Two popular Maputsoe politicians, `Mampho Mokhele and Nthekeleng Mofolo, dumped their respective parties and joined the All Basotho Convention (ABC) during a rally held in Ha Mathata on Friday.
Ms Mokhele was a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Member of Parliament (MP) in the recently dissolved 8th Parliament, while Ms Mofolo represented the National Independent Party (NIP) in the same legislature.
An estimated 400 people who support the duo also joined the ABC at the rally which was graced by party leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane.
In his address, Dr Thabane said the two politicians would help strengthen the ABC and ensure the party wins the Maputsoe constituency in next February’s snap election. Lesotho is holding an early election after the ABC, LCD and Basotho National Party (BNP) coalition government which came to power in June 2012, collapsed due to a power-struggle between Dr Thabane and LCD leader, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing. Mediation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) resulted in the various party leaders agreeing to go for an election on 28 February 2015, and Dr Thabane told the Ha Mathata rally that the ABC was “more than ready” for the poll.
“We welcome you ladies; your being in the ABC now is almost like coming home,” he said. “The ABC is more than ready for the election and we are confident of winning the poll. In fact, February is late for us; even if we were to go for the election this very weekend, the ABC would surely win because we have the support of the people.”
Dr Thabane urged the two outgoing MPs and their supporters to work hard in building the ABC, and also said they should join him in his anti-corruption crusade.
“We, in the ABC, are totally against corruption and whoever comes to join us must be willing to help us fight this disease,” Dr Thabane said.
“There are many corrupt people in this country; some are top government officials, others respectable men going around in very expensive suits and cars. But I can assure you that wherever they might be, we are going after them. We will not rest until corruption is completely eradicated from our society.”
On her part, Ms Mokhele told the rally that she would serve the ABC in whatever capacity. “I stand here to let you know my heart is now with the ABC. I already feel very much at home in this party,” she said.
A former police officer, Ms Mokhele said she spent her entire working life fighting crime and joining the ABC would give her an opportunity to join the premier’s crusade against corruption.
Ms Mofolo, who told the Sunday Express that she left NIP due to differences with the party’s leadership, said she hoped to continue serving the people of Maputsoe. She was in parliament through Proportional Representation (PR) but enjoys immense support in Maputsoe.
“For a long time, things were not going well between me and the party’s leadership. We did not see eye-to-eye on policy issues and our stance in parliament.
“The situation came to a point where I no longer felt welcomed in the party and chose to leave and join the ABC.”
According to Ms Mofolo, the NIP reached an executive decision to support the coalition government, but the leadership had reneged on this promise.
“It felt like NIP had abandoned the true teaching of our former leader, the late Vincent Manyeli,” she said.
ABC Public Relations Officer for Maputsoe constituency, Lerata Konyana, told the Sunday Express at least 400 people had defected to the party that day.
“I can’t give you the exact figure because we are still registering them, but the figure is around 400. However, what I can tell you for sure is that most of them were `Mampho Mokhele’s supporters so they have left the LCD to join us,” Mr Konyana said.
Mr Konyana added he was confident the ABC was going to win Maputsoe constituency after losing it to Ms Mokhele in 2012. “We just need to iron out a few misunderstandings within the party and move on to the elections. But all in all, we are confident of winning the constituency this time around.”
Meanwhile, Friday’s defection was not received well by some ABC supporters, who felt the two were being given “preferential treatment. The disgruntled supporters told the Sunday Express that they would oppose any moves by the party to field either of them in the upcoming poll.
“I can foresee a situation where the party is going to give them special treatment and make them candidates in the upcoming election.
“But we will protest that decision if ever the leadership makes that mistake. These women are new in the party and according to the ABC constitution, they do not qualify to contest the elections. It would be grossly unfair on long-serving members who are going to be overlooked, should that happen,” said one of the ABC supporters, who refused to be named.