DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader, Pakalitha Mosisili, has saaid the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) — his party’s prospective partner in a coalition government after next month’s parliamentary elections — has strongly opposed “the idea of us voting together” to defeat the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
Dr Mosisili made the remarks on Sunday while addressing a DC campaign rally in Mokhotlong, which was attended by party supporters from Mokhotlong, Senqu, Bobatsi and Malingoaneng constituencies.
According to the DC leader, he had raised the subject of the parties voting together in order to prevail over the ABC, their biggest rival in the polls, but the suggestion had been turned down by LCD leader, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
The DC is a breakaway of the LCD and was formed in February 2012 when Dr Mosisili, who was party leader and premier at the time, fell-out with the National Executive Committee and decided to jump ship and form a new party.
However, the DC failed to secure the required majority seats to form a government, and was ousted by an ABC, LCD and Basotho National Party (BNP) alliance, ending his 15-year tenure as premier.
However, following the collapse of the coalition government midway through its five-year term, Lesotho goes to an early poll on 28 February this year, hence Dr Mosisili’s suggestion to forge a united front with the LCD to ensure the ABC does not return to power.
“I suggested that where the ABC won a constituency in 2012, and one of our two parties had come second, we should encourage our supporters to vote for that party to ensure the ABC does not retain that seat. However, Ntate Metsing and his people are opposed to that,” Dr Mosisili said.
Instead, Dr Mosisili added, the LCD leadership had told him that each party should vote on its own and that “we will then cobble-up our numbers post the 28 February elections”.
“They are saying we should vote as individual entities, and then come together after the elections to form a coalition government.
“So, we accepted what the LCD wants and will be voting exclusively as the DC. We will then combine our numbers after the election.”
The DC and LCD have come out in public on several occasions, alongside other political parties founded on congress ideologies, namely the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Basotho Congress Party (BCP) and Basotho Batho Democratic Congress (BBDP), outlining their plans for “a coalition government formed exclusively by congress parties”.
However, Dr Mosisili said the LCD had justified its stance, saying if they were to vote in that fashion, the party would lose out on Proportional Representation (PR) seats.
“The LCD leaders said if we were to vote that way, their party would not obtain as many PR seats as it did in the last elections,” Dr Mosisili said.
“They were adamant that to ensure the LCD secured many PR seats, the party should campaign and vote alone.”
At the 26 May 2012 poll, the LCD won 12 constituencies and went on to acquire a further 14 PR seats, bringing its total number in the National Assembly to 26, while the DC won 41 constituencies and seven PR seats.
The ABC, on the other hand, won 26 constituencies and four PR seats.
Contacted for comment yesterday, LCD spokesperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, said what Dr Mosisili had said was true but insisted there was no sinister motive behind the party’s decision to go it alone.
“It is true what he is saying but it should be noted that it was coming from a good place. If we were to vote in that fashion, it would negatively affect the growth of the LCD,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
“Making that suggestion meant hampering the growth of the LCD, especially considering the possibility that, this time around, the LCD could win the constituencies we previously lost.
“It would also be unfair to LCD voters and we’d never know what the LCD was capable of and whether it has the potential to win or not.”
Mr Mochoboroane further maintained because the DC already had 41 constituencies compared to the LCD’s 12 “voting in that fashion would adversely affect our chances of gaining more PR seats”.
Meanwhile, some political analysts have condemned the re-union of congress parties, labeling it superficial and “a marriage of convenience built on sand”.
Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) Director, Seabata Motsamai, says if the congress parties succeed in ousting ABC leader Thomas Thabane from power, they would “eventually turn against each other”.
“This is just a marriage of convenience. They will eventually turn against each when they get to the other side,” Mr Motsamai says. “This is an alliance built on sand and could collapse any day.”
Testimony to that, Mr Motsamai asserts, is that unlike the united force the congress parties were displaying when they were seeking to topple Dr Thabane via a no-confidence vote in parliament last year, “now they don’t seem to be as close”.
“For instance, when they go out to campaign for the upcoming elections, they do not support each other at all; it’s a case of every man for himself,” Mr Motsamai says.
“If that was not the case and the re-union was genuine, they would support each other’s election campaigns to boost the prospects of the smaller parties to win constituencies.”
Another analyst, Tsikoane Peshoane of Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), echoes similar sentiments, adding if the re-union was genuine, the DC would “dissolve itself and return to the LCD”, with the LCD following suit and returning to the BCP “and come out under one umbrella”.