BNP downplays leadership division
Published on August 26, 2014 · No Comments
MASERU – Basotho National Party leader (BNP) deputy leader Chief Joang Molapo has scoffed at suggestions that public attacks on his signature of the Windhoek Declaration by executive committee colleagues were a symptom of fractured party leadership.
On July 30, Molapo represented party leader Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane on the coalition government’s trip to Windhoek to meet with the Namibian President and then chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who was mediating in political problems within Lesotho’s coalition government.
Coalition parties’ leaders of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), feuding over non-consultation by the Prime Minister and ABC leader Motsoahae Thabane, made concessions that would guide the way forward; and Chief Molapo signed what became known as the Windhoek Declaration, as guarantor, on July 31.
The signature by the BNP deputy leader gave rise to public spats from party quarters, with charges that the deputy leader acted outside party policy and mandate in appending his signature to the Windhoek Declaration. He was painted a traitor, and suspected bad blood between party heavyweights was confirmed with attacks coming from his own executive committee.
Chief Molapo was accused of harbouring interests opposed to those of the party executive committee and the BNP, with suggestions he was contemplating defecting to the LCD.
“There is no disunity between BNP leaders, and with the cadres, there is a vibrant democracy within the BNP and the leaders and membership have strong views on the party.
“I would be very sad and disappointed if the BNP members did not engage us strongly. I would be very disappointed if they did not interrogate us and set high standards for us, this debate you hear is a sign of a living, breathing party,” the BNP deputy leader told Public Eye in an interview following the incident.
He said: “What I know is that I continue to have an excellent, professional, political and personal relationship with the leader and the majority of the executive committee. I know myself to be under the collective guidance of the same National Executive Committee (NEC).
“I know that this is reciprocated by them supporting me during this time when I am acting for the leader. Those individuals who spoke out against the Windhoek Declaration are expressing a personal opinion rather than the party’s position.”
He indicated he was at a party rally in Mphosong two weeks ago “…and I was followed there, supported and cheered by BNP members from all over Lesotho. The following day those same people who were cheering me are allowed to ask me tough questions. As BNP supporters we are bound together by our love for the party.
“Individuals like the leader and me, who are at the forefront of the party, must expect to hear the true feelings of the supporters. The message is the same – ‘we support you but we expect you to do better’.”
Chief Molapo, who also heads the home affairs ministry, revealed he had taken the party National Executive Committee (NEC) to task over these apparent strong objections to the role he played in Windhoek.
“I asked the NEC the same question. We referred each other to the party policy positions and the constitution of the party. The answer was that the position taken by me in Windhoek is 100 percent consistent with the policy position of the party,” Chief Molapo said.
“In pressurised situations we handle stress and responsibility differently. Some people know how to think and contemplate before speaking. Sadly, others talk before engaging their mental faculties.”
The BNP deputy leader laughed at what he termed the ridiculousness of his supposed defection to the LCD; adding he was a third generation BNP member in his family, with roots that run deep in the party.
“My grandmother, my father’s mother was Dr Leabua Jonathan’s sister. My father’s uncles Charles Dube and Mosito Molapo were founder BNP members. My father Mooki was a BNP youth league member and later NEC member.”
Molapo continued that: “The BNP has honoured me by electing me deputy leader. I live and breathe this party. I love it and am proud of it. Both my son and daughter are in the BNP structures in Maputsoe. It is the same sort of history on my mother’s side of the family.
“I can never imagine myself wearing any other colours except the red, white, blue and greed. People who are suggesting that I could leave the BNP do not know me and are pushing their own agendas.”
“I respect the ABC because I have had a chance to work with them. I respect the LCD because I have had a chance to work with them. I respect the DC because I have seen them as a good opposition in parliament. But I am in love with BNP and expect to stay in love with it for the rest of my life. Thankfully, the depth of my love and respect for this party is known by the vast majority of its supporters. I might spend a lifetime working with people from other parties but my casket will be draped in a BNP flag.”
“In 2011, the BNP elected Thesele ‘Maseribane as the party leader. In 2011, 2012 and 2014 I was elected deputy leader. In the absence of the leader I have a mandate, reinforced three times to express a view on what I believe to be the best interests of the BNP. I also have a legitimate right to expect public support for the executive,” the BNP deputy leader emphasised.
During its several visits to Chief Molapo’s ministerial office Public Eye learned from conversations of converged party stalwarts that there was a faction within the party that has instigated a personal fight against the deputy leader, indicating the current infighting was fuelled in the main by jostling for jobs.
“These people have targeted ntate Joang because they say he had not campaigned for the party ahead of the 2012 poll as he was in Bloemfontein. They are angry that they have not been given jobs after they had worked diligently for the party yet Molapo, who did nothing, has been given a ministerial post,” an irate lady said during the conversation in the minister’s office.
These BNP stalwarts, who declared support for the deputy leader, further revealed the faction opposed to Molapo had also tried to boycott the rally the deputy leader held in Mphosong, claiming only the leader could hold such rallies as the deputy leader did not have the capacity to do so.
“But everyone in the BNP knows that in the absence of ntate ‘Maseribane, his deputy shall assume all his duties and responsibilities,” another lady added.
They pleaded with those who have declared war on Chief Molapo to appreciate that God has not given us equal wisdom, and must not be envious that he was smarter and abler than them.
“They are trying to drag ntate Molapo’s name in the mud by trying to associate him with the LCD. There is talk that he was seen at an LCD rally in Maputsoe; of course, he went there in his capacity as the area chief to welcome the LCD members in his area.
“He always does that whenever a political party goes to that area to hold a rally, he did it for the ABC, the Marema-Tlou Freedom Party and the Democratic Congress. Why are these people only talking now, was the LCD supposed to be treated differently?”
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