ABC-AD in new elections deal



Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

THOMAS Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) have agreed to share votes in constituencies likely to be won by one of the parties in the event of elections to ensure they oust Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from power.

This was revealed by Mr Moleleki in an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times this week ahead of the official launch of the AD in Masowe on Saturday.

The veteran politician said his party recently reached an agreement with the ABC to vote for a common candidate in constituencies one of the parties was perceived to be stronger than the other.

A second general election barely two years after the previous one has looked all the more likely after the opposition alliance mooted a no-confidence motion in the Dr Mosisili-led seven party coalition government.

The alliance, which includes the ABC, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho, was last November bolstered after Mr Moleleki, who was then Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, signed a coalition pact with the tripartite bloc to oust the government.

Dr Mosisili, who is also DC leader, responded by suspending for six years Mr Moleleki and his “rebels” consisting of the majority of the party’s National Executive Committee.

Mr Moleleki then left the DC along with the bulk of the leaders of the DC’s women’s and youth leagues to form the AD last month. Despite the terms of the coalition pact with the opposition having changed with Mr Moleleki no longer being DC deputy leader, the agreement held firm.

Under the agreement, Mr Moleleki would head the coalition for the first 18 months upon forming government and thereafter trade places with Dr Thabane who would initially be deputy prime minister.

Dr Mosisili has since vowed to dissolve parliament and call for snap elections in the event of a no-confidence vote against his government when parliament reconvenes on 24 February.

With the parties having already committed to joining forces in parliament once it is reconvened, Mr Moleleki said they went a step further with the ABC by agreeing to share votes in constituencies likely to be won by one of the parties.

“I and Ntate Thabane have agreed to vote for the ABC in the constituencies where the AD is not yet popular enough to win an election,” he said.

“What we want to ensure is for Ntate Mosisili to lose resoundingly. And where we may find the AD a little bit ahead of the ABC, they will give their votes to us to ensure that Ntate Mosisili and Ntate Mothetjoa Metsing (deputy prime minister) don’t win.”

While the opposition would prefer Dr Mosisili to concede power in parliament in the event of the passing of a no-confidence vote without going for “costly” elections, Mr Moleleki said they were “more than ready” for the polls if the premier takes that route.

He said dislodging Mr Metsing, who is also Mahobong constituency legislator, from his parliamentary seat ranked high among their priorities.

“We, in the AD, are in all-systems-go mode for any eventuality including snap general elections. We don’t as yet have good numbers in Mahobong hence the decision to vote for the ABC candidate to ensure that Ntate Metsing doesn’t win that constituency.

“We are going to smash him, so that the LCD will not even have one seat in parliament. On the other hand, the DC will be reduced to insignificant numbers in parliament.”

The holding of snap polls, Mr Moleleki said, would be tantamount to throwing the estimated M200 million needed for the elections “down the drain to prove the obvious fact that Ntate Mosisili no longer has the support of Basotho”.

“The general election is going to cost this country more than M200 million. We would be better off using that money to build infrastructure or to initiate some developmental programmes for this country rather than to hold another election barely 24 months from the last election,” he said.

“That is not to say, however, that we are scared of contesting an election. The DC is dead but Ntate Mosisili doesn’t want to accept that.”

Mr Moleleki also stressed the need for a government of national unity in Lesotho, reasoning the nation was “deeply polarised” for one party to govern on its own.

“Even if my party were to win an election by 61 seats, I don’t think our country is ready for one party to govern alone. We need at least 10 years of a government of national unity; consisting of all parties represented in parliament,” he said.

“The prevailing climate is so polarised that we are not ready to have any one party governing alone. So if my party were to win outright, I would still insist on inviting all the other parties represented in parliament to be part of a government of national unity.”

The Machache constituency legislator also admitted for the first time that the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao was politically motivated.

Lt-Gen Mahao was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by soldiers who had come to arrest him on allegations he was the ringleader of a group of soldiers plotting to overthrow the army leadership. However, the Mahao family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

Mr Moleleki had previously echoed the government’s line that the killing had no political connotations. He has also been at variance with his opposition colleagues on the Amnesty Bill of 2016.

While Mr Moleleki has insisted a blanket amnesty for offences allegedly committed by members of the security sector between January 2007 and December 2015 was imperative to ensure lasting peace, the bloc has been steadfast in asserting they should face justice.

“Let us forgive but not forget the trail of bloodshed which started on 26 December 1966 when a lot of people were shot dead on horseback in Thaba-Bosiu,” he said.

“The last known politically-inspired death happened in 2015 in Mokema. And I am not apportioning blame to anyone as yet. But I want to emphasise that the last recorded politically-motivated death happened in Mokema in 2015. Since our independence in 1966, there has been a trail of bloodshed, political violence, name calling, finger pointing and exile. Enough is enough!”

The AD leader said Dr Mosisili no longer deserved to lead merely based on his “mismanagement” of a government vehicle fleet tender awarded to Bidvest Bank Limited.

Mr Moleleki and his supporters have accused some government ministers of impropriety in awarding it to the South African firm.

“I was part of the government of Lesotho when it budgeted M186 million for transport. You know how much money has been spent up to now? It’s more than M300 million.

“The additional M120 million was collected from other government programmes. I am not going to be part of a government that diverts money meant for crucial programmes to please Bidvest.”

He said when the National Assembly reconvenes late next month, he would officially introduce his party as part of the opposition.

“First thing I will do after the opening prayer is to stand up on a point of order and say to the speaker (Ntlhoi Motsamai); ‘you were informed about our party.’

“We will have submitted our letter to officially inform her about the AD by then. She will then give us time to cross to the opposition side. Henceforth, I will officially be a member of the opposition. And as the opposition, we are a government in waiting and we are prepared for elections.”

Mr Moleleki repeated his vow to block budgetary allocations in the august house if their no-confidence motion was declined “thereby collapsing the government”.

“When a government fails to pass the budget, in any self-respecting democracy that symbolises the collapse of that government even without a vote of no confidence. I can promise you that I am going to topple the government by opposing its budget.”

He also touched on the pessimism by some of the viability of his pact with Dr Thabane.

“Like I said, even if I may win election outright, I don’t think our country is ready for any other party to govern alone yet. We are too polarised. “And because we are deeply polarised, it means we are always going to differ on certain issues of public concern. We have got to find the way and be mature enough to always find a compromise solution.

“We have agreed with Ntate Thabane that that I will take the first 18 months as prime minister and he will take the rest of the remaining time. That is power sharing for me. It is a home-grown formula.”

Turning to the AD’s official launch, Mr Moleleki said he was expecting between 30 000 and 40 000 people to converge at the rally, in which he is expected to arrive in a helicopter.

“My supporters have arranged for a helicopter to drop me off at the launch. The theme of my speech will be to introduce our party, its structures, flag and its main pillars. We have three main pillars of our party: First, it is national reconciliation and the unity of purpose going forward. It is symbolised by the white dominant colour of the AD.

“The second pillar is purity. Purity in governance; zero tolerance to corruption; total unacceptance of graft in public affairs. The third pillar is providing economic hope for the young people of Lesotho. A government which I will be part of will provide an annual budget for Basotho youth to come up with good ideas and bankable projects.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, ABC Secretary-General Samonyane Ntsekele shied away from commenting about his party’s electoral agreement with the AD, saying: “The leaders met and discussed that issue at their level. I cannot comment about it because it has not reached my level as yet.”


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