Op­po­si­tion tar­gets Mo­sisili - Mets­ing seats

. . . forges pact to field one can­di­date in Tsoe­like and Ma­hobong con­stituen­cies

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

LERIBE — FOUR op­po­si­tion par­ties have patched up cracks in their loose al­liance by join­ing forces to field one can­di­date in con­stituen­cies con­tested by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili and his deputy Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing in the 3 June par­lia­men­tary elec­tion.

The bloc, which con­sists of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Al­liance of Democrats (AD, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Con­gress of Le­sotho (RCL), has also agreed to with­draw can­di­dates for con­stituen­cies be­ing con­tested by the party lead­ers as a show of unity.

How­ever, Dr Mo­sisili’s Po­lit­i­cal and Eco­nomic Ad­viser, Dr Fako Likoti, has scoffed at the elec­toral pact, say­ing the elec­toral pact would not wrest the con­stituen­cies won by the con­gress par­ties in the 2015 elec­tion be­cause they were won by huge mar­gins.

Un­der the agree­ment, the four par­ties will all vote for the AD’S can­di­date, Mosira Tha­hali, against Dr Mo­sisili in Tsoe­like con­stituency.

In Ma­hobong con­stituency, the bloc will vote for the ABC’S can­di­date, Fo­nane Sello, against Mr Mets­ing.

The quar­tet will also vote for ABC leader and former prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane in Abia con­stituency, AD leader Monyane Moleleki in Machache, BNP leader Th­e­sele ’Maserib­ane in Mount Moorosi and RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo in Taung.

Dr Mo­sisili, who is also Demo­cratic Con­gress (DC) leader, won the Tsoe­like con­stituency with 4 581 votes in the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tion, trounc­ing the run­ner-up ABC which had 325 votes.

Le­sotho Con­gress for Democ­racy (LCD) leader, Mr Mets­ing also won the Ma­hobong con­stituency with 3 501 votes, fol­lowed by the ABC with 2 449 votes in the 2015 poll.

Dr Tha­bane, on the other hand, won Abia with 5 918 votes in 2015, fol­lowed by the DC with 1 195 votes.

Mr Moleleki won Machache with 4 864 votes un­der the DC ban­ner, fol­lowed by the ABC with 2 358 votes. Mr Moleleki was the DC’S deputy leader un­til De­cem­ber 2016 when he jumped ship af­ter fail­ing to wrest con­trol of the party from Dr Mo­sisili.

Chief ’Maserib­ane won Mount Moorosi with a small mar­gin of 2 390 votes against the first run­ner-up, DC, which notched 2 279 votes.

For her part, Ms Ran­tšo only man­aged third po­si­tion in Taung with 484 votes af­ter sec­ond-placed ABC, which gar­nered 1 773 votes, and the DC which won the con­stituency with 2 127 votes.

The DC, LCD and Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy (PFD) re­cently forged a pact to field one can­di­date for each of the coun­try’s 80 con­stituen­cies cit­ing a need to avoid vote split­ting.

Un­der the pact, the DC will con­test in 54 con­stituen­cies while the LCD was al­lo­cated 25. The three par­ties will vote for PFD leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane, in his Qalo strong­hold in Butha-buthe.

The de­ci­sion to join forces comes in the wake of sim­mer­ing dis­con­tent in the bloc with some of the par­ties ac­cus­ing the ABC of not re­gard­ing them as equals in the loose al­liance.

The par­ties forged an al­liance last Novem­ber to oust Dr Mo­sisili’s seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment through a par­lia­men­tary no-con­fi­dence vote.

Un­der the agree­ment, AD leader Monyane Moleleki would have been prime min­is­ter for the first 18 months upon form­ing gov­ern­ment, with ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane deputis­ing him.

Dr Tha­bane would have swapped places with the AD leader in the re­main­ing 18 months of the deal.

The par­ties suc­cess­fully en­gi­neered the no-con­fi­dence mo­tion on 1 March 2017, pre­ma­turely end­ing the five-year ten­ure of the seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment which was es­tab­lished in March 2015. How­ever, Dr Mo­sisili re­sorted to a con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion that em­pow­ers a sit­ting prime min­is­ter to ad­vise the King to dis­solve par­lia­ment and call for elec­tions.

King Let­sie III ac­qui­esced to the premier’s ad­vice and duly dis­solved par­lia­ment on 6 March 2017 and even­tu­ally pro­claimed 3 June 2017 as elec­tion-day.

The dis­so­lu­tion of par­lia­ment put paid to the al­liance, with Dr Tha­bane even­tu­ally rul­ing out forg­ing an elec­toral pact with the four par­ties, say­ing the ABC was aim­ing to win all the coun­try’s 80 con­stituency seats.

Dr Tha­bane had said he would only con­sider a coali­tion ar­range­ment with the other par­ties if the ABC failed to muster enough seats to form gov­ern­ment on its own.

The ABC’S stance did not go down well with the other par­ties, cul­mi­nat­ing in the AD and BNP last Wed­nes­day pulling out of a joint op­po­si­tion rally sched­uled for Ma­hobong con­stituency in Leribe last Satur­day.

The AD and BNP re­versed their de­ci­sion af­ter the par­ties held an emer­gency meet­ing last Fri­day to iron out their dif­fer­ences.

The joint Ma­hobong con­stituency rally was held on Satur­day as ini­tially sched­uled and at­tended by thou­sands of the par­ties’ sup­port­ers.

In his ad­dress, Dr Tha­bane said the four par­ties’ lead­ers met and agreed on the new ar­range­ment to join forces in the six con­stituen­cies.

“As the ABC, AD, RCL and BNP lead­ers, we stand here be­fore you with a new pledge that will bind us to work hand-in-hand and re­main friends,” the former premier said.

“I as­sure you that we value the unity that we have. To­gether, we are fight­ing one en­emy (con­gress move­ment) which con­tin­ues to de­stroy our coun­try.”

Dr Tha­bane said they were de­ter­mined to ensure Dr Mo­sisili and Mr Mets­ing would not be elected into the Na­tional Assem­bly.

“We don’t see a rea­son why we can­not come to­gether and vote against the en­emy,” he said.

“We have agreed on this ar­range­ment be­cause we value the friend­ship that we have. We want to make sure that both Ntate Mo­sisili and Ntate Mets­ing can only get into the next par­lia­ment though pro­por­tional rep- re­sen­ta­tion.”

Dr Tha­bane said he and Mr Moleleki had “borne the brunt” of Dr Mo­sisili’s “mis­rule” as gov­ern­ment min­is­ters be­fore de­cid­ing to form their own par­ties.

Dr Tha­bane left the Dr Mo­sisili-led LCD gov­ern­ment in 2006 to form the ABC while Mr Moleleki re­signed as a min­is­ter in De­cem­ber last year to es­tab­lish the AD.

“When I left Ntate Mo­sisili and his regime, I asked Mokola (as Mr Moleleki is af­fec­tion­ately known) to join me but he was hes­i­tant say­ing he was try­ing to fix the trou­bled con­gress move­ment from within,” Dr Tha­bane said.

“He (Mr Moleleki) re­cently re­alised that he won’t be able to fix any­thing with Ntate Mo­sisili still at the helm. So he also left. Peo­ple leave Ntate Mo­sisili one by one once they re­alise what kind of a per­son he is.” The former premier also in­di­cated that

it was un­der Dr Mo­sisili and Mr Mets­ing’s watch that crim­i­nal­ity “es­ca­lated” in the coun­try.

“When we form gov­ern­ment af­ter next month’s elec­tions, I don’t want to see any thieves and rapists do­ing as they please to in­no­cent and vul­ner­a­ble Ba­sotho. That should end to­gether with Ntate Mo­sisili and Ntate Mets­ing’s regime,” Dr Tha­bane added.

Mr Moleleki echoed the sen­ti­ments, say­ing: “On 3 June, we are go­ing to re­peat what we did to Ntate Mo­sisili and his part­ners in March this year. “We top­pled Ntate Mo­sisili in par­lia­ment through a no-con­fi­dence vote against him and his gov­ern­ment. Next month, we are seal­ing his fate of go­ing home by win­ning the elec­tions as the op­po­si­tion bloc.”

Chief ’ Maserib­ane di­rected his ire at Mr Mets­ing whom he de­scribed as a “rab­ble-rouser”. The BNP leader ac­cused the deputy premier of catalysing the col­lapse of the Dr Tha­bane led coali­tion gov­ern­ment in 2014 and the out­go­ing seven-party gov­ern­ing coali­tion.

The ABC, LCD and BNP formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment af­ter the 26 May 2012 gen­eral elec­tion had re­sulted in a hung par­lia­ment. How­ever, the coali­tion gov­ern­ment col­lapsed in 2014 af­ter Mr Mets­ing ac­cused Dr Tha­bane of not con­sult­ing him on key gov­er­nance de­ci­sions.

“He (Mr Mets­ing) has con­tin­u­ously caused in­sta­bil­ity in suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments,” Chief ’Maserib­ane charged.

“Ntate Mets­ing caused our first coali­tion gov­ern­ment to col­lapse in 2014. Again, he caused di­vi­sions be­tween Ntate Mo­sisili and Ntate Moleleki re­sult­ing in the col­lapse of the cur­rent gov­ern­ment. He is a rab­ble-rouser.”

Ms Ran­tšo also chipped in say­ing the lives of in­no­cent Ba­sotho were lost and en­dan­gered by peo­ple who sup­ported Dr Mo­sisili and Mr Mets­ing.

“The lives of in­no­cent peo­ple, in­clud­ing the former army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko and many oth­ers, were lost through bru­tal at­tacks by the army and other se­cu­rity agen­cies,” she said.

“It is time the na­tion voted out Ntate Mo­sisili and Ntate Mets­ing be­cause they have hurt and failed Ba­sotho.”

Sub-in­spec­tor Ramahloko was killed in an army raid of Po­lice Head­quar­ters on 30 Au­gust 2014 in what the mil­i­tary said was a spe­cial op­er­a­tion.

How­ever, Dr Tha­bane – who was premier at the time – called the as­saults an at­tempted coup.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot dead on 25 June 2015 out­side Maseru by his fel­low sol­diers who claimed they had come to ar­rest him for al­leged mutiny. How­ever, the Ma­hao fam­ily has ac­cused the army of killing him in cold blood bas­ing on the ac­count of his neph­ews who were with him dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

The ABC and AD’S sec­re­tary-gen­er­als, Sa­monyane Nt­sekele and Mokhele Mo­let­sane re­spec­tively, this week con­firmed the op­po­si­tion par­ties’ agree­ment to join forces in sep­a­rate in­ter­views with the Le­sotho Times.

The duo also re­vealed that the can­di­dates who were ini­tially sched­uled to con­test in the six con­stituen­cies had al­ready been in­formed of the new ar­range­ment.

“It is a supreme de­ci­sion reached by the party lead­ers and no one should chal­lenge it within the ranks of the par­ties,” Mr Mokhele said.

BNP deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo also con­firmed to the Le­sotho Times that the agree­ment was “gen­uine”.

Com­ment­ing on the devel­op­ment, Dr Likoti said the elec­toral pact was an “ill-fated al­liance of con­ve­nience which was not based on prin­ci­ple”.

“For the op­po­si­tion par­ties to come up with an ar­range­ment now to vote to­gether is sim­ply a joke be­cause they al­ready had can­di­dates for the six con­stituen­cies,” he said.

“This move is go­ing to con­fuse and dis­en­fran­chise their vot­ers. This is clearly an al­liance of con­ve­nience which is not based on prin­ci­ples.”

Dr Likoti said the par­ties would not be able to wrest the con­stituen­cies won by the con­gress par­ties in the 2015 elec­tion be­cause they were won by huge mar­gins.

“Even if we may as­sume that they will vote to­gether, their ob­jec­tive to de­feat the con­gress al­liance would not be achieved based on the out­come of the 2015 elec­tions.

“If you look at the re­sults of the 2015 elec­tions, you re­alise that the com­bi­na­tion of the LCD and DC will re­sult in more votes than the four par­ties com­bined. They may win Abia only be­cause that is where the ABC proved it still com­manded a lot of sup­port as I ob­served dur­ing the an­nounce­ment of the party can­di­dates by the IEC (In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion) on 19 April 2017. As for Machache, we have a mixed bag. Ntate Moleleki can­not say for cer­tain that he will win that con­stituency even if the four par­ties com­bine votes,” Dr Likoti said, adding that the con­gress al­liance was sure to win to win the bulk of the 80 elected seats in con­tention.

Re­peated ef­forts to get a com­ment from LCD spokesper­son Te­boho Sekata proved fruit­less as his phone kept ring­ing unan­swered.

RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo (sec­ond from left) and party of­fi­cials salute the crowd in Ma­hobong on Satur­day.

OP­PO­SI­TION sup­port­ers cheer their lead­ers upon their ar­rival in Ma­hobong on Satur­day.

SUP­PORT­ERS fol­low pro­ceed­ings dur­ing the joint rally in Ma­hobong.

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