ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, has called on party agents to be vigilant to ensure the ABC does not lose out to rigging by its opponents in the upcoming general elections set for 3 June 2017.
Dr Thabane made the call while addressing thousands of party supporters at a rally in Butha-Buthe early this week.
The rally was held to drum up support for the ABC ahead of the high stakes snap elections that were announced by King Letsie III in the aftermath of the opposition bloc’s successful no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition government on 1 March.
Dr Thabane said his party’s agents should remain vigilant to thwart any attempts by other parties to rig the polls through the stuffing of ballot boxes.
“During that (election) day do not blink because if you do there are opportunists who will use your absence to their advantage,” Dr Thabane said.
“When you decide to go outside (the polling station) make sure that there is someone you left inside to watch carefully for the opportunists who can secretly stuff the ballot box with marked ballot papers. So you must be very careful.”
For his part, the Deputy Director of Elections at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mphasa Mokhochane told the Lesotho Times that Dr Thabane was within his rights to caution his supporters against rigging.
He said every party was allowed two agents at every voting station so that if one decided to go out, another would remain behind to observe everything happening in the polling station.
“Dr Thabane is simply asking supporters to be vigilant and that is right,” Mr Mokhochane said.
He however, said it was highly unlikely that anyone could stuff the boxes with ballot papers as each ballot paper had unique serial numbers for security reasons.
“In addition, there will be agents of different political parties and IEC officials at all polling stations.
“It is inconceivable that all these people would allow such a thing to happen,” Mr Mokhochane said.
Dr Thabane also used the occasion to reiterate that his party would contest all 80 electoral constituencies on its own and only enter into a post-election alliance for a coalition government with other parties in the event of failing to secure an outright win.
He said they would approach a party “with something tangible when we realise that we do not have the numbers needed to form government”.
“Let’s not worry about other political parties and focus on the ABC for now.”
Turning to other issues, Dr Thabane said human rights, rights of persons with disabilities, fighting crime and corruption were priority issues for the ABC.
He condemned sexual harassment and rape, saying no one had a right to subject others to such crimes.
He castigated men who raped their spouses because they believed marriage gave them the rights to do as they pleased.
“As I speak of human rights, I want to tell you women are always raped and sadly they are also raped by their partners.
“Women have rights and they must be willing for sexual intercourse to take place with the partner and they should not be forced,” Dr Thabane said.
“If there is no agreement between the two adults then it shouldn’t happen. If the man is mentally stable he must leave the woman alone and try ‘next door’ because it would have been clear that he is not wanted there,” Dr Thabane said.
“I therefore appeal to you men who are followers of ABC, if I hear that anyone of you is a rapist I will name and shame you at one of our big rallies like this one,” Dr Thabane said.
He said it was unacceptable for women to always live in fear of for their lives to the extent of fearing to go to church or anywhere else at night because of men who lurked in the shadows to harass them.