. . premier says ‘even politicians’ don’t have right to buy votes
PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has warned members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) against dabbling in party politics ahead of the 3 June 2017 general elections.
The premier says any officer who wants to be in active politics should leave the LMPS first, adding that vote buying in the upcoming polls would not be tolerated by politicians let alone by cops.
Addressing a pass-out ceremony for 297 recruits at Police Training College on Friday, Dr Mosisili said engaging in party politics affected the LMPS members’ ability to perform their duties impartially and professionally.
He told the new constables they were starting their careers “at a very important and critical time” in the country’s history.
Basotho go to the polls on 3 June 2017 after Dr Mosisili’s seven-party coalition government was toppled in a parliamentary no-confidence vote engineered by a four party opposition coalition on 1 March 2017.
“The citizens of Lesotho will cast their ballots soon, but my message to you recruits and to all LMPS members is leave politics to me and my colleagues,” Dr Mosisili said.
“Avoid being drawn into politics or being affiliated with political parties by all means.”
While police officers were within their rights to vote for parties of their choice in the elections, he said, they could not be overtly partisan.
“It is clear then, that as citizens, you have a right to vote in the 3 June elections.
“However, your political party allegiances should be a secret and not be known publicly.”
The premier said they should vote for parties with the best policies for the country’s advancement.
“You don’t necessarily have to be a member of a political party to vote, but you should be attracted to the best campaign manifestos and policies.
“What a party promises when elected into government should be what determines your voting behaviour.”
Dr Mosisili said he previously heard allegations that some LMPS members were used by some political parties to buy votes from the electorate ahead of the 28 February 2015 general elections.
The prime minister said while he was not sure if the allegations were true or false, such conduct would not be tolerated.
“There is also something I heard that I don’t know if it is true or false. There are claims that in the February 2015 elections, some police officers were being used by certain political parties in vote buying,” he said.
“That claim, if it is true, would be very unfortunate and I stand here to condemn such acts with all honesty.”
Dr Mosisili stressed that politicians also didn’t have a right to buy votes.
The issue of vote buying has of late come into focus after the Independent Electoral Commission Tribunal found Communications Minister and Democratic Congress (DC) candidate for Malingoaneng constituency, Serialong Qoo, guilty of vote buying during the elections period.
Mr Qoo had donated 33 computers to Mapholaneng Primary and High Schools in the same constituency located in Mokhotlong district on 13 March 2017.
All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane has also been accused of vote buying after he donated various basic commodities to 35 elderly and disabled people in Mohale’s Hoek last week.
“Even a politician does not have a right to buy the people’s votes,” Dr Mosisili said.
“It is worse if committed by a police officer. I hope I have been loud and clear enough and this issue will not surface again.”