in Qacha’s Nek
OPPOSITION parties that are pushing for the reallocation of proportional representation seats in parliament “should get lost” because the government’s position will never change, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has said.
Speaking at a rally in Qacha’s Nek on Sunday, Mosisili said by continuing to squabble over the issue the opposition parties were “like dogs barking at the moon”.
Mosisili said the opposition was “crying over spilt milk” and “they should just wipe off their tears and forge forward to the 2012 elections” because the government is not going to dismantle parliament to accommodate their issues.
“These people are crying over spilt milk. Now I can understand the white man’s saying that one is barking at the moon,” Mosisili said.
“They are like a dog barking at the moon. It will bark until it is tired but the moon will not shift and the dog will never reach it.
“The opposition has been lying to the people about the true facts of the allocation of PR seats in parliament. Our stance on the issue remains the same.
“We are right in the middle of the seventh parliament’s life. Do they expect us to dismantle parliament now?”
Mosisili said even the current talks being held under the auspices of the Christian Council of Lesotho will not move the government.
“I am well aware that our church leaders who have been mediating between the government and the opposition are eager for there to be talks. But it should be understood that in life there are things that can never change — things that we can talk about until we turn blue in the face. In this case the opposition should get lost!”
He said instead the talks should focus on the revision of the laws governing elections and prepare for the 2012 elections.
It was a rally where Mosisili was on the defensive especially after weeks of attacks from the opposition over the talks and three Bills that the government is trying to push in parliament.
The Land Bill, the Public Meetings and Processions Bill and Education Bill have sparked outrage from the opposition.
Mosisili defended his government’s decision to propose the Land Bill saying it was necessary to review Lesotho’s land tenure system.
The opposition and civic organisations have ganged up against the Bill saying it was part of the government’s plan to sell land to foreigners.
They say there was not enough consultation before the Bill was tabled.
Yet Mosisili said the Bill is necessary to change the 1979 Land Act which he described as “outdated and does not meet today’s requirements”.
“It is extremely out of touch and totally outdated. It needs to be reviewed for changes to be put firmly in place,” Mosisili said of the Land Act.
“It is misleading for the opposition to give people the impression that the LCD government is selling your land to foreigners. What you should know is that the Land Bill is based on the Mathealira Ramolibeli Report.”
“Opposition parties are up in arms trying to convince the nation that this government violates people’s rights while making an unnecessary noise in the process.
“Do not let yourselves be fooled by the lies being fed to you by these people (the opposition),” Mosisili said.
“How could we possibly strip you of your land and violate your rights knowing it won’t be long before we come to you asking for your support at the polls?” Mosisili said.
He said the Public Meetings and Processions Bill was necessary “because we live in a country which upholds the rule of law”.
The Bill proposes to make it illegal for anyone to hold a public meeting or demonstration without first seeking permission from the police or the chief.
The Bill has been described as draconian and an attempt by the government to curtail the people’s freedom of association.
Some observers say the new law will have the same effect as the Internal Security Act of 1984 crafted by the late Chief Leabua Jonathan’s regime to clamp down opposition.
The main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party has said the Bill is designed to target its activities.
“The Public Meetings and Processions Bill of 2009 is not as oppressive as it is made out to be. In any democratic dispensation the rule of law must be upheld. Once again the opposition is wrong to assume that the law is meant to hinder their political activities,” Mosisili said.
“People are at liberty to hold political rallies and make processions and demonstrations as long as they do not eventually tamper with the peace and stability currently reigning in this country.”
Mosisili said where chiefs and the police felt rallies or processions would be a potential threat to public safety “it is their responsibility to make the right call”.
“You should all understand that this is a democratic country whereby the law should be observed at all times,” Mosisili said.
He said the law will apply to the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy party as well.
“This law will not discriminate on the basis of political affiliation. It will equally apply on the ruling party.”
He said the opposition was also criticising the Education Bill 2009 “because they always have to find reason to oppose all the good we do for this nation’s benefit”.
“We introduced the free education system so that every Mosotho child could get an education.
“But parents are still not sending their children to school. This law will make way for legal measures to be taken against parents who fail to send their children to school,” Mosisili said.
He said once the Education Bill was passed Primary Education will not only be free but compulsory.