BROTHERS Samuel Rapapa of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Professor Ntoi Rapapa of the Alliance of Democrats (AD) are at each other’s throats again after the police stopped a horse racing competition in Mosalemane constituency on Sunday.
The brothers have been vying for control of the constituency currently held by Mr Rapapa.
The horse racing competition was stopped for contravening public health regulations prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people as part of efforts to fight the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Some of the pictures of the event, on social media platforms, show that way more than 50 people attended the event. There was also no social distancing among the crowd. Many did not even wear face masks which are now mandatory in public.
The event was partly sponsored by Prof Rapapa. It was stopped allegedly on the orders of Mr Rapapa who was last week appointed Local Government and Chieftaincy minister in the new ABC-led coalition.
Mr Rapapa has vehemently denied ordering the event to be stopped.
However, as the constituency’s current legislator, he said he ought to have been informed about it beforehand. But he only became aware of the event when some people began “abusing me” on social media.
Mr Rapapa accuses Prof Rapapa of underhanded tactics in his quest to wrestle the constituency from him.
“The truth of the matter is that I didn’t give any instruction to the police,” Mr Rapapa said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
“I repeat, I didn’t instruct the police to go and disperse the crowd.
“I only came to know about the event when some people started insulting me on different media platforms,” he said, adding he was not a coward to hide behind the police to fight his political battles.
The brothers have been at each other’s throats particularly after Mr Rapapa beat Prof Rapapa (his younger brother) in the June 2017 elections to become the Mosalemane legislator. Mr Rapapa is the ABC chairperson while Prof Rapapa is deputy leader of the AD which until a fortnight ago, was in a four-party coalition with the ABC, Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
The Thomas Thabane-led four party coalition collapsed on 11 May 2020 after the ABC, BNP and RCL informed the speaker of parliament of their termination of the coalition. The ABC then formed a new government with the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) as its coalition partner. The coalition is supported by the BNP, RCL, Movement for Economic Change, Popular Front for Democracy, Basotho Congress Party, National Independent Party, Marematlou Freedom Party and Democratic Party of Lesotho.
The AD, which had stood by Mr Thabane as he resisted his own party’s attempts to oust him, made last minute attempts to join the new coalition but was rebuffed by the ABC.
The elder Rapapa is having the last laugh after he was appointed local government minister by new Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro who took over as Prime Minister last week.
Prof Rapapa was Education and Training Minister in the previous regime. His ministry built four schools in Mosalemane in that time. Mr Rapapa had then described the move as a vote-buying stunt by his brother. He repeated the accusation this week. He said unlike his younger brother, he fought “a fair political game” and would not use his new cabinet post to further his personal political interests.
“I am not one to hide behind anyone when I am fighting. I cannot use the police to fight my political battles. This is just a smear campaign peddled by people who are finding it hard to win a political fight. The political game is wearing too heavily on their shoulders and they want to peddle some cheap political propaganda against me.
“To show that I fight a fair game, I openly said my brother was trying to buy the electorate when he built schools in my constituency. I never sent people to say that on my behalf. I said it myself. I am not a hypocrite …I fight fairly.”
In a separate interview, Prof Rapapa said he has sponsored many events in the constituency including the Sunday horse racing competition.
“I agreed to be part of the sponsors for the horse racing competition,” Prof Rapapa said. He however indicated that he was later on Sunday informed that the competition was cancelled at the instruction of the police.
He said he heard allegations that someone pulled the strings and ordered the police to disperse the crowd despite pleadings from the organisers that they would adhere to sections of the Public Health Regulations.
“However, I cannot substantiate those allegations but I have been told that heavily armed police officers dispersed the crowd on Sunday. Ntate Rapapa is my blood brother. He defeated me in the past election edition and I congratulated him.
“We are good. Unless the Sunday matter meant something that I am not aware of us, I reckon we are in a good political space; that is if there was nothing untoward from the Sunday issue,” Prof Rapapa said.
Reacting on allegations that he was trying to buy elections by building schools in the constituency, Prof Rapapa said he was simply acting on the concerns raised by the World Bank report.
He said the said World Bank report suggested that Mosalemane was the poorest constituency in Lesotho. He indicated that he was closely working with his brother as Mosalemane legislator during the processes of schools construction.
“If that is making some people to lose sleep at night, that is not my business because I was simply doing what was expected of me as then minister of education. It is therefore not true that I was trying to buy elections.
“I have never slept on any assignment all my life and I was not about to do that during my ministerial portfolios. However, I know for a fact that there were serious complaints (from ABC) that AD ministers were using their ministerial portfolios to build themselves and that is a misplaced complaint,” Prof Rapapa said.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli denied stopping the horse racing competition on the orders of Mr Rapapa. He said the police acted on a tip-off by anonymous sources that there was going to be a horse racing competition. They went to the venue to ensure that public health regulations were not violated.