HUMAN rights body, Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and the Lesotho National Broadcasting Services (LNBS) yesterday hosted a debate for 10 of the political parties contesting the 7 October 2022 elections.
According to TRC executive director, Tsikoane Peshoane, the participating parties were selected through a poll on his organisation’s website. Voters in the poll decided which parties they wanted to see in the debate.
The poll started on Friday and ended on Tuesday. The leading parties were the All Basotho Convention (ABC), African Ark (AA), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho Action Party (BAP), Basotho National Party (BNP), Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP), Democratic Congress (DC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) and Yearn for Economic Sustainability (YES).
Those who participated in the debate were ABC leader Nkaku Kabi, AA leader Thabo Thelingoane, AD deputy leader Ntoi Rapapa, BAP leader Nqosa Mahao, BPP leader Tefo Mapesela, BNP leader Machesetsa Mofomobe, LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing, RFP founding member Tlohang Sekhamane and YES leader Molefi Ntonyane.
However, the DC was a no show, and it was not explained why the party was not represented.
Each of the party representatives had to randomly pick a topic from the basket on stage and then make a five-minute presentation.
After their presentation, each representative was asked questions by a four-member panel consisting of Booi Mohapi from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Limpho Libaba from the TRC, Mosaletsana Moshoeshoe from Lesotho Institute of Accountants and Lesotho’s former ambassador to the United States (US) Kelebone Maope. Below were the leaders’ presentations and responses.
Mr Mofomobe (BNP) on national reforms:
The reforms are crucial. We expect that the incoming government will finalise them.
The reforms are intended to bring political stability to Lesotho. It is my hope that the next government will prioritise reforms and finalise them within their first 100 days in office.
One of the issues that caused problems between the National Assembly and the Senate was that we (National Assembly) were accused of removing some of the public’s demands. However, some of the issues were impracticable. For example, people wanted more power for the King, which is wrong. Involving the King in politics will tarnish his image.
Mr Thelingoane (AA) on misappropriation of public funds by the government
The cabinet is bloated.
An AA government will have only six ministries. These will be run by principal secretaries and others can just be departments.
The Accountant General should be given more authority to control the government purse not for him or her to report to a principal secretary.
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) should also be given more power and resources to eradicate corruption.
Mr Ntsonyane (YES) on income from state resources
The Lesotho Highlands Water Treaty needs to be revised.
Minerals like diamonds should be processed and sold from Lesotho.
“Royalties from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project are paid into the Central Bank of Lesotho and not the Consolidated Fund. We must ask the government how that money is used.
The country’s diamonds are exported in their raw state whereas they must be cut and polished here at home. A YES government will establish a Lesotho Diamond Exchange where the precious stones will be auctioned.
Companies in which the government has shares have on several occasions claimed that they are operating at a loss. Why are they still operating if they are making losses? We need auditors to scrutinise their books.
Mr Sekhamane (RFP) on public debt
It is irresponsible for the government to borrow money if it is not going to be used for projects to boost the economy.
Money should not be borrowed if it will not be invested in profit making fields. The government must consult the relevant departments before borrowing. Finance experts should monitor and control public debt.
The RFP is led by a business tycoon, Sam Maketane. We are confident that he will elevate our economy.
Mr Mapesela (BPP) on health
Health is not limited to the medical field but also to ensure that people are well fed too.
Every Mosotho has a right to life. Our vision as BPP is to prioritise the welfare of the elderly and children.
We must also capacitate health facilities and bring services close to the people. We cannot continue to have health professionals skipping the country for better life.
We must prioritise the education, health and agricultural sectors.
Professor Mahao (BAP) on government parastatals
Officials of government parastatals should serve national interests.
Most parastatals have lost their way because they are under the influence of politicians. Their policies must be revisited so that we can capacitate those that will grow the economy and abolish redundant ones.
We want to remove the political hand in the appointments of parastatals’ boards. The salaries of the parastatals’ officers are more than four times those of the executive and that must be reviewed too.
Professor Rapapa (AD) on governance, lawlessness and cabinet
Politicians should be harshly punished for breaking the law to set an example for all.
We have laws but the problem is that they only apply to the less fortunate. We should all be equal before the law. However, politicians should receive stiffer penalties for breaking the law because they are the gatekeepers. The national reforms have taken so long because of poor administration.
An AD government will set up police stations in every constituency. Each will have at least two cars.
Serious offences such as murder should not be bailable. We will ensure that the wheels of justice turn faster by capacitating the courts with more human resources and decentralising the High Court.
Mr Metsing (LCD) on international relations
The LCD intends to strengthen bilateral relations between Lesotho and South Africa.
Our diplomats should also be appointed on merit irrespective of political affiliation.
We must capacitate the Foreign Affairs and International Relations ministry so that those on foreign missions can harness opportunities which will benefit Basotho. The deployment policy should also be clear.
Mr Kabi (ABC) on farming
More efforts and resources should be put into agriculture to sustain the country.
Our country has arable land of about 1 270 000 acres which must be ploughed.
An ABC government will ensure that M500 million is set aside to buy fertilisers and seeds.
Our security sector needs to be capacitated with skills to deal crime.