MASERU – The leader of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Tom Thabane, last Sunday expressed dismay at remarks by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili suggesting that Basotho were not interested in farming.
Responding to a question from ABC legislator, Sello Machakela, in parliament last Friday, Mosisili said the government had in the past allocated a lot of money to the agriculture sector to improve food security.
Mosisili said those efforts had not yielded the desired results because most young people were not interested in agriculture.
The Prime Minister said the government had instead saw if fit to plough more resources in education and training.
Reacting to the comments last Sunday, Thabane lashed out at Mosisili accusing the Prime Minister of wanting to starve people so that they would remain beholden to his government.
Thabane said Mosisili’s comments in parliament were completely unacceptable.
“I took him to mean that Basotho want to starve,” Thabane told an estimated 800 people who attended the rally at Morija, about 30 km south of Maseru.
Thabane said the government should allocate more resources to the farming sector.
“That money does not belong to the state. It should be used to improve agriculture,” Thabane said.
Lesotho has a weak agricultural sector.
Only 10 percent of the country’s land area is arable. The country relies heavily on imports for grains and other foodstuffs.
A Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) report issued six years ago said agriculture in Lesotho was facing a catastrophic future.
The report predicted that crop production would continue to decline and could cease altogether if steps were not taken to reverse soil erosion, degradation and the decline in soil fertility.
Speaking at the same rally, the Member of Parliament for Mabote constituency, Thabang Nchai, refuted allegations that he was about to cross the floor to join the newly established Senkatana party.
“I will be the last person to cross the floor and will fall were my leader will fall,” Nchai told the rally.
The ABC, which is Lesotho’s biggest opposition party, was last December shaken to its foundation after the party’s deputy publicity secretary Lehlohonolo Tsehlana defected to form his own party.
Tsehlana’s defection came hardly five months after another senior party official, Moeketsi Tsatsanyane, also quit the party.
Tsehlana said the ABC under Thabane had lost direction.