‘A fierce defender of the BNP’

‘A fierce defender of the BNP’

Staff Reporter

MASERU

DR Majara Molapo, who died last Thursday after a long battle with cancer, fought tirelessly to defend the Basotho National Party (BNP) against its bitter critics.

The BNP under the late Chief Leabua Jonathan won Lesotho’s first democratic elections in 1965. The party however refused to relinquish power after it lost the general election in 1970.

Critics say the BNP then unleashed a brutal offensive against its critics particularly within the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) led by Ntsu Mokhehle until it was toppled in a military coup in 1986.

With the BNP having its back against the wall, Molapo was among a small core of academics who stood up and defended the party to the hilt.

Even after it was ousted from power, Molapo continued to be among the few voices that eloquently defended the BNP’s alleged excesses.

The party’s spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe, says he always knew Molapo as a man who stood for the truth in attempting to polish the party’s tainted image.

Molapo, a former BNP secretary general and spokesperson, vehemently denied that the BNP persecuted BCP cadres in the 1970’s.

He challenged the narrative peddled by academics and historians like Makalo Khaketla that the BNP committed atrocities against civilians and BCP party supporters. He argued such false narratives had distorted history and tainted the BNP’s image.

Molapo often challenged testimonies by BCP members who claimed they had been tortured and forced into exile by the BNP government.

He argued the government was not persecuting BCP members but was merely acting against crimes and arresting people who happened to be BCP members.

He cited the case of BCP youths who attempted to burn down the Mofumahali of Tlholo Cathedral and when they were arrested claimed the government was persecuting BCP youths.

Molapo is also known for challenging the congress-led government to investigate the allegations that soldiers had buried BCP members alive in Mapoteng in 1974.

He also challenged the government to identify the mass graves if it was true that that incident happened.

When a pro-congress movement journalist Ratabane Ramainoane made an appeal to the government to build a monument in remembrance of the BCP members who were allegedly buried alive, Molapo called Ramainoane’s MoAfrika radio station saying he would tear down that monument.

He said Ramainoane’s call was based on distorted facts.

Mofomobe says he will always remember how Molapo clung to the party “during difficult times when others defected”.

“Many times he used to clash with the party leadership but he never left the party like what others did,” Mofomobe said.

“He stood with the party when others broke away to form the National Independent Party, also when the party stalwart Chief Peete Peete defected to form the National Progressive Party,” he said.

“This was despite that he shared the same feelings with Chief Peete Peete about the then party leadership. He loved this party,” he said.

Mofomobe also recalled when Molapo defended the party at the Leon Commission after the 1998 political chaos that left Maseru, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek in ashes.

The BNP was blamed for leading the political strife because it was not satisfied with the election result that gave the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) all constituencies and made it a one-party government.

He says Molapo taught him diplomacy.

“I learnt a lot from him when I was elected to speak on behalf of the party. He took me aside and gave me advice on how I should speak publicly and how I should handle press interviews,” he said.

Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane said he remembers Molapo as someone who was friendly even to the BCP members who opposed him when he was at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

“During those years, youths from both BNP and BCP were known for being in constant conflict with each other but Mr Molapo was always friendly with the BCP youth,” Rakuoane said.

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