TRADE and Industry Minister Joshua Setipa has distanced himself from the infighting rocking the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), saying he would not be joining a splinter party led by the party’s former secretary-general, Selibe Mochoboroane.
The LCD has been rocked by internecine fights, with Mr Mochoboroane admitting he was in the process of setting up a new party following a bitter fallout with LCD leader, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and his deputy Tšeliso Mokhosi.
The infighting was referred by the party’s National Executive Committee to the Elders Committee led by former party deputy leader, Lesao Lehohla for resolution but according to party spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, Mr Mochoboroane was this week expelled from the party with immediate effect.
Speculation has been rife, especially on social media, that Mr Setipa was embroiled in the factional fights and could leave the party with Mr Mochoboroane.
However, in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Setipa distanced himself from both Mr Mochoboroane and Mr Makhetha Thaele, the alleged architects of the splinter party and also described as “arrogance” the decision to form a new party on the basis of having “a few praise singers”.
“It has actually been brought to my attention that my name has been linked to this new party in certain discussions on social media and in the Lesotho Times,” Mr Setipa said.
“I am surprised, in fact I am shocked because I don’t know what it is that I have in common with the people that are said to be pursuing this option of leaving the LCD.”
Mr Setipa said he had only interacted with the alleged rebels in their capacity as LCD party members “but in terms of saying we are going to plot and do this, I have never and am not part of that arrangement”.
“I have no plans today, tomorrow or anytime soon to leave the LCD. I do not think it is in me to do that,” Mr Setipa added.
The minister said he only interacted with Mr Mochoboroane as a colleague in cabinet and as party secretary-general and there were no other links.
He also said he only interacted with Mr Thaele as a party member and the latter’s appointment to the board of the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) was by his virtue of his being a young and industrious entrepreneur.
“We wanted the LNDC board to have young entrepreneurs because the future of this country’s economy is in the hands of the youthful entrepreneurs like him.
“My interaction with him is purely on issues that relate to his role in the LNDC board,” Mr Setipa said adding that talk that he was part of discussions to break away from the LCD were “pure fabrication”.
He said although the LCD had challenges, they would be resolved through internal party mechanisms hence there was nothing that could entice him to leave when after all he had been appointed Trade and Industry Minister under the party umbrella.
In response to claims that he had been promised the deputy leader’s position in the new party, Mr Setipa said “the fact that they think of me in those terms is humbling but unfortunately I am not going anywhere”.
“I am here to stay and I have so much to contribute to the LCD. I am going to be part of the process to ensure the LCD grows and recovers from the defeat of the last elections.
“If am going to be a deputy leader, it will be in the LCD and if I am going to be in any executive position it will be in the LCD and not any other party.”
He also denied claims that he was using his ministerial portfolio, particularly the limelight generated by his spirited defence of the country’s eligibility for trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), to raise his political profile.
Lesotho was granted eligibility for 2017 on condition it implements certain reforms intended to achieve political stability and Mr Setipa said he had only played his part in the negotiations as an appointed minister.
“It was not because I wanted to make myself famous, but because if I had not done my job it would mean that I am a failure.”
He said whatever successes he had achieved as a minister should be attributed to his principals who always pushed him to deliver.
“It would be arrogant of me to start thinking that because I have done one or two things right, I have the credentials, the energy and the wisdom to lead.
“Any leader, whose first step is based on what a few praise singers are saying is doomed. I don’t share those sentiments,” Mr Setipa said.