THE leader of the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Mothetjoa Metsing, says in the event of the collapse of the Thomas Thabane administration, his party will not support snap elections because recent history has shown that they are not the best way to resolve Lesotho’s governance challenges.
Mr Metsing said that without constitutional reforms to clearly spell out how coalitions should function, they would continue to fail. Mr Metsing said this while addressing a weekend rally in the Mechachane constituency in the Butha-Buthe district.
His remarks came against the background of the infighting between the All Basotho Convention (ABC’s) old and new national executive committees (NECs) which have fuelled widespread speculation that the almost two year-old governing coalition could soon collapse and precipitate fresh national polls.
The LCD was part of the first coalition with Dr Thabane’s ABC and Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP) from 2012 to 2015. It was also part of the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition from 2015 to 2017. Mr Metsing then went into self-imposed exile in August 2017 alleging that there was a government plot to assassinate him. The government however, denied his claims and claimed that he had fled from possible corruption charges. He only returned to the country last December in the aftermath of deal that was brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to enable him and other opposition leaders to participate in the multi-sector reforms process.
In 2016, SADC recommended that Lesotho should undertake constitutional, security sector, judicial, media and governance reforms to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country.
And on Sunday, Mr Metsing said that without constitutional reforms to clearly spell out how the coalition governments should function, the next coalition government would still go the way of its 2012, 2015 and 2017 predecessors .
“The LCD’s national executive committee has instructed me to tell you that the LCD is against this practice of constantly going for elections,” Mr Metsing said on Sunday.
“Just after the 2015 elections, Lesotho was thrown into a crisis and Ntate Thabane and others fled the country and that happened to us as well after the 2017 elections. We are therefore saying that constantly going for elections before a government completes its lawful five year term is not helping us in a way but it only brings instability.”
He said that Lesotho needed to amend the constitution to respond to the challenges of coalition governments and ensure their stability.
“Now this is my question for those Basotho who want us to go for elections now: what is there to guarantee peace and stability after the elections? What is there to ensure to ensure that the government that will be formed after the elections will be stable when the previous governments have not tasted stability?
“This is our third coalition government and we are still experiencing the same instability. We are therefore saying let us first go for reforms and complete that exercise in all honesty, not this route that we have taken which is not really inclusive.
“We are just here to greet you and thank God for saving our lives and these rallies have nothing to do with campaigning for elections. I need to make it clear to you that we are not holding rallies in preparation for elections. If other parties push us to go for elections, we will have no other option but to go for elections. However, the LCD’s standpoint is clear that going for elections will be only a waste of money when the status quo still remains the same. We cannot go for elections when we have not addressed constitutional challenges facing this country because the next government will still be a coalition.
“No one in their right mind thinks the next elections will produce a one-party government akin to that of the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) under late Ntsu Mokhehle or the LCD from 1992 to 2007. If we go for elections next week, the elections will still produce a coalition government and peace and stability will still be lacking in this country. What good will come out of those elections?
“Let us put laws in place before we go for elections to ensure that the next government will be stable. The end result after the elections should be peace and stability. That peace and stability should translate into a positive change in the lives of Basotho. We cannot go on with the business-as-usual attitude of going to elections, repeatedly electing members of parliament and settling their M500 000 interest-free loans after every two years. That would mean that each legislator would have pocketed M1 million in four years- money they would not have worked for.”
Mr Metsing further said that the decline in the LCD’s political fortunes in recent years had been a chastising experience.
“You and I were once governing this country and during that time there were many heavily armed people guarding me. We were strong but God humbled us.
“God humbled us in order to teach us a lesson. He taught us a lesson that when we think we are strong, it is when we are at our weakest and we are only at our strongest with God at our side. When we fled this country we were very weak and we did not know how to support ourselves,” Mr Metsing said.
The former deputy prime minister fled the country in August 2017, citing a government plot to assassinate him. However, the government dismissed his claims and suggested that he had fled to escape prosecution for alleged corruption. He subsequently returned to the country in December 2018 after a SADC brokered deal to enable him and other opposition leaders to participate in the multi-sector reforms process.