THE Basotho National Party (BNP) will hold a two-day conference this weekend to prepare for next year’s snap election scheduled for February.
Party Spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe, told the Lesotho Times the conference is set to take place in Maseru from 8-9 November at a venue yet to be decided by the leadership.
“The conference is for members to assess how the party has grown since it entered into a coalition government with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in June 2012,” Mr Mofomobe said.
However, Mr Mofomobe emphasised the main agenda would be preparations for the poll, which had to be brought forward by two years following the collapse of the coalition government due to differences between ABC leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, and his LCD counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
The two leaders had a bitter fallout in June this year after Mr Metsing publicly accused Dr Thabane of not consulting him and BNP leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, when making key decisions with a bearing on good governance in violation of the consultative spirit of their Coalition Agreement.
After the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was invited to mediate in the fallout, political party leaders signed the Maseru Facilitation Declaration on 2 October 2014. Under the Declaration, parliament, which Dr Thabane had suspended for nine months on 10 June 2014 to avoid a no-confidence vote, was to open on 17 October, for poll-related business, and disband early December with a general election held towards the end of February 2015.
According to Mr Mofomobe, the BNP was determined to do well in the upcoming election, hence the need for thorough preparations and mobilisation of the electorate.
“We need to plan and discuss new policy directions to take ahead of the election, consult at grassroots level and agree on the best way to select our candidates for the poll,” Mr Mofomobe said.
“We always go through a rigorous selection criteria which starts with primaries at sub-branch level, but due to the limited time we have before the election, we have to speed-up the process.”
Mr Mofomobe also said the conference would review the BNP’s role in the coalition government and its position in future regarding such an alliance.
“We need to have feedback from our members regarding the coalition government and how it could be stabilised in future through legal reforms,” he said.
According to Mr Mofomobe, the BNP and ABC leadership are still working in harmony in the coalition government, while the LCD had decided to dump the partnership the three parties signed amid great expectations of a new era in Lesotho politics.
Asked if the working relationship would not result in the ABC overshadowing the BNP ahead of the poll, Mr Mofomobe said: “The BNP has grown significantly since it became part of the coalition government in 2012 and continues to recruit new members. Because of this, we believe the party is going to be a force to reckon with come February 2015.
“However, it is clear our policies are almost similar to those of the ABC, especially when it comes to respecting the national constitution and fighting corruption. For instance, we have reasons to believe by abandoning the coalition government, the LCD leadership is condoning corruption and very much against good governance.”
However, Mr Mofomobe insisted despite the cordial relationship with the ABC, the BNP would be contesting next year’s poll independently.
“We are only open to an alliance after the announcement of the election results, for as long as that party respects the rule of law, upholds good governance and is committed to fighting corruption.”
Asked to comment on Mr Mofomobe’s allegations that the LCD ditched the coalition government due to its reluctance to fight corruption, party Deputy Spokesperson, Selibe Mochoboroane said the statement was mere politicking.
“So many corrupt people are claiming that the LCD leadership is immoral just to cover up their own corruption,” said Mr Mochoboroane.
“For instance, the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation led by BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, hired gates for horseracing games held in Mafeteng as part of celebrations marking the King’s Birthday (in July this year). But what’s surprising is that a contract worth more than M100 000 was awarded to Machesetsa without going through a tender process.”
“What’s shocking is that it cost the company delivering the gates from Gauteng Province in South Africa to Maputsoe M50 000, and the BNP spokesperson charged government twice that amount for the gates to be taken to Mafeteng. Isn’t that corruption by the same people who portray themselves as Saints?” Mr Mochoboroane queried.
“BNP members are involved in so many corrupt deals but continue to get away with it because they divert attention from themselves by pointing fingers at others.
“We still have another case relating to funds issued by the Finance Ministry for the Cosafa under-20 football tournament (held in Lesotho in December 2013), which were never accounted for by Mofomobe’s leader, ‘Maseribane. But what is even more shocking is that these cases are not being investigated at all.”