- youthful opposition leader readies DC for snap elections
DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader Mathibeli Mokhothu, says he cannot wait for the much-anticipated re-opening of parliament on 18 October 2019 so that he can topple Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in a no confidence vote.
The youthful leader of the country’s biggest opposition and also the official leader of the opposition in parliament said this while addressing hundreds of DC delegates at the party’s leadership conference at St Cecilia-Kananelo Centre for the Deaf in Berea over the weekend.
Mr Mokhothu’s DC joined forces with the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) to file a no confidence motion against Dr Thabane in June 2019.
However, parliament was closed indefinitely before the motion was voted upon. Although no reason was given for the closure of parliament, it is widely believed that this was done to give Dr Thabane time to address the infighting within his ABC which culminated in the Mahao camp filing the no confidence motion and proposing the ABC’s Samuel Rapapa as caretaker prime minister.
Although Mr Mokhothu’s DC supports the Mahao camp’s motion and its proposal for Mr Rapapa to take over as premier, the youthful opposition leader believes that Dr Thabane would rather advise His Majesty King Letsie III to call for fresh elections than simply relinquish power.
Consequently, the opposition leader convened the weekend leadership conference to prepare the DC for possible elections. Delegates drawn from the DC’s national executive committee (NEC), women’s and youth leagues as well as constituency committees attended the three day conference which got underway on Friday and ends today with a rally.
Delivering his keynote address at the conference, Mr Mokhothu appealed for unity so that the party can achieve an outright victory whenever the elections are held.
He accused the Thabane regime of impoverishing the country while rewarding its loyalists with lucrative contracts.
“This government has done so many bad things,” Mr Mokhothu said.
“They need to be given a break (voted out) because they have gone off track in all aspects. They are guilty of corruption, meddling in the affairs of the security agencies, fueling youth unemployment and the list is endless.
“We are an opposition party with a mandate to protect democracy. Hence we have filed a no confidence motion against the prime minister because we can’t sit back and watch when government derails. Come 18 October when parliament reopens, we will flex our muscles.
“I cannot wait to see the audacity of men and women (legislators) who will vote for this government to remain in place at the expense of the people. When their names are called and I shall be a happy man because the people shall know who to vote for (in the next elections).
“I have called you (to the DC conference) so that we can build our party in order for us to outrightly win the upcoming elections so that we can form a government on our own. We need to get the numbers so that we don’t have to forge a coalition with other parties.
“But even if we form a coalition, it should not be because we are forced to, but only because we understand one another and we want to work together.
“I am saying this because we have all seen the weaknesses that come with coalitions. They don’t last and this is something we have seen since the first coalition in 2012.
“This is why I am calling on the electorate to refrain from this patchwork of parties and give their votes to one party (the DC) which shall restore peace and economic development. We have seen that coalitions give opportunists an advantage over Basotho through the set-up of the cabinet which is normally bloated to reward loyalists,” Mr Mokhothu said.
He said since their elective conference in January 2019, they had implemented their programme of holding 91 rallies in 63 constituencies countrywide.
“Now that we have managed to do this and recruit masses into our fold it is very clear that DC is going to win the upcoming elections which are just around the corner. I appeal to you to work within our set time frames because failure to do so will be costly.
“If at all there is any government that has plunged this country into poverty, it is this current one. We are totally against the way it does things. It has plunged the wool and mohair business into a quandary through its corrupt activities and made the farmers poor. We promise to reverse this situation once we get into power.
“We will investigate the wool and mohair saga and we shall take appropriate measures. We can’t allow people to be deprived of their money just like that, we won’t leave these people (current governing coalition) to do as they please.”
He also accused the government of “toying around” with the future of Basotho by punishing striking teachers through salary deductions.
“They have also decided to punish teachers for demanding that their welfare issues to be addressed. The DC supports teachers and demands that their grievances be addressed. The government has to engage teachers before deducting money from their salaries. I advise teachers to take this government to court and challenge its decision not to pay their full salaries. I swear their (government) case won’t hold water. They paid those who were not working during the strike and failed to pay those who worked. It’s a mess and one wonders how they are going to come out of it. I know of three teachers who have since died because of stress due to this decision not to effect payments.
“Not so long ago police demanded salary increments and after they paid them they then issued them with letters demanding that they show cause why they should not be fired. We will end up having rebels because these (police who are threatened with dismissal) are trained people. Firing them will not help in any way because after losing their jobs they will engage in criminal activities.
“This meddling with security institutions should stop immediately. We need rule of law. Police brutality should also be stopped and all those who implicated should be dealt with,” Mr Mokhothu said.