MASERU — The Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) has merged with the Youth Transformation Alliance (YTA), a small party formed and registered in May this year.
As part of the merger deal sealed last Wednesday YTA leader Tlali Tlali will understudy MFP leader Moeketse Malebo.
The plan is that Tlali, 35, will eventually take over the MFP leadership when Malebo retires.
Malebo is yet to announce when he intends to retire from active politics but his decision to groom Tlali is seen as an indication that he is already preparing for his exit.
Tlali has agreed to disband his YTA and bring his followers to the MFP.
The YTA, which claims membership in all major towns in Lesotho and is youth-oriented, has since closed its offices at Carlton Centre and moved its operations to the MFP headquarters at Sentra Building.
Malebo, 85, told a press conference on Tuesday that he will focus on grooming Tlali to become the next MFP leader.
“Mr Tlali will take part in the running of the MFP because he is a leader and we respect his leadership from the party he led, which has today merged with the MFP,” he said.
“I believe in the power of the youth and there are many things I will learn from them although I am much older and more experienced than them,” he said.
The YTA leaders, the octogenarian said, will participate in the MFP executive meetings to “learn party leadership skills”.
Tlali said the YTA identified the MFP as a party of “integrity” hence their decision to form an alliance ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections.
“One of the reasons, perhaps the most important one, why the YTA felt the need to approach the MFP with the idea of forming a merger was the iconic status of the MFP in Lesotho’s political history,” Tlali said.
“It is our firmly held view that partly based on the history of the MFP, and partly based on the impeccable character of its out-going leader, Ntate Moeketse Vincent Malebo, our two parties stand to gain invaluable political party capital from being together as opposed to being apart,” he said.
Tlali said Malebo’s presence in parliament for over four decades “has enriched our political life in ways that few of his generation can match.”
“His imminent departure from our political life should not be seen as a loss to our ongoing strives for political development but rather as another important chapter in his life,” Tlali said.
“As the current leadership of the MFP gracefully bows out to make way for new blood, it is with humility rather than arrogance that we in the YTA make a solemn declaration that we will strive for the ideas that the MFP has stood for in the
past 45 years,” he said.
Tlali said with this merger the MFP is not dying or fading into political oblivion but it is “entering into perhaps one of the most fascinating periods of its political life.”
The MFP was the third party to be established during the colonial era, after the Basutoland Congress Party and the Basutoland National Party.
It has been participating in national elections since the first democratic polls in 1965 when it got two seats in parliament.
It also won some seats in 1970 but the then Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and refused to step down.
When the Jonathan regime bowed to international pressure and formed an interim parliament in 1973, the MFP was represented by Malebo.
It was only in the 1993 and 1998 parliaments that the party was not represented because the BCP scooped almost all seats under the First Past the Post electoral model.
In 1998 the MFP did not win any parliamentary seat.
The YTA said it will participate as part of the MFP during this year’s local government elections on October 1.