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DC fears for Lesotho

 

…main position party says Prime Minister Thabane is doing everything possible to sabotage the upcoming election and then rule by ‘decree’.

Keiso Mohloboli

The Democratic Congress (DC) has accused Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of doing everything possible to ensure the 28 February snap elections are postponed or their results nullified “and thereafter rule Lesotho by decree”.

The main opposition party further says the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader has teamed-up with “his Basotho National Party (BNP) allies” to create a hostile environment in which a free and fair election is not possible.

In a statement released on Thursday, the DC has urged the international community “to watch the affairs of Lesotho closely” in the run-up and after the snap elections and ensure the election observer missions are bigger and “more discerning and stay longer than normal”.

The party fears if Dr Thabane is not stopped from using “his political power to annihilate the very system that gave him that power in the first place, then Lesotho will descend into an abyss much darker than that of 1970”.

According to the statement, Dr Thabane had allegedly become a law unto himself and did not care what anybody thought about it.

“The contemporary political history of Lesotho has sadly become a chronicle of misdeeds, abuses and grotesque acts of chicanery and derision on the part of the Right Honourable Thomas Motsoahae Thabane.

“The Democratic Congress has produced articles and press statements and sent letters to different local and international organisations, always with the intention of shedding light on the actions of Lesotho’s premier and provide a well-argued interpretation of these actions.

“The most consistent thread of argument in all our documents and presentations has been that the prime minister is seeking to use his political power to destroy the very democratic system which gave him that power in the first place (in June 2012).

“In this statement, we would want to warn Basotho, SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the rest of the international community that the current escapades of the prime minister are intended either as a way to preclude the elections of 28 February 2015 or as a basis for refusing to accept the results of those elections if his party loses.”

The DC then chronicles several alleged transgressions by Dr Thabane and BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and their supporters which the party, led by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, says are meant to ensure Lesotho does not go for elections and the status quo remains.

“It is now public knowledge that the ABC and BNP feel that SADC Facilitator to Lesotho, South Africa’s Deputy President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, is forcing an unnecessary election upon Basotho.

“On 29 January 2015, BNP Deputy Leader Joang Molapo presented a spirited paper before the SADC Double Troika Plus Two meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that Lesotho was not ready for general elections.

“He gave that meeting the impression that the elections should at least be postponed to a later date. It is needless to mention that this position is held strongly by the ABC as evidenced by the words of the prime minister at the 9th February 2015 meeting held in Pretoria under the chairmanship of SA President Jacob Zuma. In this meeting, Thabane suggested postponing the elections to May 2015.

“These two allies, the ABC and BNP, are so completely disillusioned with the SADC Facilitator that they would have held a mass demonstration (on 1 February 2015) demanding an end to his activities in Lesotho, if they had not been denied a permit by the police. There is even a smear campaign to impugn the printing of ballot paper with undercurrent fallacies that Ramaphosa’s company is involved.

“Our submission is that the prime minister needs time to consolidate his grip on power so that in the end, he will not need to go to any election. He wants to rule this country by decree and as such, an election is not one of the things on his agenda. This is the one thing in which he has been most consistent throughout his time in power.”

The DC further accuses Dr Thabane of trying to ensure the Lesotho Defence Force Lesotho Mounted Police Service are subservient to him as an individual.

“In one of his many irresponsible utterances, the prime minister said by 28 February 2015, he would have taken full control of the army, yet he is the minister in charge of the army.  What more control is he envisioning? Could it be that he needs the kind of grip he had over the police during the time of Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana? Why does he need control of the army just two weeks before the elections?”

“Again, government recently instructed the security chiefs to stop joint army and police marches and addresses which were intended to bring peace between them. From the time that he took over as prime minister, he is now on the fifth commissioner of police.

“The prime minister is so much obsessed with having control over the security establishments. Our submission is that for anyone who wants to take over government by force, or continue staying there undemocratically, both the army and police are of pivotal importance. He needs to have not just official control over them but their personal allegiance and loyalty.”

The DC also cites instances in which the premier and BNP allegedly violated the electoral laws to get an “unfair advantage” and create an impression that the elections are not free and fair.

“The DC has submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), evidence of the donations of food parcels and clothing made by the ABC and BNP, contrary to stipulations of Section 163 (2) (b) of the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011.”

The DC also accuses Dr Thabane of breaching the Electoral Pledge, which among others, discourages the appointment and dismissal of any key personnel at state institutions during the electoral period which began on 8 December 2014 and ends next month.

“But we’ve seen the Prime Minister recently facilitating the swearing-in of Advocate Kananelo Mosito as President of the Appeal Court. He also terminated the service of Acting Commissioner of Police Masupha Masupha and appointed one Holomo Molibeli in his place. He also appointed Mathabatha Hlalele and ‘Maphunye Monare as Principal Secretaries for Cabinet and Trade, respectively.”

Dr Thabane is also accused of encouraging ABC supporters to attack DC members, and also urging them to disrupt the main opposition party’s campaign rallies.

“It can safely be said the culture of violence and intimidation is quite strong among the ABC and BNP. Their general demeanour and style is to make the loudest noise, throw their weight about and browbeat everyone into submission. This culture has its roots in the hegemonic rule of the BNP back in the 1970s and 1980s when the police and army were used to enforce Chief Leabua Jonathan’s dictatorship over our people.

“But this year, it is being deliberately rekindled and fuelled by the prime minister as a strategy to ensure unfair advantage through fear, domination, and virtual monopoly of the campaign process. The point here is the prime minister will not hesitate to use violence to stay in power and has begun to incite his followers accordingly.”

The DC has further pledged support for Mr Ramaphosa’s facilitation efforts which began in September 2014 at the height of infighting between the coalition government parties, namely the ABC, BNP and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

It was through the mediation that Lesotho is heading for an election two years early, but according to the DC, the poll will not take place if the ABC and BNP have their way.

Repeated attempts to get the ABC and BNP reaction to the statement were not successful with officials indicating they were in meetings and would “call back”.

 

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