MPHARANE — The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) government has run down the country because its leaders are more concerned with enriching themselves than alleviating poverty, according to All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane.
Thabane made the remarks at a campaign rally in Mpharane on Sunday. The ABC is contesting the by-election in the constituency on May 22.
Thabane said his allegation that there was embezzlement of funds in the government was true because he had witnessed it firsthand when he was still part of the LCD administration.
“I was once part of the system. Do not vote for them because they are thieves,” Thabane said.
“They have caused irreparable damage therefore voting for them is a direct contribution to their theft.
“I have firsthand knowledge of this because I was a prominent person in the LCD government.
“I left them because I could no longer withstand their bad conduct,” Thabane said amid loud applause and ululation from his followers.
Thabane held the rally at the foot of the Lekhalong Plateau, atop of which his rival Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s LCD flags were flying in the clear, blue sky.
“The LCD cabinet is best at filling their pockets with public funds,” he alleged.
Thabane said there was a time when Mpharane constituency was well developed and the people had enough to eat under the Basotho National Party regime, when the late Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan was its member of parliament.
“In those years everyone wanted to belong to this constituency because it was well catered for,” Thabane said.
“Its development ended there and when the late (Constantine) Ramakatsa became its MP, it plummeted.”
Ramakatsa had been the Mpharane constituency MP since 1993.
He was elected in Mpharane under the BCP banner and after that he crossed the floor in 1997 to join the newly established LCD.
He held the post until his death last year.
“The LCD government, instead of continuing with the development by adding where the late Leabua had left, messed up this constituency.
“Ramakatsa’s chief concern was to sell his farm produce in Maseru to MPs. He was not committed to the development of this constituency,” Thabane said.
Thabane said Ramakatsa “failed dismally to work towards the development of Mpharane”.
The ABC candidate, Khobatha Pitso told the rally that Ramakatsa died while still owing money for the block farming project.
“He was not the kind of person to alleviate poverty and he failed in front of your eyes,” Pitso said.
“Leabua Jonathan was our MP for 21 years and in all those years we saw our constituency prospering,” he said.
“Ramakatsa, who I had advised for years but he could not listen, was self-centred.”
Promising the electorate that he would be different from Ramakatsa, Pitso claimed he was “a man of the people”.
“I need not praise myself but it is common knowledge that I worked towards the building of the local chief’s office,” he said.
“All the people know my contribution in the development of our local primary school,” he said.
Pitso said the people would be right to expect more from him when he is elected MP.
Pitso — clad in a white sweater, stone-washed pair of jeans, thick rimmed spectacles and a blue apron which was half-covered by the ABC flag he had wrapped himself with — told the Lesotho Times in an interview that his chances of winning the by-election were very high.
“I have a strong feeling that I am going to win this constituency because my main opponent from the LCD does not have the support from his own party members.
“He has not been canvassing and I think it was because he was ashamed of the failures of his party to maintain the high development level of Mpharane which was left by the late Leabua.
“Many LCD followers in the constituency don’t even know him.”
The ABC youth leader in the constituency, Thuso Mosenoli, decried the lack of road infrastructure saying “only one road was repaired yesterday in preparation for the LCD rally atop the plateau”.
“The LCD government seemed to have forgotten that we need roads in this constituency until yesterday when they repaired one solely to make it easy for Mosisili to come to his rally,” Mosenoli said. “Otherwise we would have no road here.”