THABA-TSEKA — Voters in Thaba-Tseka district say they are tired of politicians taking them for a ride with lofty promises during election campaigns which don’t materialise after they win the polls.
The villagers, who spoke to the Lesotho Times on the side-lines of a Alliance of Democrats (AD) rally held in Thabong I, Thaba-Tseka district, said they were expecting nothing short of delivery of the promises politicians were making while campaigning for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Basotho go to the polls on 3 June 2017 after the successful passing of a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government by a four-party opposition bloc on 1 March 2017.
Six days later, King Letsie III dissolved parliament and eventually proclaimed 3 June 2017 as election day.
Thabong I resident, Remaketse Selebeli, said even though he has been constantly told of the importance of voting, nothing had changed for the better in his life despite numerous elections over the years.
“This time around, I am not sure if I am going to vote for any political party,” Mr Selebeli said.
“After we vote for these politicians, they forget about us and provide jobs and opportunities to educated people while we continue to struggle.”
“As much as I am not educated, I possess skills that can benefit this country but we are always left out,” said the father of five who is a builder by profession.
“I think I need to focus on how I can fend for my family and not on politicians. Now they pretend to care about us because they need our votes.”
Mr Selebeli explained that people who were not politically-connected were constantly overlooked in the allocation of tenders and jobs provided by the government.
This was compounded, he said, by the very limited job opportunities for artisans in Thaba-Tseka district.
“I survive by getting temporary jobs and sometimes I have to find other means to eke out a living. It can take up to four months for a project or job opportunity to come up.
“There is a serious challenge of lack of opportunities which really needs to be addressed. To be honest, I haven’t yet encountered a politician who has tried to address some of these challenges.”
This was echoed by sheep farmer Tlohang Mpona who said politicians compounded the problems they were facing by giving them false hope that their challenges would be addressed.
Mr Mpona said the acutely limited employment opportunities and ever decreasing grazing lands for their animals in the district were among the challenges needing urgent attention.
“We vote for these politicians and they go to parliament. Now they are back again to use us in helping them go to greener pastures. Meanwhile, we continue to struggle as they enjoy life in Maseru,” he said.
“I will give you a clear example of the previous legislator for this constituency (Mathabo Moremoholo) who was elected on a Democratic Congress ticket but has now defected to the AD.
“During her time as an MP, she practically did nothing for us here. What makes these politicians think they can do something better when they defect to another party because they are still the same people who failed to deliver?” Mr Mpona said.
Ms Moremoholo lost the AD’s primary election for candidacy in the constituency.
Another villager, Matumane Letsika, said politicians had continually promised to facilitate the construction of shopping centres in the district without delivering.
Due to the lack of shopping facilities, she said they had to travel to Maseru to buy basic commodities while the few items locally available were “ridiculously expensive”.
“Politicians need to come up with strategies to expand this town and bring in more businesses for the benefit of the community,” Ms Letsika said.
“Expanding the town and building more business centres would stimulate entrepreneurial activities and create jobs for people living in Thaba-Tseka.”
Access to electricity was another issue of concern, with Ms Letsika saying connection rates were higher for people living in urban centres compared to people in rural areas.
“We also have a serious challenge of access to potable water despite being in a district with the biggest dam in the country which is Katse,” Ms Letsika said.
For her part, Mamohale Komeke told this paper the next government should prioritise access to information for all Basotho.
“We are able to access our community radio station and the national radio station,” she said.
“However, we don’t have access to other radio stations and newspapers to be up to date with the information about this country.”