Drama at leaders’ forum

Drama at leaders’ forum

MASERU – TEMPERS flared at the National Leaders Forum yesterday as opposition politicians objected to Lefu Manyokole officiating at the meeting.
Manyokole who is a Principal Secretary in the Cabinet appeared to be presiding over the meeting, much to the chagrin of opposition leaders who demanded that he leave the podium.
The drama played out in the presence of SADC’s envoy to Lesotho Justice Dikgang Moseneke who has been trying to get Lesotho to get on with the reforms.

First to protest was Democratic Congress (DC)’s deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, who said Manyokole should not play any official role in the meeting.
The Qalabane MP argued that the government was trying to highjack the reforms process by parceling out important roles to civil servants.
“The reforms are not only for the government but they are for all Basotho,”

Letsosa said, adding that the government should not have assigned Manyokole the “master of ceremony” role without consulting the opposition.
“This means we are not part of the reforms and we want the MC to sit down,” Letsosa said. But Manyokole, a fiery character himself, refused to budge.
He ignored Letsosa’s protests and plodded on.
But that only infuriated the opposition.

The DC Youth League President, Moeketsi Shale, said they wanted Manyokole to sit down because he was not nominated by the opposition side to be the master of ceremony.
There were similar interjections from the Social Revolutionary (SR)’s, David Seutloali.

The Basutoland African National Congress (BANC) leader, Peo Moejane, also raised concerns.
Moejane said it seemed the government was trying to sideline them.
“This is very wrong, the reforms are for us all and not for a certain people,” he said.
The ruckus continued even when Justice Moseneke tried to explain that it did not matter who the master of ceremony was.
Tempers only thawed after Manyokole was replaced.

Justice Moseneke appeared amused by what he viewed as a fuss over a non-issue.
He appealed to Basotho to put their differences aside for the sake of the reforms.
The reforms are not only for the politicians, he said.
The European Union Ambassador to Lesotho Christian Manahl also appealed to political party leaders to look at the bigger picture instead of fighting over small things.

“In politics, at least in democratic politics, there is time for competition and there is a time for cooperation,” Dr Manahl said.
“Now is not the time for competition, now is the time for cooperation,” he said.
“Now is the time for you to sit down together and to work out reform proposals which are simple, comprehensive, effective, and implementable.”
Dr Manahl reminded politicians that “Basotho want peace and stability, they don’t want political bickering, posturing and maneuvering”.

He also reminded them that Basotho want a constitution that will enable coalition governments to complete their full terms so governments implement policies they promised during election campaigns.
“They don’t want a public service which is a reward scheme for political loyalty,” he said, adding: “They want teachers in school, not on the streets.”
“Now is the time for you to negotiate the foundations of the Lesotho you want and to start implementing them.”

Thooe Ramolibeli

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