MAPUTSOE — Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader, Joang Molapo, has launched a broadside at deputy prime minister and LCD leader, Mothejoa Metsing, sensationally accusing him of not accounting for M20 million of the M53 million allocated for developmental projects at the Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs Ministry which Mr Metsing heads.
Chief Molapo claimed that the money had been allocated to facilitate development projects for communities under the stewardship of Mr Metsing but a huge chunk of it had vanished.
“Mr Metsing has to tell the nation what happened to the remaining M20 million,” Chief Molapo said, also taking a swipe at Mr Metsing for not wanting to appear before local judges over the corruption charges raised against him.
Mr Metsing stands accused of receiving kickbacks from a company awarded a lucrative roads construction project by a local authority that falls under his jurisdiction. After being asked by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to explain the source of large amounts of cash deposits into his account, Mr Metsing opted to go to court claiming his constitutional rights had been violated. But he refused to have the case heard by local judges accusing them of bias.
“He wants to be the prime minister of this country but does not want to stand trial before local judges,” remarked Chief Molapo.
Contacted to comment on Chief Molapo’s allegations, LCD Acting Secretary General Tšeliso Mokhosi, dismissed them as being “typical of how the BNP operates by not telling the truth.”
Chief Molapo, who is also Home Affairs Minister, made the accusations against Mr Metsing at a rally in Maputsoe this week.
He also blamed the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) for the coalition government’s failure to deliver on its promises to the nation.Chief Molapo said the coalition government did all it could to deliver on its promises to the nation but the DC had always “stood in the way of progress”.
“We tried our best to deliver services to the expected standards but the DC would always thwart our progress,” Chief Molapo said.
“They hindered our plans because they did not want the nation to know the truth.
“We had planned to give the elderly M800 within five years and that milestone looked to be achievable. However, we were not able to deliver because of the opposition.”
He said the coalition government had, within a year of coming to power, managed to review civil servants’ salaries while the previous administration had “never cared about their plight.”
He said the BNP was the only party with a manifesto which could deliver what Basotho most needed.
The previous regime, Chief Molapo added, which came to power in 1993 had retarded economic growth, yet “every person in Lesotho could see the strides made by the coalition government in resuscitating the economy within two years”.
He accused the previous congress administration of changing every institution which bore the name “national”.
“For instance, the National Teachers Training College (NTTC) was changed to Lesotho College of Education (LCE), and they were on the verge to changing the National University of Lesotho (NUL),” said Chief Molapo.
“All they want to do is to destroy national developmental projects. We no longer have a development bank in this country, and all the initiatives (BNP founder) Chief Leabua Jonathan established have been destroyed,” he said.Initiatives such as irrigation projects launched under the Jonathan administration, Chief Molapo said, had been left to fall apart by congress administrations.
“Where is the Hololo, Phuthiatsana, Khomo-khoana and Masianokeng agricultural projects to mention but a few, all those were destroyed by the previous government,” he said.
According to Mr Molapo, irrigation projects had been identified as an important tool to stimulate economic growth and rural development as well as being the cornerstone of food security and poverty reduction in the country.
“These congress people heavily rely on rain-fed agriculture which sometimes does not bear sustainable results because, during periods of variable rainfall and recurrent droughts, the agriculture sector suffers resulting in adverse consequences on the economy of the country,” Chief Molapo said.
He said the BNP’s foes came up with a no-confidence motion in parliament against their coalition government partner, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, “because they (the premier’s enemies) did not want people to know how corrupt they are.”
“All they want is to get off scot-free after looting public funds and, thus, hinder the country’s development and economic growth,” Chief Molapo said.
Mr Mokhosi, the LCD acting secretary-general, has since launched a tirade against Chief Molapo over the latter’s virtual accusations that Mr Metsing had stolen the M20 million earmarked for development projects.
“His comments are typical of a BNP member who does not tell the nation the truth and does not even understand government operations,” Mr Mokhosi, who is also Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs minister, said.
“There is no way a minister can be given such a large amount of money, since there are channels in the transfer of government funds to ministries. The funds are never deposited in the minister’s account.
“It clearly shows that Mr Molapo did not learn anything about government procedures in the past two and half years. He is telling people lies.”
On the issue of irrigation projects of which Chief Molapo accused congress parties of destroying, Mr Mokhosi said they are a good idea although the nationalist parties did not know how to implement them, adding that the congress parties would build water reservoirs if elected to power.
Mr Mokhosi further said contrary to Chief Molapo’s assertion that congress parties destroyed national developmental projects, “it was BNP members who destroyed state-owned enterprises and the Lesotho Agriculture Bank because they did not repay the loans they had taken”.