MASERU — The All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) are said to be engaged in a low-key “cold war” as they seek to position themselves in front ahead of the 2017 general election.
The two parties are the biggest partners in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
A third party, the Basotho National Party, is also part of the coalition.
There have been reports of tensions between the ABC and LCD as the two parties jostle for influence ahead of elections in four years time.
The dispute burst into the public domain for the first time last week after the LCD MP for Khafung, Motlalepula Khaahloe, chastised two ABC ministers at a public gathering.
The unprecedented attack could exacerbate tensions between the two coalition partners which ganged up against the former ruling Democratic Congress party after last year’s inconclusive elections.
Khaahloe told the gathering that Agriculture Minister Litšoane Litšoane and Social Development Minister ’Matebatso Doti were clandestinely campaigning for the ABC in his constituency under the guise of performing their ministerial duties.
He told the two ministers in his public speech that they should always observe protocol and involve him when they go to his constituency for any government assignments.
“I had every reason to act like I did, reprimanding them in public and showing my discontent right there in front of the people because what they are doing is dangerous to the coalition government,” Khahloe told the Sunday Express last night.
“When the coalition government has problems in the future because of acts like this one I don’t want the people to ask why we shut up. I want the people to know that the coalition is being jeopardised right now.” The two ministers had gone to Ha-Phoofolo in Khafung constituency to address a meeting on poverty alleviation as well as allocating gifts.
Khaahloe last night told this paper that he was invited to the meeting at the eleventh hour.
He said the late invitation was a clear indication they never intended to invite him in the first place.
“It shows that the plan was not to engage me at all but because there is an agreement reached in parliament that MPs should be involved when their constituencies are visited they just did not know how to avoid it,” he said.
Khaahloe’s main complaint is however not his snubbing by the ministers at the function in Khafung but the presents that were handed to people.
“I saw the presents being bought by one of the ministers and I was not aware that they were to be given to the needy in my constituency.
“By the time I became aware of it they were now being handed over with words that they were from a man I know is a member of ABC who is being groomed to contest in the constituency.
“I don’t have any problem with ministers pushing for their man in this constituency but they should do that under the ABC flag not coming in their ministerial capacities,” he said.
“The moment they do anything in the name of the government in Khafung they should involve me from the onset.”
Khaahloe said many MPs, from both LCD and ABC, have had similar experiences to an extent that the leader of Parliament Mothetjoa Metsing who is also the LCD leader raised the issue and it was agreed that MPs will be engaged when their constituencies are visited.
He said the ABC MPs had complained that LCD ministers were visiting their constituencies to perform governmental functions without involving them while the LCD MPs had the same complaints with the ABC ministers.
“It is common knowledge in these parties that ABC MPs complained that Ministers Tšeliso Mokhosi and Selibe Mochoboroane go to their constituencies in their ministerial capacities without telling them,” he said.
Mokhosi is the Communications Minister and Mochoboroane is the Local Government Deputy Minister.
They are both LCD MPs.
“This has to be addressed now if the coalition government is to last longer.”
Litšoane told this paper last night that he was surprised when Khaahloe complained on Wednesday because “it was not our problem that he was not invited or he delayed to be invited”.
“It is the District Administrator who has the responsibility to invite all stakeholders not us, ministers,” Litšoane said.
“It is not true that our agenda was to introduce the ABC man to the voters by pretending to be on a government mission,” he said.
“The man who donated to the people is Khoabane Ramaisa, who was born in that village. I don’t even know his political affiliation.”
Khaahloe however insisted that he knew that Ramaisa is a member of the ABC and that he is being prepared as a candidate for the next elections.
Litšoane on the other hand said their man in the constituency is Tente Rapopo who lost to Khaahloe last year.
Litšoane said they went to the village at the invitation of the chief, Khobotle Phoofolo, who said his people had been struck by poverty and he needed the ministers’ intervention.
Ramaisa, the minister said, made a follow-up to the chief’s invitation because he pitied his people who are suffering “and he decided to donate and asked us to distribute the presents on his behalf, although he was present at the public gathering”.
“Ramaisa is a businessman living in Maseru and he plans to go back home, where he is building a big house.
“We have not introduced him to the people there because they know him as one of them.”
Litšoane vehemently denied that they went to the constituency on party business while pretending to be doing their ministerial duties.
Khaahloe said it was the third time that ABC ministers went to his constituency “pretending to be on government duty while in fact they carried out their party political mandates”.
“In the first two incidents I was not engaged at all,” he said.
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