goes”.
“One of the things that have killed this party was the practice of the deputy leader following the leader wherever he goes.
“I want to come up with a new strategy, an idea which I will sell to the BNP leader and his committee. It is simply that if the leader goes to Leribe (north), the deputy should go to the south,” Mofomobe said.
“We don’t need to accompany each other wherever we go. This party needs to be revived, rebuilt. I am not copying anyone. But if you copy good things from your enemies, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
“Oliver Tambo, who was a good friend of Chief Leabua, used to tell him that if one’s enemy said something positive and worthwhile, one should copy it regardless of who it came from.
“The DC used that strategy of the leader and deputy addressing different rallies at different places at the same time. So I am telling my leader that when he goes in one direction, I will go in the other. With the blessing of the NEC of course.”
Mofomobe also submitted that also contributing to the BNP’s state was the lack of resources and functional village and regional committees (likomiti tsa metse le tsa litikoloho), which he said were “very critical for the life of the BNP”.
“We also need vehicles. I am yet to establish why not even 10 of the BNP constituencies have vehicles. I am yet to be given a reason why BNP in the Leribe district does not have its own vehicle? Or Berea? Why not all constituencies? I can assure that it will happen,” Mofomobe promised.
“How do you expect BNP to be successful when resources are not provided? Some of us are forced to use our own families’ resources. We need to sacrifice for this party.”
Mofomobe again alluded to the importance of a united BNP, undertaking that he would accept the outcome of the elective conference “when we all get to the finishing line”.
“Secondly, I undertake, should by some miracle Joang Molapo emerge victorious over me, then I will invite you all to this place after the elections to urge and convince you to support those who have won,” Mofomobe said with a hint of sarcasm in his tone.
“The time has come for BNP to make changes. The time has come for Molapo to make for Mofomobe’s son so that we can see what he can do.
“BNP is a democratic party, hence when there are elections. We peacefully hand over the baton to those who have won. We concede defeat so that those who have won can take the party forward.”
Molapo also unveiled his election manifesto, pleading with BNP supporters to re-elect him as deputy leader saying “give me the broom with which to sweep in the BNP”.
According to Molapo, if given that broom, he would sweep the party clean and give it a make-over “from top to bottom”.
“The BNP needs transformation. We need to strengthen it from the bottom so that he could deliver services on time. As deputy leader, I will devote myself to rebuilding the party and ensuring that we are accountable to you, the owners of this party,” Molapo said.
Moreover, he promised to build a vibrant party that unites the Basotho nation and makes it a home for every Mosotho regardless of origins and beliefs. Apart from that, he said, he will bring faithfulness and dignity when working for the party.
“Let’s unite and build our party from scratch,” said Molapo, promising that by 2022 they would have built a new BNP.
Besides that, when it’s his time to step down, he would do so though he doubted his opponent was ready to shoulder the responsibilities of the deputy leader.
He promised to rekindle the love of the voters. He also said he will also use the three years 2019 to 2022 to renew the relationship of BNP and the people.
At his manifesto launch, Mofomobe, careful not to dwell on Molapo’s personal issues, criticised him for his unbecoming conduct and what he implied was excessive affection for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
According to Mofomobe, Molapo who by virtue of his birthright, is the chief of the Ha ’Mathata region in Maputsoe in the Leribe district, was always quick to “resume” his chieftaincy duties whenever the LCD had rallies in Maputsoe.
This was despite his (Molapo’s) uncle having been appointed his permanent proxy due to his political career and ministerial duties as he is the current Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
“But when there is no LCD rally, his uncle remains the chief. But the minute LCD holds a rally, Joang does not delegate but goes there himself. (Lee lerato ke le joang)? What kind of love is this?”
Mofomobe further lamented that Molapo had expressed disappointment in him for calling former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili “legion” for writing a letter to the South African government in 2018, seeking to block the unveiling of the monument of the late BNP founder and former Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan in that country.
In Biblical terms, a legion is a group of demons, particularly those in two of three versions of the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac.
According to Mofomobe, Mosisili who recently retired as leader of the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), must have been possessed by a group of demons when penning that letter.
“Joang has a problem with me for calling Mosisili legion (one possessed by multiple demons). I am saying that because I was the one working with a team assigned to me by the BNP NEC, towards facilitating for the unveiling of the Leabua Jonathan monument.
“In the process of preparing for the event, Pakalitha Mosisili wrote the most unfortunate letter, seeking to thwart the unveiling of that statue,” Mofomobe said.
“What an unfortunate letter that was. The letter alleged that Chief Leabua Jonathan had killed many Basotho who were members of the congress movement in cold blood during his tenure as prime minister.
“That was a blatant lie. Leabua never killed anyone in Lesotho. Congress members ran amok turning against each other, like a wild rat which when angry, devours itself. They were not killed by Chief Leabua.”
Mofomobe added: “I, Machesetsa Mofomobe speaking in line with what is written in the scriptures, declare here that when Mr Mosisili was writing that letter, he must have been possessed by the spirit of legion.
“I’d have expected that the BNP deputy leader and I would take this bull called Mosisili by the horns, to tell him to get of Leabua’s case. But that’s not the case because my deputy leader defends neither me nor Leabua.”
Mofomobe also berated Molapo for allegedly urging BNP supporters to support him as a candidate from Leribe which is in the north, against candidates from the southern parts of Lesotho, those being his own Sebapala constituency, ’Maseribane’s Mt Moorosi, as well as current deputy chairperson Dr Nthabiseng Makoae’s Qacha’s Nek constituency, submitting that there was only once agenda in the BNP that “that agenda is the BNP’s and nothing else”.
“There’s no Leribe agenda here and there’s definitely no southern agenda. From north, west, south to east, the BNP’s agenda is the same, as stipulated by the constitution. BNP deputy leader, please do not divide this party.”
Mofomobe also briefly touched on the importance of BNP supporters protecting party leader Thesele ’Maseribane who is also his uncle, saying it was only prudent that “he is valued” and that they would have done so by giving ’Maseribane “a deputy leader who will care for and assist him”.
“That position is mine, give it to me!” Mofomobe called out to roars of applause.
In the Public Eye interview last week, Molapo denied he was warming up to the LCD.
“That is not true. I am not looking for any special relationship between the BNP and LCD. I have more of an interest in what the BNP should be: a unifier, a reconciler, a healer, a developer.
“This is what the party should be. And if you are those things, then you are compelled to behave in a particular way.
“If the BNP preserves strong and ethical relationships at all times, it can play a bigger role in decision-making within the government that we are a part of, no matter how small the party is.
“Our voice will be heard because we are people who stand by and uphold the truth. When we extend help to our friends who are experiencing problems, it will be acceptable because we are already exercising tolerance, as unifiers and healers.
“But if all you create opportunistic relationships to cash-in on opportunities when they present themselves, people will eventually see through you and realise that you are an opportunist.
“So, I genuinely believe in the policies of the BNP and if we still swore by them, the development that Lesotho had back in the day would not be so elusive.
“We need BNP to live by them all the time, not when it’s convenient for certain people. BNP founder Chief Leabua worked with members of the BCP in his government such as Ntate Ramoreboli and Ntate Mofeli. That’s because members of Congress parties are not our enemies but are our opponents,” he said.