The February 2015 general election will see the performance of the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC)—the party which acquired the most constituencies at the 2012 poll—declining due to lack of access to state resources, analysts say.
Analysts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week, believe although the DC is likely to still win several constituencies in the upcoming poll, the party’s performance would not be similar to that of 2012 where it garnered 41 constituency and seven proportional representation seats “because they do not control state resources unlike in the past”.
The DC was founded by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in February 2012, as a breakaway party from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
However, the party failed to win the required 61 seats to form government, and its three-month stint in power was effectively ended by incumbent Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition government comprising the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the LCD.
The Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) Director, Seabata Motsamai, believes the current DC MPs—some of whom are former ministers, principal secretaries and senior government officials—would struggle the most should they stand in the poll as they are not used to campaigning without resources.
“People who are potential candidates to contest the elections under the DC banner, for them to campaign with little resources is an alien concept, but sadly a reality too,” Mr Motsamai says.
“Surely they will struggle to reach constituencies and wider audiences they are used to, due to resource constraints such as time and money.”
Mr Motsamai again maintains this likely failure to reach the masses “like it did before”, when it was still in government, coupled with the current security tensions, could see the DC “struggling to make its face seen”.
“Added to the lack of resources, another challenge that will limit the DC’s potential to campaign, is the tension emanating from the security situation in the country,” Mr Motsamai says.
Lack of the advantage of incumbency, Mr Motsamai adds, is likely to be a huge setback for the DC.
“Access to resources actually has a huge bearing on the final outcome of elections,” Mr Motsamai asserts.
Mr Motsamai further cautions that if the DC is to attract potential partners to form a coalition government post the 2015 election, the party needs to “strategically position itself”.
“The party needs to carefully identify a partner, and or partners that it can form a coalition government with. The 2012 election results have set a precedence, that we are going to have yet another coalition government,” Mr Motsamai says.
“The DC, on its own, cannot be government and therefore has to condition itself to the possibility of entering into a coalition government, with not only one but maybe two political parties.”
Meanwhile, Dr Motlamelle Kapa, Head of the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), says there is not a doubt that “the DC is still a big party in Lesotho”.
“The DC is likely to remain, or either improve or decrease slightly,” Dr. Kapa says.
“This improvement will highly likely be from areas where the LCD has lost support because of intra-party conflicts, such as Leribe in the northern parts of the country.”
Dr Kapa also believes the DC would maintain its position due to the parties in the coalition government “not doing much to change perceptions about the DC”.
“They have not intensively held rallies aimed at changing people’s perceptions about the DC,” Dr Kapa says.
However, Dr Kapa warns the DC’s support would come from the rural areas “where mass media has not managed to sway the electorate”.
“Its support base seems to be in the rural areas, where mass doesn’t reach the public the same way it happens in urban areas,” Dr Kapa says.