RCL pulls out of op­po­si­tion pact

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

A VOT­ING pact that was re­cently agreed on by the op­po­si­tion par­ties could be headed for a still-birth after Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) leader, Keketso Ran­tšo this week urged her sup­port­ers to dis­re­gard the agree­ment and vote ex­clu­sively for RCL can­di­dates in next month’s na­tional elec­tions.

The op­po­si­tion held a joint rally on 6 May in the Ma­hobong con­stituency where Ms Ran­tšo and other lead­ers, Thomas Tha­bane of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) party, Monyane Moleleki (Al­liance of Democrats- AD), Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane (Ba­sotho Na­tional Party- BNP) an­nounced a vot­ing agree­ment to sup­port each other’s can­di­dates in se­lected con­stituen­cies.

This fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pact by the main par­ties in the out­go­ing coali­tion gov­ern­ment, Demo­cratic Congress (DC) and the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD).

The op­po­si­tion pact was seen in sev­eral quar­ters as the log­i­cal out­come of the co­op­er­a­tion which cul­mi­nated in the suc­cess­ful no con­fi­dence vote which brought down the Phakalitha Mo­sisili-led gov­ern­ment on 1 March.

How­ever, the col­lapse of the gov­ern­ment did not lead to the op­po­si­tion’s en­vis­aged out­come of ush­er­ing in a new ad­min­is­tra­tion led by Mr Moleleki for the first 18 months, after which he would be suc­ceeded by Dr Tha­bane.

Their plans were dealt a blow when King Let­sie III heeded Dr Mo­sisili’s ad­vice to dis­solve par­lia­ment and call for the snap elec­tions which will be held on 3 June.

The op­po­si­tion lead­ers an­nounced at the Ma­hobong rally that they had des­ig­nated six con­stituen­cies where their sup­port­ers should vote jointly for one agreed party can­di­date in or­der to de­feat the DC-LCD coali­tion.

They agreed to vote the ABC in Ma­hobong, which is the home con­stituency of deputy Prime Min­is­ter and LCD leader, Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing.

They also agreed to back the ABC in Abia (the home con­stituency of Dr Tha­bane), the AD in Machache (the home con­stituency of Mr Moleleki), the BNP in Mount Moorosi (the home con­stituency of Chief ‘Maserib­ane), the RCL in Taung (the home con­stituency of Ms Ran­tšo) and in Tsoe­like (the home con­stituency of Dr Mo­sisili).

How­ever, the pact un­rav­eled early this week when a vis­i­bly an­gry Ms Ran­tšo ad­dressed a rally in Taung num­ber 56 in the Mo­hale’s Hoek dis­trict and told her sup­port­ers to dis­re­gard the vot­ing pact and only back RCL can­di­dates.

Ms Ran­tšo’s call was made in re­tal­i­a­tion to ABC sup­port­ers in Taung who are op­posed to vot­ing for her in the con­stituency as per the 6 May agree­ment.

“No one can work in iso­la­tion tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the na­ture of our pol­i­tics nowa­days. I am from Maseru to­day (Sun­day) and I saw posters all over the town which stated that ABC mem­bers in Taung said they would not vote for RCL in this con­stituency as the lead­ers had an­nounced,” Ms Ran­tšo said.

“Sim­i­larly you should only vote for RCL in all those iden­ti­fied con­stituen­cies. It means you should vote for RCL in Machache, Mount Moorosi and Abia con­stituen­cies.

“The agree­ment to vote to­gether was made by four lead­ers of these par­ties, but it seems it did not sit well with the ABC sup­port­ers in this con­stituency (Taung).”

She de­scribed her al­leged re­jec­tion by the ABC as “painful” and “hu­mil­i­at­ing,” adding it was “tes­ti­mony that we can­not rely on any­body else to vote for us in this con­stituency”.

“There­fore, we should go out there and re­cruit women and youth to vote for our party as it is com­mit­ted to the em­pow­er­ment of women and youth,” she said.

How­ever, Ms Ran­tšo’s com­ments ap­peared to raise the ire of the op- po­si­tion par­ties who sep­a­rately told the Le­sotho Times that the vot­ing agree­ment was still in in­tact.

ABC spokesper­son Tefo Mape­sela sug­gested that Ms Ran­tšo had jumped the gun by mak­ing pro­nounce­ments at her rally after latch­ing onto sen­ti­ments ex­pressed at grass­roots level.

Mr Mape­sela said Ms Ran­tšo should have brought her griev­ances to the lead­ers who had agreed on the elec­tion pact.

“As far as I know the vot­ing agree­ment still stands. All that we have to do as lead­er­ship is to con­vince our sup­port­ers to vote ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment made by our lead­ers.

“It is true that the agree­ment is only made on mu­tual un­der­stand­ing. No one is be­ing forced to vote in any way, but we urge our sup­port­ers to vote in ac­cor­dance with the agree­ment,” Mr Mape­sela said.

He added: “What she (Ran­tšo) should have done was to in­form us about the sit­u­a­tion so that we could ad­dress it ac­cord­ingly.”

He said his party was in the process of ne­go­ti­at­ing with their can­di­dates in the des­ig­nated con­stituen­cies to get them to “un­der­stand our vi­sion on this agree­ment”.

He said they had made them aware that they could still be ac­com­mo­dated in other posts in­clud­ing in the sen­ate after the elec­tions.

“She must give our com­mit­tees a chance to solve the prob­lem. The sit­u­a­tion should be han­dled with the care and sen­si­tiv­ity it de­serves.

“After what she has al­ready told her sup­port­ers, I won­der if it would be easy for her to go back to them and nor­malise the sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Mape­sela said.

AD spokesper­son Te­boho Lehloenya con­curred with Mr Mape­sela, adding, “On Sun­day my leader (Mr Moleleki) ad­dressed a rally in Mo­hale’s Hoek where he main­tained that the four par­ties had agreed on the vot­ing sys­tem in the six iden­ti­fied con­stituen­cies”.

“We have made a com­mit­ment we are will­ing to abide by and we will talk about this agree­ment wher­ever we go.

“In or­der to show our com­mit­ment to the agree­ment we even went fur­ther to place our can­di­date for Taung con­stituency among the top can­di­dates on the PR (Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion) list so that our sup­port­ers would be able to vote for RCL in Taung with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

“The same thing ap­plies for Abia, Mount Moorosi, Ma­hobong and Tsoe­like,” he said.

For his part, the BNP’S sec­re­tary gen­eral, Regi­nald Tekateka reaf­firmed his party’s com­mit­ment to the vot­ing agree­ment, say­ing, “We are work­ing day in and day out to en­sure that the agree­ment works”.

“You’ll even re­alise that we ought to have gone for a joint rally in Qacha’s Nek last week­end in ac­cor­dance with our agree­ment but the rally was can­celled be­cause of the un­pleas­ant weather con­di­tions.”

The joint po­lit­i­cal rally had been slated for Tsoe­like but it was can­celled be­cause of the heavy snow fall in that area. Mean­while, Ms Ran­tšo told her sup­port­ers that an RCL gov­ern­ment would pri­ori­tise the wel­fare of pen­sion­ers.

She said they would also re­duce the age of peo­ple el­i­gi­ble for pen­sions from 70 to 55 years.

“We are say­ing peo­ple should start get­ting their pen­sions at the age of 55 years be­cause at this age peo­ple are al­ready tak­ing care of their grand­chil­dren,” she added.

She also called on party agents to be vig­i­lant at the polling sta­tions to pre­vent vote rig­ging.

RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo.

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