MOHALE’S HOEK — Mpharane is usually a very quiet place. People here talk about cattle diseases, the rains and the harvest.
Politics is discussed in hushed voices unless they are having a traditional brew and the liquor has freed everyone’s tongue.
Yet on Sunday the tranquility and hushed political discussions came to a brief end.
The people of Mpharane showed their political colours.
And in style too.
For once one was either a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) or an All Basotho Convention (ABC) party supporter.
The choice of dressing colours that day showed one’s choice of political party.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was the main speaker at the LCD rally.
He was scathing in his criticism of ABC leader Thomas Thabane.
Less than a kilometre away from the LCD rally, Thabane was having his own rally.
He laid into Mosisili and the ruling party.
Our political editor Bongiwe Zihlangu and chief reporter Caswel Tlali were in Mpharane on Sunday to witness the spectacle.
MOHALE’S HOEK — All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, has become so “power drunk” that he is prepared to destroy his party just to get into power, said Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to a rousing applause from about 1 500 Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) supporters that gathered at Lekhalong plateau for the rally.
“He is such a reckless person,” said Mosisili.
“Hardly a year into its establishment he had already destroyed that yellow thing (ABC) of his.”
The reason why ABC is sinking, Mosisili claimed, was because Thabane has become “power drunk”.
There was a time, he added, when the ABC was “beautiful and showed potential.”
Then “he (Thabane) developed a big head”.
“When one drinks the alcohol goes into one’s belly and its effect straight into the head. It’s the same with power.”
Mosisili said he served with Thabane in both the LCD national executive committee and cabinet when one day Thabane decided to leave the party “saying he was tired of being a conductor”.
“He said he wanted to be the driver. I then asked myself, whose car did he want to drive?”
Mosisili said he was amazed that people could be so gullible that they could follow rebellious individuals like Thabane, who deserted his own party.
Mosisili appealed to the youths to ensure that they bring back to the LCD one Monyase, a former party youth league member who defected with Thabane to the ABC.
“I will not be satisfied until you bring Monyase back to us. I want him to once again be a part of the LCD.
“Others who got lost have also come back and we have warmly welcomed them. I am talking about Leketekete Ketso and Thabo Melato among others.
“When your enemies gang up against you, you defend with all you have got. Last time I said I was strong as they were. But today I declare that they are just small fish.”
Mosisili said “no individual in Mpharane could stand here and claim they had not benefited from the LCD government”.
“Who doesn’t have a child who is receiving free education or an elderly parent who is getting M300 as pension? I dare them to come forth,” Mosisili quipped.
“We are the only government in Africa investing heavily in children’s education by sponsoring all university and tertiary students.
“Considering that textbooks are costly, we have introduced a programme where parents with children in secondary school children pay only M220 for books while we cater for the rest.
“At Bereng High School in Mafeteng alone, the LCD is catering for the education of 300 orphans and needy children. Teachers can testify to that.”
Mosisili said the LCD administration was offering free health services to the public.
“Which other government ever provided free health-care services? We have allowed free access to health services and medication for the public. We are now in the process of renovating all health facilities nationwide be they church, government or privately owned.”
The government, he added, was building the biggest referral hospital in Lesotho.
Mosisili also defended the National Volunteer Youth Corps project which had been a subject of opposition since its launch three weeks ago.
Opposition political parties and youth leagues have labelled it a “breeding ground for pro-LCD militia”.
They have likened the project to the Basotho National Party’s (BNP) Lesotho Youth Service (LYS) which became notorious for harassing BNP’s political opponents.
“God willing, this project of ours is going to grow to the extent that in the future there will be a mandatory public service programme imposed on students to serve this nation. Only those who serve in the programme will be eligible for government sponsorships.”
He also implored the people of Mpharane to vote for the LCD.
“This has always been the congress movement’s constituency from time immemorial. It would therefore be wrong to give it to any other party. It was ours in 1970, 1993, 1998, 2002 and 2007. Those who think they will win should get lost.
“It would also be a gift of gratitude to the late Nkoenyane Ramakatsa (the late MP for Mpharane) who served this party and Mpharane people so loyally and for so long,” he said.
Mosisili then introduced the candidate to contest the Mpharane by-election for the LCD, Matebele Pakela.
“The NEC has mandated me to present this man to you. I do not know him from Adam, but if he is your choice, then I accept him too,” Mosisili said.
Mosisili told Pakela that he feared for him “because the shoes you are about to wear are too big shoes to fill”.
“Ramakatsa was a very strong and extraordinary character. I am as scared for you today as I was when I was chosen to fill Ntate Ntsu’s shoes,” Mosisili said to roars of applause at the mention of Mokhehle’s name.
“But if you could just humble yourself by being honest and protective of your people and your duty to them you will be fine.
“You should also know that the parliament you are about to go to has ghosts that could mislead you. So be careful lest you get lost.”