Booing Metsing is not the way to go

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IF the riotous scenes that we saw at Moshoeshoe I International Airport on Tuesday are anything to go by, then Mothetjoa Metsing’s days as the party’s secretary general are numbered.

The writing is certainly on the wall for the affable communications minister. He appears cornered.

This editorial is no elegy for Metsing. We hold no brief from the minister.

But we think what happened at the airport demands that we speak up against “rented crowds” that appear to peddle a “gospel” that could drag this country onto a dangerous and unpredictable path.

The open insults that were directed at Metsing were totally uncalled for.

Of course we knew the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party was going through turbulent times.

But we never expected that things had deteriorated to these depths of depravity.

We find it totally unacceptable that party youths could be allowed to gather at the airport for the specific purpose of insulting and embarrassing a government minister.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who was returning from the UN in New York, appears to have blown a golden opportunity to tell the youths to behave.

He must have chastised the youths and told them to conduct themselves in line with the party’s history of respect for the rights and dignity of the individual.

For the party to allow certain elements within the youth league to lambast and openly insult its secretary general goes against everything that the party stands for.

Metsing’s greatest sin in the eyes of the youths is that he gave a candid assessment of what ails this country to the Americans behind the Prime Minister’s back.

They want him to resign because he allegedly holds views that are said to be at cross purposes with those of the party.

Metsing has however not been hauled before the party’s disciplinary committee to answer any charges.

We believe he is entitled to a fair hearing if at all he is seen to have flouted any party rules. But this is yet to happen.

Sadly, however, the youths appear to have already tried the minister and found him guilty in the court of public opinion.

He has not been offered an opportunity to defend himself.

We find this quite disturbing.

What the LCD youths are pushing for goes against the fundamental rules of natural justice that the party claims to stand for. Free speech is a fundamental tenet of a democratic society.

It is our humble submission that the LCD must find a way of dealing with the issues Metsing allegedly raised in the US cables without necessarily stifling voices of dissent.

The party must accept that we cannot all think alike otherwise we would be reduced to political zombies.

The youths would thus do the party’s reputation a lot of good if they resist the temptation to convene “kangaroo courts” where they try and convict so-called “party renegades” in absentia.

It would be in order were Mosisili to quickly disown the mob that descended at Moshoeshoe 1 airport this week.

He must not appear to be condoning what happened in the interests of consolidating his grip on power within the faction-ridden party.

Mosisili must lay down a marker and tell the youths to behave.

By taking the fight onto the airport tarmac the party is washing its dirty linen in public. It is also a clear indication that the leadership has failed to rein in the factional fight.

The leadership has lost control of the party. This also suggests that the internal mechanisms set up to deal with any disputes have failed.

Unless Mosisili rises above the din of squabbles and demonstrates true leadership the party could be headed for stormy waters. That would be sad.

Lesotho has enjoyed relative peace and stability, thanks to Mosisili’s leadership over the past 13 years. He must not squander his legacy by failing to deal with the current leadership squabbles.

Leadership renewal, as we have argued on this page before, is a key tenet of all successful organisations.

Mosisili must tell his party youths that he has no intention of hanging on to power.

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