Dag­gers drawn

As ABC, BNP fight over op­po­si­tion leader post

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

THE Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) wants party leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane ap­pointed Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in the 9th Par­lia­ment as a “re­ward” for stand­ing by the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) against the “Congress move­ment”.

Ac­cord­ing to BNP sources who spoke to the Le­sotho Times on con­di­tion of anonymity, the party is op­posed to out­go­ing Prime Min­is­ter and ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane be­ing given the lu­cra­tive po­si­tion, and had since sought sup­port from the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) — the only other party with rep­re­sen­ta­tion in par­lia­ment which is not part of the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment to be led by Demo­cratic Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

The sources gave an ex­am­ple of Dr Mo­sisili, who qual­i­fied for the role whose perks are al­most equiv­a­lent to those of a cabi­net min­is­ter, in the last par­lia­ment but made way for his deputy, Monyake Moleleki, for the sake of unity in the party.

“Tha­bane qual­i­fies to be the leader of the op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment be­cause the ABC has 46 seats, while the BNP has seven and the RCL has two, but what we are say­ing is we have stood by Dr Tha­bane in the (out­go­ing) gov­ern­ment and the battle against Congress par­ties, and need to be re­warded for it through this po­si­tion.

“By al­low­ing Chief ‘Maserib­ane to be the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, the ABC would have shown its sin­cer­ity in our al­liance, and hope­fully, there won’t be un­nec­es­sary bickering over the is­sue.

“We have spo­ken to the RCL membership seek­ing their sup­port over this is­sue, and re­main con­fi­dent that this is not go­ing to cre­ate fric­tion be­tween us and the ABC, as well as the RCL. We need to re­main united in par­lia­ment and if we don’t agree on this, it might end up di­vid­ing to the detri­ment of democ­racy and devel­op­ment in our coun­try,” said one of the sources, who is a high-rank­ing BNP mem­ber.

Con­tacted on the is­sue yes­ter­day, Chief ‘Maserib­ane would nei­ther con­firm nor deny the claim, but in­sisted the BNP was go­ing to con­tinue work­ing with the ABC in par­lia­ment “the way we have been do­ing in the coali­tion gov­ern­ment”.

How­ever, the BNP leader said the two par­ties were still to for­malise their al­liance now that they are in the op­po­si­tion.

“We will have to come up with an of­fi­cial agree­ment on how to work to­gether with the ABC and RCL,” said Chief ‘Maserib­ane.

“How­ever, I have to be clear that some of the is­sues you are ask­ing me have not yet been agreed upon and what­ever is be­ing dis­cussed can­not be re­vealed to the public at the mo­ment.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, the con­sti­tu­tional and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms Le­sotho needed to em­bark on re­quired a “very strong” Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in Par­lia­ment.

“The per­son who as­sumes the role would need to lobby gov­ern­ment and MPS to en­sure the re­forms serve the greater in­ter­ests of Ba­sotho,” said Chief ‘Maserib­ane, who is also the out­go­ing Gen­der, Youth, Sports and Recre­ation min­is­ter.

He also de­clared that the 9th Par- lia­ment would have the most ac­tive and vi­brant op­po­si­tion in Le­sotho’s his­tory.

“We man­aged to achieve a lot within the two-and-a-half years we were in of­fice as Le­sotho’s first coali­tion gov­ern­ment so we ex­pect to see some of the pro­grammes we had ini­ti­ated be­ing con­tin­ued by the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment for the good of Ba­sotho,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

“We will hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count on the ini­tia­tives we had al­ready launched and oth­ers that need to be ad­dressed re­gard­less of who would be lead­ing the op­po­si­tion.”

Chief ‘ Maserib­ane added the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment of the Demo­cratic Congress, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD), Mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party (MFP), Ba­sotho Congress Party (BCP), Na­tional In­de­pen­dent Party (NIP), Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democ­racy (PFD), also needed to ad­dress the coun­try’s se­cu­rity chal­lenges “as a mat­ter of ur­gency”.

“We need to see mean­ing­ful re­forms in the se­cu­rity sec­tor and, as a pow­er­ful op­po­si­tion, we will take the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment to task on this is­sue,” the BNP leader said.

“We want the cur­rent chal­lenges in the army, such as its com­mand, to be ad­dressed with­out fail.”

Per­pe­tra­tors of the 30 Au­gust 2014 army attack on three ma­jor Maseru po­lice sta­tions, which re­sulted in nine po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing badly in­jured and Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko shot dead, should be brought to jus­tice by the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment, Chief ‘Maserib­ane added.

“We still have the un­re­solved case of the 30 Au­gust raid of po­lice sta­tions and the mur­der of SubIn­spec­tor Ramahloko for which the ag­gres­sors should be an­swer­able,” said Chief ‘Maserib­ane.

He also said Le­sotho needed to fo­cus on devel­op­ment is­sues so the

King­dom could emerge from the least-de­vel­oped coun­try sta­tus.

“Ba­sotho’s in­ter­ests should re­main the first and fore­most pri­or­ity in all the is­sues we deal with,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

“We know that the elec­torate chose to divide the coun­try into two po­lit­i­cally, but we need to foster unity among Ba­sotho.

“As the op­po­si­tion, we will use our po­lit­i­cal power in par­lia­ment to stop the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment from ef­fect­ing any self-en­rich­ment ini­tia­tives.”

On his part, ABC Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele said the de­ci­sion on who would take up the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion post rested with his party’s lead­er­ship. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Nt­sekele, the three par­ties were in uni­son, although they were yet to work out the modal­i­ties of their op­po­si­tion al­liance.

“We are pulling in the same di­rec­tion as the three-party al­liance and will soon work out how we will work to­gether in par­lia­ment.

“With our num­bers, we will be able de­cide on the re­forms our coun­try needs to un­der­take,” said Mr Nt­sekele.

“The in­ter­est­ing thing is that the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment would re­quire a two-thirds ma­jor­ity to pass con­sti­tu­tional re­forms, so our in­put will mat­ter when it comes to the type of re­forms that will be im­ple­mented.”

ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu also told the Le­sotho Times the three par­ties were yet to de­cide on how they would work to­gether in par­lia­ment as the op­po­si­tion.

On her part, RCL leader, Keketso Ran­tšo, said the ABC called all the shots on who is go­ing to oc­cupy the po­si­tion due to its su­pe­rior num­ber of MPS.

BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane

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