AD targets youth vote
BUTHA-BUTHE — Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki says his party has won the support of the youth through attractive policies to prioritise their welfare.
Mr Moleleki said this while addressing thousands of the AD supporters, mainly youth at Ha-marakabei in the Butha-buthe district this week.
The rally was meant to drum up support for the party ahead of the 3 June national elections in the four electoral constituencies of Mechachane No.1, Hololo No.2, Motete No.3 and Butha-buthe No.4.
The AD is an offshoot of the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led Democratic Congress (DC) which was formed in December 2016 after Mr Moleleki, then DC deputy leader unsuccessfully sought to wrest control of the party from Dr Mosisili.
He subsequently formed the AD, taking with him a substantial number of DC executive committee members, legislators as well as members of the youth and women’s leagues.
Mr Moleleki combined with other opposition parties in a vote of no confidence against the Dr Mosisili-led government in parliament last month and this led to the dissolution of parliament and His Majesty King Letsie’s call for fresh elections on 3 June.
And while some observers have attributed the large turnout of youths at AD rallies to the festive atmosphere of catchy music and dancing, Mr Moleleki said the reality was that they were attracted by the party’s policies which emphasised their primacy in the socio-economic and political growth of the country.
“The fact of the matter is that AD is supported by the youths in large numbers and that is because youths are the main priority in the AD,” Mr Moleleki said, adding, “You may want to increase pensions for the elderly but if your government has not invested in the youths to increase revenue through taxation you will not achieve your target”.
This was in apparent reference to Dr Mosisili’s pledge to prioritise the welfare of senior citizens. Dr Mosisili made the pledge at a DC rally in Kolonyama constituency in the Leribe district on Sunday.
“We, in the AD, pride ourselves in investing in young people because that’s the only way our elders will receive large sums as pensions.
“If you invest in youths, you build the economy fast. After beating Ntate Mosisili and his cronies in the coming elections, the AD will not sleep until the youths are well equipped to start their own businesses and employ others.”
He said the high rates of youth unemployment would be a thing of the past, adding the AD had already identified two youths and sent them abroad to study how to grow cotton so that upon their return they would initiate cotton growing to boost the country’s textile industry.
“We already have a number of textile factories and we don’t need to be importing cotton from other countries,” he said, adding their decision was informed by the findings of a 2004 feasibility study which concluded that “good cotton” could be grown in Lesotho.
He urged the electorate to vote out Dr Mosisili and his allies, saying the country could not afford to continue waiting on their false promises.
He said his party supported the training of the youths with the help of external partners, rather than that of government.
“For a long time Ntate Mosisili has been promising the people of Butha-buthe that he would fix the road from Ha-marakabei and Qholaqhoe to no avail.
“We solemnly promise the people of Butha-buthe that once in power we will fix that road as a matter of urgency.
“The AD will also give you electricity, even to the poorest households and unlike Ntate Mosisili, I am not making empty promises.”
After joining forces with the Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) and other opposition parties, it had been widely expected that the AD and ABC would forge an electoral pact in the same manner that outgoing coalition government partners DC and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) have done.
But Dr Thabane said his party would go it alone and only forge a coalition agreement after the elections.
However, Mr Moleleki downplayed the parties’ failure to present a united front in the elections, saying the AD and ABC were on the same side.
He said in any event, the AD had become the country’s second largest party after the ABC and could defeat the DC-LCD alliance on its own.
“The AD already commands a commendable support base and only the ABC has more members.
“As for Ntate Mosisili’s DC and his cronies, we can beat them on our own even if they combine and cobble up an election pact. Therefore, the so-called alliance of congress parties forged between Ntate Mosisili’s DC and Ntate Mothetjoa Metsing’s LCD is fake because they left out other congress parties.”
The AD leader alleged the Basotho Congress Party leader, Advocate Thulo Mahlakeng was already crying foul after having being left out in the cold by Dr Mosisili and Mr Metsing “who claim to have revived and brought together the congress parties”.
Ntate Mosisili and his cronies are simply a bunch of thugs. He claims to have forged an alliance with someone (Mr Metsing) whose party is finished. He is adding one plus zero and expects the answer to be two; how ironic.”
However, LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata dismissed Mr Moleleki’s utterances saying the partnership included all parties in the outgoing government.
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“To show how transparent this alliance is, all parties in government were consulted and they are party to this decision. They are all part of the strategy as our primary goal is to build a stable government that will last five years after the elections,” Mr Sekata said.
He said the alliance was twofold with the first part being the partnership of three parties, namely DC, LCD and PFD. He said the DC would contest in 54 constituencies, the LCD in 25 while PFD would contest in one constituency.
“In the second part of the pact, we agreed that the other parties in government will field candidates in all 80 constituencies so that they will be able to collect enough to add to proportional seats.
“We anticipate that each of these parties will collect at least one seat as we are going to need those seats to strengthen our government. We will form the government together with them,” Mr Sekata said.
He also described Mr Moleleki as “Lesotho’s number one thug,” adding he had been a problematic politician sowing divisions in the congress movement.
“To show that Ntate Moleleki is the greatest thug, he has just been acquitted from corruption charges under very suspicious circumstances where all of a sudden there was no longer evidence against him.
“We all know that there was enough evidence in the past such that he faked illness to avoid jail. Now, the evidence against him is no longer there,” Mr Sekata charged.
AD leader Monyane Moleleki greets supporters during a rally in Ha-marakabei, Butha-buthe.