‘Widening gap’ between rich and poor worries PM

Billy Ntaote

LERIBE — Prime Minister and All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, was in Mphosong on Sunday where he launched his party’s campaign for the parliamentary by-election to be soon held in the constituency.

The launch took place in the Matlameng village — one of the most underdeveloped and hard-to-reach parts of the Leribe district.
However, Dr Thabane told about 1 500 people who turned up for the rally that the reason why the area was so undeveloped was due to their previous “wrong” choice of Members of Parliament (MPs).
In 2012, Bataung Leleka of the Democratic Congress (DC) won the constituency and his death last month, meant a by-election would need to be held to fill the post.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has, however, not yet announced a date for the by-election.
“You should vote for an ABC candidate, as this is the only party in this country that is committed to bringing the development that you have been denied since independence (in 1966),” Dr Thabane said.

Among the many challenges the Matlameng residents face are poor roads and bridges, and inadequate healthcare facilities and schools. The residents find it difficult to travel during the rainy seasons because of the gravel roads which are in very poor condition, and cannot cross the Morotong and Morotoaneng rivers when in flood, due to lack of proper bridges.
This leaves the residents stranded and unable to access clinics and schools, among other basic necessities, when it rains heavily in the area.
But Dr Thabane said Mr Leleka was not to blame for this desperate state of the area as he was a “newcomer”.

“Since independence, Lesotho has been struggling to close the gap between the rich and poor, which was created when the educated among us, took control of the state-apparatus from the British.
“We occupied government houses and started sending our children to schools formerly attended by the colonial masters’ children and that left a huge gap, and created inequality within our society.
“The worst part was the coming into office of (Pakalitha) Mosisili (in May 1998 as leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy), which brought in a congress party.
“His government is the reason why Lesotho is such an unequal society today. But this is what we are hoping to address as part of the coalition government. We are determined to bridge this gap between the rich and poor.”

Dr Thabane further said the people of Matlameng should not blame Mr Leleka.
“Mr Leleka was a newcomer in politics, so you should focus on the promises made to you by Mosisili, which never materialised.
“You should vote for someone who is going to account to you as the people of Mphosong; someone who will deliver on all his or her promises.
“We want someone who will address your grievances and end your plight to be voted the new MP for Mphosong, and that candidate can only be from the ABC,” he said, amid applause from the audience.

Dr Thabane then turned to his entourage, which comprised MPs, ministers and deputy ministers and members of the ABC National Executive Committee (NEC), and asked them to ensure the Matlameng people’s “suffering” came to an end.
“What I’m saying here should not just turn out to be political rhetoric; the people of this area deserve change in their lives.”
The premier also lashed out at the “lies” that were being peddled during the “colonial” era.
“The colonialists used to say Lesotho did not have any resources but just mountains, and very little arable land.
“Today, the same mountains, which we were told were useless, are a source of water, whose transfer to South Africa is now bringing us millions of maloti in royalties.
“We also have diamond mines in these mountains and our sheep, which are a good source of the world’s wool, graze in these vast acres of pasture in the highlands we were told were useless.
“That is why we should protect these mountains as they have turned out to be our greatest source of revenue.”
Party chairman, Motlohi Maliehe, also urged the community to vote for an ABC candidate in the by-election.

“Having an ABC MP will make it easy for him to communicate whatever development plans he might have with government since we are a party in government,” Mr Maliehe said.
The ABC formed a coalition government with the LCD and Basotho National Party (BNP) after the 26 May 2012 general election produced a hung parliament.

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