QEME –– All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, on Sunday said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was not a neutral arbiter in the dispute over the proportional representation seats.
Thabane told a poorly attended rally in Qeme constituency that the IEC’s neutrality was questionable as it was favouring the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
“(The) IEC should apply the power bestowed upon it by parliament and the constitution to straighten out issues,” Thabane said.
Lesotho was thrown into political turmoil in 2007 following a dispute over the allocation of PR seats.
Former Botswana president, Sir Ketumile Masire, was appointed to mediate between the opposition and the government.
But Masire abruptly quit the talks last month accusing the government of throwing spanners into the dialogue process.
The opposition claims the IEC erred when it allocated 21 seats to an alliance of the LCD and the smaller National Independent Party (NIP).
The opposition wants the IEC to re-allocate the seats.
Thabane said the LCD had stolen the PR seats which rightfully belonged to them.
“It is our constitutional right to fight for what no man has the right to deprive us of,” Thabane said.
Thabane told the small enthusiastic crowd that the IEC must be independent and professional in its approach to the dispute.
“Judging by the way the IEC conducts itself, it is apparent the commission works hand in hand with the ruling party,” Thabane said.
“(The) IEC should cease from being biased. The PR issue stinks of discrimination.”
Thabane accused the ruling party of abusing government property during election time.
He said this had given the LCD an unfair advantage over opposition parties.
Thabane said the IEC should refrain from conducting elections under such conditions.
“Our solemn plea to IEC is that it refrains from conducting such elections. We are not asking for help to win elections. That we can achieve on our own,” said Thabane.
Thabane however expressed hope that ongoing talks between the government and the opposition will yield positive results.
The two sides were due to meet yesterday in an effort to find a solution to the dispute.
“Since the talks are being conducted with the guidance of church leaders, I hope they will be inspired by the Word of God and that the outcome will be satisfactory to all involved,” Thabane said.
The ABC leader said it was his vision to see a Lesotho free from discrimination, which ensures that there is “equality for all”.
“We need a Lesotho where peace reigns and equality is the order of the day not a country where the government abuses state machinery to victimise people.
“The LCD government is forever on a witch-hunt, stooping so low as to persecute those who go against it,” Thabane said.
Thabane claimed that some members of his party had been victimised by state agents “while others were forced to flee the LCD’s blazing spear”.
He did not substantiate these allegations.
“In some cases the LCD uses state resources to hire foreign lawyers to stand a good chance of thrashing citizens in our courts of law,” said Thabane.
Thabane accused the government of milking people dry through high taxes “instead of putting money back into their pockets”.
He said the government could use its water resources to bring down the current heavy taxes imposed on people.
“The annual income of M250 million generated by the sale of water and other natural resources is supposed to be used to help people and ease the burden of taxes on people,” Thabane said.
He said the government had failed to fight crime.
“The only way we can rid Lesotho of crime is by getting our children off the streets by offering them education,” Thabane said.
Thabane said ABC supporters who felt the party was becoming a burden “should quit”.
“ABC is worth working for. Whoever feels the party is becoming a burden can do the noble thing of packing up and leaving,” Thabane said.
Thabane said he was confident that in the 2012 elections the ABC would secure a landslide victory.
“We are taking over this administration,” said Thabane.
Methotja Metsing, who is the Minister of Communications and chief government spokesman, could not be reached for comment on Thabane’s allegations.