PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Economic and Political Advisor, Dr Fako Likoti, has accused the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD) of luring youths with alcohol to garner political support.
Dr Likoti has also criticised the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for continuing to register more political parties without interrogating where they get their funding.
Addressing a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) rally held on Sunday in Maseru, Dr Likoti said youths were being abused by “power-hungry people” for their political ends in apparent reference to Mr Moleleki whose AD was officially launched a day before in Masowe.
Held amid pomp and fanfare, the AD rally featured a host of local and South African entertainers with the stated intention of attracting young people.
Mr Moleleki formed the AD late last year after failing to dislodge Dr Mosisili from the helm of the Democratic Congress (DC) during a protracted leadership tussle. Following Mr Moleleki in exiting the DC was the bulk of the party’s national executive committee, youth and women’s leagues.
Apart from the party leadership fight between Dr Mosisili and Mr Moleleki, the DC fissured around a government vehicle fleet tender which was controversially awarded to Bidvest Bank Limited.
A faction aligned to Mr Moleleki, dubbed Lirurubele (butterflies), accused members of Lithope (girlfriends) – which was linked to Dr Mosisili – of corruptly influencing the awarding of the deal in the South African firm’s favour. Their ire was mainly directed at then Finance Minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla, whom they accused of disregarding due process in awarding the tender to Bidvest at the expense of joint venture company, Lebelonyane, that had been recommended for the contract.
Dr Khaketla, who has since been reshuffled to the Foreign Affairs portfolio, has vehemently denied allegations of corruption and demanded M6 million from her accusers, AD Youth League President Thuso Litjobo and Secretary-General Letuka Chafotsa, as compensation for the “defamatory statements”.
Dr Likoti said the people left the party because they were “tenderpreneurs” who had a stake in one of the companies that applied for the vehicle fleet tender.
He also scoffed at Mr Moleleki’s call for national unity, saying it was ruse to ingratiate himself with voters after “failing to win the tender”.
“I find it funny to hear some people squealing at the top of their voices all over the place saying they are uniting Basotho, whereas in actual fact they are bitter for having lost their tender bids,” said Dr Likoti.
“When these tenderpreneurs lost the Bidvest tender bid, they left their party in anger because they had paid huge bribes. They are now lying about unifying Basotho. Whoever said that Basotho were divided?
“It is good that they left because we are now clean. They are thieves and tenderpreneurs, so Basotho don’t need that. They can’t be stealing other people’s monies and claim to be unifying Basotho.”
He said the Congress movement was the only political ideology that still respected Basotho and “has all that is required to develop Lesotho and its people”.
“We are the only movement that still knows respect and can assure that our youths are raised well and not dragged to booze parties,” the premier’s advisor said.
“Our sisters and kids dance naked and drunk in the streets and one wonders why this is happening. What are we doing about it? These are evident rotten fruits from a rotten tree.
“The prime minister and his deputy (Mothetjoa Metsing) are always insulted in the media, on radio stations and in newspapers. This means that, as the Congress movement, we have lot to do.”
Dr Likoti also directed his ire at the IEC, which he accused of failing to scrutinize the “mushrooming” political parties in the country and merely registering them. Lesotho has 25 registered political parties.
“Political parties are mushrooming at an alarming rate and this only leaves me questioning whether the IEC is still doing its job, which includes finding where parties get their funding. The IEC should be taken to task,” Dr Likoti, who is also a former IEC commissioner added.
Commenting on the remarks, Mr Litjobo said they indeed left the DC because of impropriety by some party officials in the Bidvest deal.
“Likoti is partly right that we left the DC because of a tender gone bad. But what he should know is that we could not stand being part of such a corrupt government.
“We would rather stay hungry than get rich because of corrupt activities. If we are thieves as he claims, then he is also a thief. If he knows that we are corrupt, he should do something about it because he used to be a policeman.”
Mr Litjobo said he found it surprising that Dr Likoti now portrayed himself as a stalwart of the Congress movement, yet he was a Basotho National Party (BNP) supporter in his youth.
“Likoti is a member of the BNP and has always been since his youth. He now identifies himself as a Congress movement member because he now works in the prime minister’s office,” he aaded
Also commenting on the remarks by the premier’s advisor IEC Commissioner, Advocate ’Mamosebi Pholo, said: “We have no right to demand from parties to reveal their sources of income especially when it is not the campaign period.
“According to the electoral laws, parties should declare their income if they have used more than M250 000 during their campaigns. We are mandated with registering parties as long as they are registered with the law office and have a database of 500 eligible voters.”
Advocate Pholo also indicated that there was nothing wrong with parties giving away promotional material like t-shirts “as long as it is not during the electoral period”.
“This is a democratic country and the IEC can register as many parties as it can so long as they are within the law,” she said.