MASERU — Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ’Maseribane says party supporters must stop bickering if they are to entertain any hopes of winning this year’s general election.
’Maseribane made the comments at the BNP’s two-day conference at ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre yesterday.
The conference’s main agenda was to discuss the draft manifesto to be used during the general election that is expected in May.
“Only if you can work hard and build a strong BNP whose support comes from the grassroots in the constituencies, local and committees in every district can we win elections,” ’Maseribane said.
In the draft manifesto the BNP pledges to focus on national economic empowerment, boost the mining sector, agriculture and food security.
It also promises to give serious attention to Lesotho’s foreign policy and education sector.
’Maseribane said BNP supporters must work harder if they are to take over from Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress administration.
He revealed that the party’s membership currently stands at 65 000 adding this figure was not exhaustive as some constituencies were still to submit their statistics.
’Maseribane said it was only through encouraging these supporters to register as voters that the BNP can become a government.
He took a swipe at the former Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)-led government for neglecting industries and projects that were started by the BNP government.
The BNP won Lesotho’s first democratic election in 1966 under Chief Leabua Jonathan.
But when the party lost the 1970 general election, Jonathan refused to step down and suspended the constitution until he was ousted in a military coup in 1986.
Critics accuse the BNP government between 1970 and 1986 of gross human rights violations.
They argue the party is a damaged brand and will need to work harder if the BNP is to be attractive to the electorate.
’Maseribane took a swipe at the LCD government adding it failed when it passed the Land Act 2010, a piece of legislation that was heavily biased in favour of foreign investors.
He said the new land law gave foreigners 80 percent shares against the locals’ 20 percent over a period of 60 years.
The BNP government would reverse this to 60/40 percent in favour of Basotho, ’Maseribane said.
’Maseribane said under the LCD government Lesotho had failed to feed itself.
He said under the BNP government Basotho were self-sufficient as they produced enough to feed themselves through the food self-sufficiency programme.
Lesotho’s rivers were not being tapped to support irrigation projects hence resulting in food insecurity.
“I do not see how Lesotho is not be able to feed herself if the BNP government gives priority to agriculture,” ’Maseribane said.
The party would also strive to improve the existing technical colleges like Lerotholi Polytechnic to enhance skills development.
’Maseribane said the rate of unemployment was unacceptably high and the LCD government had failed to come up with satisfactory wages for workers.
He accused the LCD government of failing to come up with an unemployment insurance fund to take care of workers when they lose their jobs.
“The LCD government also failed dismally to process the asparagus and bean factories at Masianokeng,” he said.
On Lesotho’s foreign policy, Maseribane said the BNP government would use its foreign policy to improve its relations with South Africa for the benefit of Basotho.
The BNP is however a shadow of its former self after years of infighting between rival factions. The party performed dismally in the 2007 general election winning just three seats under the proportional representation system.