MASERU — Speaking truth to power.
This has been Sephiri Motanyane’s mission during an illustrious political career spanning nearly five decades.
Motanyane, 74, whose political career began in the early 1960’s as a youth cadre of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), has been a towering figure in Lesotho’s politics.
For over 40 years he represented his Malibamats’o constituency in parliament, until he retired from politics in 2009.
On Friday, Motanyane, who is National Assembly deputy speaker, launched a blistering attack on the Democratic Congress (DC) government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
He says the DC government that was formed by Mosisili on February 28 is unconstitutional.
Motanyane also says the constitution was violated and procedures were flouted when Mosisili dumped the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) to form the new government.
This is the first time that a senior officer has spoken out against what happened in parliament on February 28 and 29 that saw the DC taking over the government in what has been seen as a palace coup.
The comments could also raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the DC government after it ousted the LCD from power last month.
Motanyane says he will not tire from speaking out against the DC government so that history will not judge him harshly.
“I believe that even if I have retired (from politics), the truth must come out about what happened in the LCD (Lesotho Congress for Democracy) party.
“I will do whatever it takes to ensure that it happens, without fear or favour to anyone,” Motanyane says.
He believes he was “deliberately isolated from Mosisili” and blocked from having the chance to advise the Prime Minister by individuals who were close to him.
“Yes, I was very close to him (Mosisili), almost like a confidante. But those close to him did all they could to shield him from me,” Motanyane says.
“An elaborate plan was hatched to discredit me and isolate me from him (Mosisili).”
He says the split broke his heart.
“Yes, I am heartbroken. I nearly exploded, nearly torn into pieces when I heard of the imminent split of the LCD and the formation of the DC,” Motanyane says.
He adds that the split could “have been avoided because in all frankness, the issues at the centre of the discord were not based on principle. They were petty issues that could have been dealt with to save the LCD”.
Asked how the DC will perform in the May 29 election, Motanyane had a curt response.
“Dismally,” he says.
“I don’t think Basotho will follow the DC if they know the truth about its formation.
“Even if you see a sea of red at its rallies, it will be just people curious to hear what Mosisili has to say. It will be people who will be there just to be seen. They will all have their say in the ballot box,” he says.
He says the LCD will deliver a stellar performance at the polls if they articulate the party’s vision and ideologies.
“The LCD will perform well provided we have credible people who will present issues to the masses in a proper and respectful manner.
“But we should also realise that this is a major split compared to the ones we’ve had before. I hope we’re left with articulate people to carry the party forward,” he says.
Motanyane however adds that it is not just the LCD that has taken a huge dent because of the split. Even Mosisili has been seriously affected, he adds.
“The split has already had a negative impact on Mosisili because it was not based on principle, which he also admits.
“It’s going to harm his credibility and his election campaign rallies will not impact positively on the masses because they already doubt him,” he says.
Motanyane says the caliber of people who defected with Mosisili “don’t possess the charisma and mass appeal to win elections”.