ABC ‘to dump Land Act’

MASERU — The main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party says it will reverse the 2010 Land Act that allows foreigners to own land in Lesotho if it wins the May 26 election.

Speaking at the unveiling of the party’s election manifesto on Thursday, party leader Thomas Thabane said the new land law was seriously disadvantaging Basotho and that his party will revoke the law if it gets into power.

On the question of land the party’s manifesto says: “The 2010 Land Allocation Act allows foreigners to purchase land in Lesotho.

“But if ABC becomes government, that unfortunate Act will be amended so that it provides only for Basotho to have the right to own land.”

Thabane told journalists that the ABC will implement sound land allocation policies to fight rampant poverty in Lesotho.

“We will put in place policies that will secure land for vulnerable groups such as orphans,” Thabane said.

He said land would only be allocated to Basotho and those who cannot afford to use it would be assisted.

The controversial Land Act was signed into law by King Letsie III in 2010 despite fierce resistance by opposition parties that claimed the law was designed to allow foreigners to take ownership of Basotho land.

The opposition accused Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of rail-roading the Land Bill through parliament at the behest of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States aid agency, a charge the MCC rejected.

Opposition parties said the MCC had set the enactment of the Land Bill as a prerequisite for a US$362.6 million (about M2.7 billion) grant to fund water, health and land reform projects.

The government however defended the new law saying it will stimulate economic growth in Lesotho.

Thabane added the ABC will restore powers to King Letsie III to enable him to intervene during moments of political crises.

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy which means the king only performs ceremonial functions.

Thabane said the ABC will also empower chiefs and review their allowances so that they can participate more fully in local and community development programmes.

“We will review their incentives with a view to standardising them so that they fall in line with local councillors as we believe that chiefs are senior to councillors,” he said.

He added that the ABC will also fight for Christianity to be integrated in the country’s constitution.

“We support what King Moshoeshoe I did by accepting Christianity and the veneration of Christianity in general as part of Basotho culture.

“We will fight for Christianity to be integrated in the constitution because Christianity is tolerant of other religions,” said Thabane.

He added an ABC government will recognise people with disabilities and work hand in hand with them to improve their lives.

“We will take good care of disabled people, we will make sure they become part of the nation, in politics, economy, as well as being equal to other people,” he said.

He added that the party would offer skills training to the disabled and provide them with rehabilitation facilities.

Thabane said the party was concerned about the rising unemployment figures among youths and the continuous strikes at institutions of higher learning as well as lack of government scholarships.

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