ABC pledges to empower councils

MASERU – The All Basotho Convention (ABC) party has pledged to empower local councils to deliver better services to the people if it wins local government elections later this year.

Speaking at the official launch of the party’s local government election manifesto yesterday, ABC leader Thomas Thabane said the party will dismantle the policies of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party regarding local governance.

The local government elections were last year postponed to April this year.

But the polls have since been rescheduled to sometime later this year.

Thabane told journalists that the ABC will push for local governance independent from domination by the central government to bring services closer to the people.

“Local councils are a subsidiary arm of the central government, not a government unto themselves.

“But the central government should refrain from imposing itself on the councils for them to be effective,” Thabane said.

The ABC leader said local councils have systematically been disabled as they have neither resources nor the material to execute their required duties.   

The election manifesto says the ABC will focus mainly on ensuring that local councils are independent in as much as they “will still answer to the central government”.

Thabane said if elected, his party would challenge the Land Act 2010 “which strives to deprive people of their land”.

“We will challenge the sadistic Land Act 2010 by forcing the minister in question to amend the section of the law giving land to foreigners over locals,” Thabane said. 

“We will do everything in our power to make sure that people who are unable to utilise their land are helped to develop it instead of being stripped of their land by the minister.”

He added that the ABC, if elected, will not seek to empower councilors above local chiefs.

“No commoner has the right to act like they are above chiefs at local councils. We will establish local councils that accommodate chieftaincy in its entirety,” Thabane said.

In addition to creating jobs and establishing structures that would help improve people’s lives, the document says, the ABC would also introduce projects promoting the spirit of self-sufficiency.

To achieve this, the manifesto says, the ABC would help with the construction of dams for irrigation purposes as well as fish farming.  

The ABC would advocate clear policies of allocating land, balanced food distribution and developed agriculture in all local councils, the manifesto says.  

The document also says the party would fight crime, stock theft and engage the business community and traditionalists in its programmes.

The party would also work with women, youth groups, disabled persons and organisations to combat the spread of HIV/Aids to improve people’s quality of life. 

The ABC would build youth resource centres as well as halls and sports fields for entertainment and recreation, the manifesto says.

“ABC will also encourage that locals be considered for tenders over foreigners in order to help their businesses grow,” the manifesto says.          

The ABC would also establish structures throughout local councils to guide the management and usage of natural resources within councils, the manifesto further states.

“In our villages we have sand, quarry, sandstone and diamonds. If they were to be managed sensibly, they would help bring development that would sustain people’s livelihoods,” it says.

The plan would be implemented by first identifying the resources each area has, calling for public consultations on how they should be managed and used to the benefit of those regions.

The ABC says it would bring councils together to develop programmes on how they will use and preserve pastures in an environment devoid of discrimination and corruption.

Monies derived from this project will then be collected, have bank accounts opened to keep them and allow the public to have control over the money, the manifesto says.

“The current trend is that the local government ministry collects the money and keeps it in a bank account over which people have neither control nor access to,” Thabane said.       

 “A good decentralised system of government leads to good governance.”

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