REVOLUTION for Prosperity (RFP) deputy leader, Nthomeng Majara, has denied allegations by aggrieved former party member, Tlohelang Aumane, that the party neither cared about its members nor addressed their grievances.
Mr Aumane is the outgoing Semena constituency legislator and former Development Planning minister. He made the allegations after losing in the RFP’s primary polls to choose candidates for the October elections. He lost to another former cabinet minister, Joshua Setipa. He then defected to the Teboho Mojapela-led Socialist Revolutionaries (SR).
As a parting short, Mr Aumane accused the RFP of ill-treating him and others during the primaries a fortnight ago.
“In my native Semena constituency for instance, there was an irregularity in that the votes cast were more than the number of people who actually voted. The constituency committee has ignored our complaints. I suspect they don’t care about people because they did not recruit any of us to their party,” Mr Aumane said.
He said prior to the announcement of the winners on Friday, all prospective candidates were invited for a meeting at a hotel in Maseru. They were supposed to have been informed of the results before they could be publicly announced, he said.
“But it turned out to be a waiting game and we only got the results together with the media and public. They led us to think all sorts of things. I guess they did not disclose the results in advance because they feared our reaction,” Mr Aumane said.
His allegations were rubbished by Ms Majara in a subsequent interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.
She said the party had taken care to engage everyone who was aggrieved by the outcome of the primaries. Mr Aumane was attended to by secretary general, Nthati Moorosi, and chairperson, Teboho Kobeli, she said.
“After losing the elections, he (Aumane) decided that it was his way or the highway despite efforts by prominent members of the RFP executive committee to hear him out,” Ms Majara said.
“There is a sub-committee tasked to address complaints arising from the primary elections. Ntate Aumane was not even number one in the primaries in his native Semena. But he was attended to by both the chairperson and the secretary general. The chairperson was gobsmacked by Ntate Aumane’s allegations that we don’t care about people’s grievances because he had been talking to him with a view to finding a solution. Ntate Aumane is not telling the truth when he says that RFP doesn’t care about people. It is wrong and I wish to put that on record.”
She said as a demonstration of their commitment to addressing members’ grievances, they also engaged other losing candidates who had addressed a press conference on Tuesday.
“On Tuesday, some members from different constituencies held a press conference. We later addressed them and responded to their questions. They fully understood the party position afterwards. They were reminded that the RFP was formed to revolutionise Lesotho politics.
“Had it not been for this reason (revolutionising politics), we’d have joined existing political parties. But we realised that there were serious problems that needed a different solution. That is why we told them that while we observe democratic principles, ours is a revolution.”
Ms Majara said the aggrieved members were also told that the process to choose candidates “was transparent from the beginning”.
“We reminded them that we sought guidance at the beginning of the primary elections. We asked the people to provide top four candidates from each of the 69 constituencies. We then enlisted services of experts to help us to select the right candidates. That was helpful in avoiding scenarios where people would point accusing fingers at others for choosing their favourites. We appointed a huge team of experts to interview over 200 candidates from the sixty-nine constituencies. They were the ones who helped us select candidates.
“Besides, before the elections, a circular was issued stipulating clearly how the process would unfold and at no point in time did anybody question its contents. Even before the results were announced, we had a meeting with candidates at Avani Maseru, where they all committed to supporting those who would be announced as winners,” Ms Majara said.
She said contrary to Mr Aumane’s claims they convened a meeting to counsel members before the announcement of the results, not to announce the final list of candidates.
“They all passed the interviews but unfortunately one person per constituency had to prevail above the rest. We gave them feedback from our experts about the intelligence and expertise they had discovered in our candidates. We told them that the experts had informed us that we had a rich crop of people whose expertise would come in handy when we become government.
“We told them that some will get other jobs because there would be a lot to be done in government. So, it doesn’t make sense for Ntate Aumane to say that he should never have bothered to attend the interviews. He is just angry with us hence he speaks ill of us. All that he has said about us is unfounded. He decided that it’s his way or the highway. I am sorry to say this. He has decided that since he did not make it here, he might as well go to another party. There is not much we can do. I beg him to stop speaking ill of the RFP. We do care about people and we know that we cannot govern unless Basotho elect us to power,” Ms Majara said.
Besides attacking the RFP executive, Mr Aumane had no kind words for Mr Setipa who defeated him in the primaries.
He said although Mr Setipa was born in Semena, he was “unknown there” as he had been raised in Khubetsoana.
“As we speak, he (Setipa) is not even in the country. He has been hiring people to help sell his candidature in the constituency. While he might have been born there, his family home is no longer there. He grew up in Khubetsoana. He is my cousin. Whatever votes he will get will be sympathy votes because his father was killed by the BNP government (in the 1980s).
“I had pledged that I would support him if I lose. But because of the chicanery that took place throughout the whole process, I have adopted a different stance. I can’t support him because I’d be supporting corruption,” Mr Aumane said.