BUTHA-BUTHE – Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing on Sunday urged party supporters to ensure the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) are never part of government again.
The LCD, ABC and BNP formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012 National Assembly elections had failed to produce an outright majority winner.
However, ABC leader Thomas Thabane — who became prime minister after the three parties had pooled their parliamentary seats together to ensure they garnered the minimum 62 required by the country’s constitution for the formation of a government — fell-out with Mr Metsing, the deputy premier early last year over governance issues, prompting an early election on 28 February 2015.
Addressing an LCD rally in Butha-Buthe at the weekend, Mr Metsing said forging an alliance with the ABC and BNP had been a “big mistake”.
“The LCD should consolidate our support throughout the country to make sure we achieve our desired result of becoming government when we eventually go for elections next month,” Mr Metsing told the cheering crowd.
“We are here today because we defeated enemies of democracy, who are the ABC and BNP. We should continue crushing these two parties and make sure they don’t rule Lesotho again.
“The international community listened to us and we ended up defeating these opponents of good governance and democracy that we, the LCD, believe in. People were always asking me what we thought we were doing by forming a coalition government with Thabane because they said he was someone who could not be trusted. However, we went ahead with the coalition and it failed due to Thabane’s conduct, which proved those people right.”
Mr Metsing also told the well-attended rally that by agreeing to suspend parliament for nine months on 10 June 2014, the ABC leader and his BNP counterpart, Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane, had clearly shown that “they did not care about the people”.
“Why prorogue parliament, and curtail the nation’s right to freedom of expression through their representatives in the National Assembly?” Mr Metsing said.
“Why are they now going up and down asking for the people’s votes, while they supported parliament’s prorogation, which effectively meant people’s voices could no longer be heard?
“Thabane suspended parliament because he was running away from a vote-of-no-confidence that the MPs wanted to pass on him because of his poor leadership. Yet he ended up saying the prorogation was part of his strategy to fight corruption, which was not true at all.
“Couldn’t he fight the corruption while parliament was open? That man is totally misguided; he hates democracy and we will not allow him to ruin our democracy ever again.”
Mr Metsing further accused Dr Thabane of destabilising the country by allegedly violating the Electoral Pledge (EP) signed by party leaders last month. The EP committed the parties to ensure a free and fair election, and was signed before Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The EP, among other issues, stipulated that the coalition leaders, who are now in power on a caretaker basis, should refrain from making senior government appointments during the election period, which began on 8 December and ends on 7 March 2015.
However, Dr Thabane has been making some appointments, which include the Principal Secretary for Cabinet Administration, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Court of Appeal who is expected to be sworn-in tomorrow. The premier says he has the authority to make such appointments, but Mr Metsing begs to differ.
“All this is in violation of the Electoral Pledge that we all signed before (South African vice-president) Mr Ramaphosa. This should not be happening and yet Thabane is doing it with impunity.”
Meanwhile, former ABC chairman and erstwhile long-time friend of Dr Thabane, Molubeli Soulo, told the LCD faithful to ensure the premier and Chief ‘Maseribane, do not retain power.
“Thabane is not serious about the development of this country, so you should go to the polling stations and vote for the LCD so that we defeat enemies of this country,” said Mr Soulo, who quit the ABC last month following a dramatic fallout with Dr Thabane, who had earlier fired him from his cabinet post.
“Thabane is a joke; you can see how he handles governance issues so recklessly. However, this country did the noble thing by giving him a chance to rule. So now that he has failed, the nation should remove him from power through your vote.”
Mr Soulo further condemned Dr Thabane for his “misplaced priorities”.
“He once said he would leave office and go with his lover if necessary after he was questioned about the relationship, so he does not care about the interests of the nation,” Mr Soulo said.
“If you remain united, this bad governance we saw under Thabane will be a thing of the past. We would have defeated enemies of democracy and the people will live in harmony once again.”
…as LCD vows to sue Molapo
BUTHA-BUTHE – Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has vowed to take legal action against Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader Joang Molapo, who has accused him of failing to account for M20 million in public funds.
Speaking at a campaign rally held on Sunday in Butha-Buthe, Mr Metsing said he would “definitely” sue Chief Molapo for the “malicious” allegation.
Mr Metsing, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister, said he would not wait for next month’s snap election before dragging Chief Molapo to court for his “utterances”.
Chief Molapo told a BNP campaign rally held in Maputsoe a fortnight ago that M20 million of the M53 million allocated to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs for developmental projects could not be accounted for, and fingered Mr Metsing for the missing funds. In addition to being deputy premier, Mr Metsing is also the Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs minister. His bitter complaint that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was not consulting him, as his deputy, when making key decisions on governance, eventually forced Lesotho — which formed a coalition government of the LCD, BNP and Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) in June 2012 — to go for National Assembly elections two years earlier than originally scheduled.
“I will not wait to become prime minister first before I sue Molapo. In fact, I will take him to court before next month’s elections,” Mr Metsing said.
“These allegations are baseless and I will sue every single person who has been saying that I stole the funds.
“Initially, these detractors were saying that I stole M53 million from the ministry, and now they have suddenly changed and are claiming that it is M20 million, which is missing. That is how these malicious people are, these nationalists. They never tell the nation the truth.
“But Molapo will have to prove that I stole the M20 million when I take the matter to court.”
According to Mr Metsing, the allegations were meant to “destroy” the LCD and tarnish his image as an individual.
“The plan is to destroy the LCD by demoralising our supporters. They want to humiliate our supporters by saying they have a corrupt leader; they want people to be ashamed of me as their leader.
“The LCD is growing in leaps and bounds, so some people are now desperate and want to destabilise it through these malicious fabrications.
“We bought caterpillars and trucks with that money, but suddenly, some people are misguiding themselves by making all sorts of allegations against me. They want people to turn against the LCD and me as the leader of the party.”
Mr Metsing further said if he has done anything wrong, he would welcome a “proper” investigation against him.
“I am not opposed to any proper investigation aimed at eradicating corruption from our society. However, I have a problem with people who use such investigations to kill our party, which is realising such phenomenal growth, as we speak. The crusade against corruption must be genuine and should not be directed at LCD members only.”
Asked to comment on Mr Metsing’s threat to sue him, Chief Molapo said he was ready for “anything”. Chief Molapo, who is also Home Affairs minister, repeated the same allegation which has angered the deputy premier.
“I am ready to go to court, unlike him who runs away and is afraid of the law, I don’t fear the courts, because I know what I am doing and saying,” Chief Molapo said.
“It is a fact that Metsing could not account for these funds, as I mentioned in Maputsoe. This man wants to take me to court while he always runs away from the same courts, but that is fine with me because I have nothing to fear. The nation will then know what he really is, should he decide to take that legal route