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BNP woos textile factory workers


Billy Ntaote

BASOTHO National Party (BNP) spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe says the electorate faces a stark choice between anarchy and rule of law in the 3 June 2017 snap general elections.

Addressing thousands of textile factory workers in his home constituency of Thetsane on Friday, Mr Mofomobe said only the BNP could guarantee them job security in light of uncertainty in the sector.

Lesotho’s textile industry is anchored on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which employs more than 40 000 people in addition to other downstream sectors.

AGOA provides for duty-free entry of goods into the United States from designated sub-Saharan African countries.

However, Lesotho’s eligibility for the free trade facility remains up in the air after the Mountain Kingdom failed to meet governance benchmarks set by the Americans.

The US government has been steadfast on their stance that Lesotho would only continue to benefit from AGOA after taking “concrete actions” that address concerns about “impunity and the rule of law” as well as implementing recommendations made by a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry.

The inquiry carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended an amnesty for 23 soldiers facing mutiny charges before the Court Martial. The soldiers were arrested between May and June 2015 for allegedly plotting to violently remove the LDF command.

The 10-member probe team also recommended the suspension of army members implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason while investigations into the allegations proceeded in line with international best practice.

Mr Mofomobe told the gathering they faced a stark choice on election day. King Letsie III dissolved parliament on 5 March 2017 after the passing of a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s seven-party coalition government on 1 March.

Dr Mosisili was toppled by an alliance of four opposition parties, namely All Basotho Convention, Alliance of Democrats, BNP and Reformed Congress of Lesotho after garnering the support of up to 74 MPs in the 120-member National Assembly, which just requires 61 seats to form government.

Soon after the vote, Dr Mosisili advised King Letsie III to dissolve parliament, with the monarch eventually calling for Lesotho’s third general elections in five years.

“On 3 June, you will be voting for either bad or good, evil or godly deeds and either the promotion of rule of law or the promotion of lawlessness,” said Mr Mofomobe.

He said the BNP was committed to accountability and fostering good governance needed for the textile factory workers to retain their jobs.

“We have seen the rampant abuse of state funds in numerous shady and corrupt deals by the government to the detriment of our society. “You should then vote for a government that will protect your rights as workers by ensuring there is good governance and rule of law,” said the BNP spokesman.

Mr Mofomobe said the dissolving of parliament by King Letsie III without the input of the Council of State — which is mandated with advising the monarch on such issues — was unconstitutional.

“The prime minister should not have been the sole adviser to the King after losing a no-confidence motion,” he said.

“The constitution stipulates that the Council of State should be convened to advise the King in such situations.”

Mr Mofomobe also revealed that he had filed a court application challenging the constitutionality of the Public Meetings and Procession Act (2010).

“I believe that law is infringing on our right to assemble. We have had a number of incidents where the police denied us permits to assemble or to hold a protest march under the premise that we are contravening the law contrary to the constitutional right I should be enjoying as a citizen.”

The BNP spokesperson also indicated he had filed an urgent constitutional court application seeking to interdict Finance Minister Tlohang Sekhamane from withdrawing from the main bank account of the government starting on 31 March 2017.

 “Parliament has not passed the Appropriation Act and we need that Act to be passed before there could be any public funds used by the Finance minister and his officials,” he said.

Mr Mofomobe also promised to prioritise the safety of women in the constituency by expanding the Thetsane Police Post into a police station if elected into power.

“We need to have police officers patrolling the various villages in the constituency,” he said.

“Particularly in winter, women are vulnerable to criminals. The Maseru City Council needs to install lights in the area to ensure women and children can safety travel in the constituency without fearing the darkness at night.”

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