THE Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao has promised his supporters a better Lesotho should he be voted into power in the upcoming elections.
Lesotho is bracing for anticipated hotly-contested general elections due anytime from October 2022 to elect all 120 seats of the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament.
Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro has assured the country that all reforms that have an impact on elections would be completed before voters head to the polls.
Addressing hundreds of BAP supporters who braved the cold rainy weather early this week in Mafeteng, Prof Mahao said it was time for change.
“The time for change has come for us to vote for a government that will work hard to address o Basotho’s needs,” he noted.
He also accused the government of failing to develop Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing districts, making it seem like they were not part of Lesotho.
The government had left the only factory in Mafeteng to turn into a white elephant at a time that hundreds of Basotho remain jobless and some have resorted to crime in order to make ends meet, he said.
“Some of our men and women end up doing unlawful jobs in South Africa. Men engage in illegal mining while women end up being trafficked as they search for jobs. It is on this basis that we have, as part of our BAP policy, said that there will be vocational training schools where the unemployed can be equipped with self-reliance skills.
“The time has come for Basotho living in Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing districts to bring about change. If only you give me the benefit of doubt and trust me with your votes, I will make sure that this factory becomes operational and provide jobs for you,” said Prof Mahao.
He added that the wide economic gap between the rich and the poor in Lesotho is a serious dividing factor, and not politics nor religion, as many people would want to think.
“Hence, we as the BAP have deliberately chosen to be on the side of the poor. We are therefore going to reintroduce low-income housing for all Basotho so that they can at least service their housing loans instead of having to pay rent. This is a project which will benefit Basotho who earn low income across all sectors, including vendors and factory workers.
“Every Mosotho will be eligible to get their pension through the Social Security Bill which was motivated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) but government has chosen not to implement it.”
The BAP leader told the gathering that if elected his party would set up a foundation to benefit vendors, taxi drivers, and the self-employed.
Under a new BAP-led government, people will get their pensions whether they have reached the age of 60 or 70.
“This Bill will be our very first assignment in Parliament once we are voted into power. Basotho workers have been crying over meagre salaries and we as BAP are going to set up a Bargaining Council, which will ensure that employers are transparent with their profits and share them with employees as it should be happening,” Prof. Mahao stated.
He said over the years the government has been very unkind to pensionable civil servants by delaying to pay them out before they die.
“We are going to make sure that once we are in power civil servants who go on pension get the larger chunk of their dues immediately to help them start up their own little projects.
“As it is when one dies before they get their dues, their families don’t get a cent out of that money, and this is very unfortunate. The very pension money is invested in other countries and creates jobs there and not Basotho who should be benefitting. This is money that should benefit Basotho and this country’s economy,” he noted.
Prof Mahao pledged that a BAP government will introduce free secondary education largely focusing on vocational training so that Basotho can start creating jobs for themselves and reduce the number of unemployed graduates.
Lesotho’s education needed a total overhaul, where 60 percent of all tertiaries should be mandated to train in the faculties of Science, Technology, Maths, Commerce and Health, to help address the country’s market needs.
He added: “We are going to have vocational training schools in all the 10 districts to cater for Basotho who could not attain tertiary education. This way, we will combat the tragic deaths of our women who end up being victims of human trafficking and men who end up in illegal mining and other crimes just because they have been taken advantage of owing to their illiteracy. They should all come back and work close to their homes and be part of our self-reliance initiative.”