This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

The ABC and DC had become too arrogant: Chief Theko

THABA Bosiu Principal Chief, Khoabane Theko, has never been one to shy away from expressing his political views, often ruffling the feathers of politicians along the way. He made headlines in the days leading up to the 7 October 2022 general elections when he addressed people in Rothe and urged them not to vote for the then governing All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Democratic Congress (DC) parties.  He claimed the two parties had “betrayed” the nation by failing to pass the reforms bill in parliament.   In the wake of the two parties’ crushing electoral defeat to the Sam Matekane-led Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), the Lesotho Times (LT)’s Political Editor, ’Marafaele Mohloboli, this week sat down with Chief Theko to discuss his views on the outcome of the polls and other issues.


LT: You seem to be keenly interested in the political affairs of the country. Please briefly tell us about yourself to shed more light on your outlook to life.

Chief Theko: I was born on 9 August 1969 at Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Maseru. I grew up herding the family livestock like any other Mosotho boy of my age. I attended Thaba-Bosiu Primary School and then Iketsetseng Private School. I later went to Maoana-masooana Primary in Leribe to stay in line with my religion as an Anglican. In 1974 I attended Christ the King High School in Roma and while there, I became very passionate about politics.

In my early days at Christ the King High School in the 70’s, I kept the company of some youths with political knowledge from South Africa. They introduced me to African National Congress (ANC) and Pan African Congress (PAC) politics, which I fell in love with.

I became so addicted that when I was doing my Junior Certificate, I was told that I would not be welcome the following year. I therefore had to find myself another school as I had become a pain in the neck for the authorities with my politicking.

Although Lesotho attained independence way ahead of South Africa, we are still behind in many aspects like public outreach programmes where people are allowed to air their grievances.

After school I worked in the Basotho National Party (BNP)’s founding leader and (former Prime Minister), Chief Leabua Jonathan’s private office. We are related by birth. He later sent me to England where I learnt more about politics, especially the Westminster model which really stole my heart. This is where I also studied Public Administration and Business.

LT: During the recent election campaign period you criticised the track record of the outgoing government.  Your critics have even accused you of hiding under the cover of the chieftaincy to meddle in politics. They say you are anti-congress. What is your response to these allegations?

Chief Theko: I do not hate the Congress movement and I’m not a politician. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have views on political issues that affect me and my people. As chiefs, we are at liberty to say whatever we need to say as long as it is in the interests of the nation. As chiefs we are at liberty to speak up and advise accordingly whenever we deem fit. There are no boundaries set in the Chieftainship Act or in the constitution as to what issues we cannot touch on. So it is quite unfair for some people to think that they can just silence us when we say hurtful truths.

I don’t have the time to hate; hatred is too heavy to carry around. Even if I were to be put to any test on that, I would come out clean. I am a chief of everyone irrespective of their political colours and inclinations. Nothing pains me like people thinking that there is anyone that I hate, whereas it is not true. I only speak the truth and some people might not be comfortable with. That’s all. I don’t hate the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) or the Democratic Congress (DC).

LT: A few days before the 7 October elections, you and other chiefs addressed a public gathering in Rothe where you urged people not to vote for the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the DC. What exactly did you want to achieve?

Chief Theko: Legislators from the (then) governing parties decided to scrap some clauses of the Omnibus Bill that would have facilitated the implementation of the reforms. This was despite that we had agreed on those clauses. So, when they summersaulted at the eleventh hour, we told them that they had betrayed us and the people. We told them we would make sure that they get what was coming their way. The only way of countering their actions was to encourage people to dump them and vote for politicians who would respect them.

The MPs were ignoring the very people who had put them in power by not capturing their views during the reforms process. We then decided to go on a mission to de-campaign them and sensitise people of what had really transpired leading to the failure to pass the Bill. We achieved our mission because most people decided not to vote for the ABC and DC.

LT: You were at one point considered to be a staunch ABC member. It was later said you jumped ship to the Basotho Action Party (BAP) and you wanted the party to be part of the incoming governing coalition which is led by the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP). What is your response to this?

Chief Theko: It is not a sin to be a member of any political party. I go for any party that listens to the wishes of the people. Politics does not know any clan or tribe. I’m not a member of the BAP but the truth is it has very clear policies which I thought would complement the incoming government if it would be included in it.

The ABC and DC had their chance to govern but they blew it up by acting high and mighty. They had become too arrogant, hence I didn’t see why they should be returned to power again while there were new parties that deserved a chance.

LT: You have accused outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu of undermining the National Reforms process. What was your basis for this allegation?

Chief Theko: I was only being honest. He never had time for the reforms process. He spent most of his time outside parliament campaigning for his party ahead of the elections. This was despite that at one time he had called the chiefs to a breakfast meeting and pleaded with us to help the government to make the reforms process a success. He wasn’t fully committed to the process.

He wanted everyone else to take the process seriously while he busied himself with growing his party. He never took the reforms seriously. At one point, he even accused chiefs of wanting to clip the powers of the prime minister. He thought we were out to degrade the prime minister’s post as he had already pictured himself in that position.

LT: What are the things that you wanted to see in the Omnibus Bill?

Chief Theko: For instance, we wanted to see all senior posts in government like the deployment of ambassadors and principal secretaries done openly as is the case with the judicial appointments.

We also wanted to see clauses to guarantee the independence of the media as well as the regulation of cyberspace because there are people who slander others using fake social media accounts. We also wanted to see some of the Prime Minister’s powers clipped. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

LT: You have also accused outgoing Law and Justice Minister, Lekhetho Rakuoane, of  not taking the reforms process seriously and letting MPs do as they please. Would you elaborate on this?

Chief Theko: This is the man who was entrusted with overseeing the whole process and advising the government accordingly. But he chose to watch on when MPs deliberately derailed the process.

The MPs deliberately misdirected themselves as they were eyeing benefits which they were likely to get after the elections. All we were trying to do as the Senate was to help fix issues that affect the running of government. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to because the MPs discarded everything we said and did their own thing.

Advocate Rakuoane allowed the MPs to betray the voice of the people in the reforms process and we are not happy with what happened. Their behaviour showed that they were not prepared to accept change. They wanted things to continue as they were, with the prime minister retaining all his powers. His Majesty, King Letsie III was keen to see the Omnibus Bill being passed but we were betrayed by the politicians.

It seems that MPs take chiefs for a ride and they don’t want anything coming from us; hence they took none of the amendments that we had made. They instead scrapped all of them and replaced them with what they liked for their own self-indulgence.

LT: You have in the past accused of meddling in army issues. What is your response to that?

Chief Theko: Like I said there are no limits as to what chiefs should or should not touch. This is inclusive of the army.  Our army has always been part of serious politics for the longest time, since the ruling of Dr Leabua Jonathan, who was toppled by the army.

Major General Metsing Lekhanya was also ousted by the army.

In 1994 there was a palace coup, which was also supported by the army. We have always encountered problems with the army, so there is no way I can be expected not to say anything about the army.

This is one of the reasons why we wanted to reform the army by proposing that His Majesty be the Commander in Chief of the Lesotho Defence Force. We only wanted the army to be removed from politics.

LT: Is there any bad blood between you and the politicians that you have mentioned? How is your relationship with various political parties, including the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP)?

Chief Theko: I have nothing against any politician. I have nothing against any party. Even the de-campaigning we did should not be perceived as hatred for ABC or DC. It’s just that they had totally forgotten about the people who had placed them in power and they seemed too sure that they were going to win the elections.

I have no reason to hate anyone. I even keep Congress friends whom I always have deliberations and differences with. They know that I just speak my mind and that doesn’t mean that we are enemies. People should know how to draw a line between hatred and constructive criticism.

I have no special relationship with RFP leader, Sam Matekane or his party. However, it is no secret that His Majesty, who happens to be my brother, has a special bond with Mr Matekane. They have come a long way but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of the politics really.

LT: What can you say about the poor performance at the polls by ABC and DC after you publicly de-campaigned them?

Chief Theko: That is a lesson for all politicians who don’t take the electorate seriously. The people have spoken through their vote and they should be respected. The results of the elections clearly display the people’s anger against these two parties. The people have expressed their feelings and made a protest vote.

LT: What advice would you give to the incoming Prime Minister, Sam Matekane?

Chief Theko: He should be very vigilant. He should be careful about the type of friends he surrounds himself with. He should always take the people’s complaints to heart and ask for God’s guidance, lest he is derailed.