- “step down or face crushing polls defeat”
BUOYANT Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu had one message for the embattled All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, yesterday while addressing hundreds of DC supporters at a rally in Thaba Putsoa.
“There is no going back on the no confidence vote,” the youthful leader said to loud cheers by the boisterous DC supporters.
“Either you voluntarily give up power or you advise His Majesty, King Letsie III, to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections. Whatever you decide, you still go and the DC is ready to assume the reins of power.”
Mr Mokhothu said even if Dr Thabane called for snap polls, the DC was more than prepared, adding it had so far recruited over 2000 new supporters during its last four rallies in different parts of the country.
He said more people would be joining the DC over the coming months as the former ruling party upped its preparations to ensure that it would surpass the 61-seat threshold required for a party to govern alone.
Parliament re-opened on 18 October after it had been indefinitely adjourned in June 2019 after Motebang Koma, the Koro-Koro constituency legislator from Dr Thabane’s own ABC party, filed the no confidence motion.
Mr Koma, who is one of the ABC legislators backing the party’s deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao in his power struggle with Dr Thabane, was seconded by the DC’s deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, in the no confidence motion.
Mr Koma proposed that the ABC’s Mosalemane constituency legislator, Samuel Rapapa, takes over as caretaker prime minister.
Parliament had then been abruptly adjourned to save Dr Thabane from the no confidence motion and to give him the opportunity to resolve the power struggle in his fractious party.
Ahead of the re-opening of parliament, pro-Mahao ABC legislators and opposition leaders including Mr Mokhothu told the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication that they would still push to oust Dr Thabane through a no confidence vote regardless of how long it took before the motion was tabled.
Yesterday, Mr Mokhothu reiterated his support for the no confidence motion, telling DC supporters in Thaba Putsoa that the DC was ready for elections in the event that Dr Thabane refused to step down and instead advised His Majesty King Letsie III to call for fresh polls.
He said the ABC and its governing allies- the Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho all feared losing to the DC hence they would come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid the elections.
He said the DC was buoyed by the 2000 new supporters who had joined out of frustration with the governing coalition.
“We have lost confidence in Ntate-Moholo Thabane and all we are waiting for is for the motion to be moved in parliament so that he may choose whether he calls elections or hands over power to someone who parliament will vote for,” Mr Mokhothu said.
“They cannot match us and therefore they fear elections. They say that elections are expensive but that cannot match the amount of money they spend on international trips. The DC will be back in power as government due to large numbers joining us. In our recent #GrowDC campaign, 674 people in Bobatsi constituency joined the DC, 455 joined in Mokhotlong, 548 in Senqu and 508 in Malingoaneng.
“This is just the beginning and it is in their (governing coalition’s) best interest to call for elections now because if they delay, we will be completely unstoppable and will win all constituencies. Our goal is for DC to rule on its own so we can effectively bring services to the people.
“Lesotho’s problems started in 2012 when the coalition government was introduced. Even if we rule with another party, we should have 61 seats so that we stay in power even when we cut our coalition ties.”
Mr Mokhothu accused the government of bankrupting the country through numerous unnecessary but costly international trips. He accused Dr Thabane of reneging on his 2017 election campaign promises of ending poverty and corruption.
“Ntate-Moholo Thabane vowed to end poverty but all we see is his administration milking the public funds through international trips. As I speak, the Prime Minister is in Siberia and from there he is going to Canada with an entourage of 65 people, spending M6, 4 million of public funds. Before then, he spent over M3 million while going to United Nations accompanied by 28 people.
“He never travels with less than 20 people which is against his own policy. Minister of Finance, Moeketsi Majoro, lied to the nation and world at large saying the government would cut on international trips but they are increasing the travels and size of the delegations.
“The government has also landed the country into a M2, 4 billion debt which they say is for building new sports facilities. It is true we love development but only when it is done the right way. Ntate-Moholo Thabane is 81 years old and his deputy Montana Moleleki is around 70. The debt is going to be repaid in 35 years which means they will long be gone by then and your children will be left to pay that money. It means that for the coming 35 years there will not be any development in the country as government will be paying debts.”
Mr Mokhothu also accused the government of killing Basotho’s businesses, especially the wool and mohair industry through regulations which forbid farmers from selling their fibre from wherever they choose. He also lambasted Dr Thabane’s administration for giving the Chinese monopoly over red meat production through Meraka abattoir. He also said the government failed to pay many Basotho entrepreneurs therefore killed their businesses.
The DC leader said that when his party comes to power, it will put the interests of the nation before those of parliamentarians. He said his party would create jobs and subsidise farmers to boost agricultural production.
“We will subsidise livestock farmers with 50 percent of the costs when they buy animals. We will plough people’s fields for them to take 60 percent of the produce while government takes 40 percent. Chicken, eggs and vegetables should not be imported from South Africa as those are the projects you should be doing yourselves and DC vows to assist you establish such cooperatives. We will also avail capital to graduates and not promise them jobs of removing weeds. DC will create jobs and ensure that it pays Basotho entrepreneurs who are contracted by government on time,” Mr Mokhothu said.