Moroke Sekoboto | ’Marafaele Mohloboli
ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Nkaku Kabi, has pleaded with the electorate to vote for him to enable him to fulfill ABC founding leader and former Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane’s dream of fully developing the country.
Among other things, Mr Kabi said if elected, his government would prioritise the transformation from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Not only would government support for the agricultural sector help boost food security in a country that is heavily dependent on foreign aid to avert famine, it would also turn Lesotho into a self-reliant nation that would no longer need to import food from South Africa, Mr Kabi said.
He said this while addressing thousands of ABC supporters in Lower Thetsane for the party’s final rally before tomorrow’s much-anticipated general elections.
The Sunday crowd was probably the biggest the ABC has mustered since its highly divisive February 2019 elective conference which saw the election of former deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, against the will of then leader Thabane. The latter had opposed Prof Mahao’s election, labelling him a political novice who should not have been chosen ahead of seasoned party stalwarts.
Mr Thabane’s stance sparked a power struggle with Prof Mahao, who at the time, had the support of the majority of national executive committee (NEC) members. Prof Mahao ultimately prevailed and forced Mr Thabane out of power in May 2020. A new Moeketsi Majoro led governing coalition in partnership with the Mathibeli Mokhothu-led Democratic Congress (DC) was inaugurated.
Mr Kabi had then pledged allegiance to Dr Majoro and joined the latter’s cabinet. The two subsequently fell out and engaged in their own power struggle after the ABC NEC voted to recall Dr Majoro and replace him with Mr Kabi. The ouster plan did not succeed.
Mr Kabi subsequently beat Dr Majoro in the January 2022 election to succeed Mr Thabane who had retired as party leader. After that victory, Mr Kabi’s bid to oust Dr Majoro in a parliamentary no confidence vote also flopped in March 2022. Despite Mr Kabi’s subsequent announcement that the two had made peace and would jointly campaign, Dr Majoro refrained from attending ABC campaign rallies. He was again conspicuous by his absence at the Sunday rally in Thetsane.
Messrs Kabi and Thabane are nonetheless singing from the same hymn book. Mr Thabane attended the Sunday rally and urged party supporters to turn out in their thousands to give the ABC a resounding victory at tomorrow’s polls.
Mr Thabane said if elected, an ABC government would “continue its work of fighting poverty to ensure the wellbeing of all Basotho”.
“We are again facing elections and I urge you to go out in large numbers and vote for the ABC. By voting for this party, you will be voting for good governance and a corruption-free government which strives for economic growth,” Mr Thabane said to a thunderous applause from the multitudes.
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On his part, Mr Kabi promised to continue from where Mr Thabane had left off and fulfill the latter’s vision for a prosperous and stable Lesotho.
He promised government support to ensure the growth of a vibrant commercial agricultural sector.
His government would also capacitate the health sector to enable major operations to be done locally. This would help cut huge spending due to referrals of patients to South Africa and other countries, he said.
“We’re losing a lot of money through referrals. We intend to adequately equip our hospitals as well as capacitate our doctors and nurses to offer key services locally to stop the drain on our resources,” Mr Kabi said.
“An ABC government will also prioritise the welfare of civil servants by improving their working conditions. We will give them the necessary resources to eliminate all bottlenecks to efficient service delivery. We will ensure that there is job satisfaction to enable them to fully serve the nation.
“We are also committed to improving conditions for workers outside the civil service. To that end, we’ve been engaging trade unions to find ways of solving challenges faced by workers,” Mr Kabi said.
He said his government would improve the salaries and working conditions of members of the security agencies to enable them to focus on their mandates of fighting crime, preserving law and order as well as defending the territorial integrity of the country.
As he has often done at his rallies, Mr Kabi acknowledged the presence and contribution of Famo gang leader, Sarele ‘Lehlanya’ Sello, and his faction to the ABC.
Mr Sello had earlier been given the platform to address the crowd and he bemoaned what he said were negative, stereotypical perceptions of Famo musicians and their followers who were often seen as illiterate and blood-thirsty criminals.
Referencing Mr Sello’s speech, Mr Kabi said, “Ntate Lehlanya, I listened carefully while you were addressing the people”.
“I pray day and night that God helps all Basotho who are discriminated against because of their lack of formal education. They (Famo musicians) have musical talents which are not benefiting them. Sometimes they engage in crime, doing our dirty work just to put food on their tables.
“We’ll make sure that these people are empowered to get jobs in Lesotho so that they don’t go to South Africa’s abandoned mines to seek a living,” Mr Kabi said.
Other top party members who graced the rally were secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, and Mr Thabane’s wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane. Ms Thabane is a first-time parliamentary candidate. She will be hoping to wrest the Mokhotlong seat from former Thabane favourite, Tefo Mapesela, who dumped the ABC last year to form his own Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP).
The presence of Samuel Rapapa, who chaired the proceedings, is an indication that the outgoing Communications, Science and Technology minister has mended fences with Mr Kabi. He was suspended from his party post as chairperson earlier this year and barred from chairing ABC meetings. This as punishment for refusing to support Mr Kabi’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to oust Prime Minister Majoro. Mr Rapapa will also be seeking re-election in Mosalemane constituency.
Dr Majoro’s absence however is a clear indication that the premier and Mr Kabi have not buried their differences despite the latter’s claims to that effect. In fact, Mr Kabi no longer makes any references to the prime minister.