QACHA’S NEK — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has pledged to improve Lesotho’s relations with South Africa to allow Basotho freedom of movement at the country’s borders.
Mothetjoa Metsing, the newly elected LCD leader, told party supporters at a rally in Qacha’s Nek, that it was clear from the snaking queues at South Africa’s borders with Lesotho that something was wrong.
“The bad treatment we get at the borders is indicative of the fact that something is wrong between the two countries,” Metsing said.
“To make matters even worse, some border posts are closed early thus inconveniencing many Basotho.”
Metsing said because Lesotho was landlocked by South Africa, relations between the two needed to be improved to benefit Basotho.
“The situation can be remedied only by improving the ailing relations with South Africa,” Metsing said.
Metsing was elected LCD leader after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili defected from the former ruling party to form his own Democratic Congress (DC) after two years of a bitter factional battles in February.
The LCD leader said if voted into power on May 26 his government will consult the public on what should be done regarding dual citizenship.
According to Metsing, public opinion on the matter was divided because there were those who were calling for the constitutional clause against dual citizenship to be scrapped while others were of the view that its removal would threaten Lesotho’s sovereignty.
“But public input will help in making an informed decision, more especially because there are those who are against dual citizenship while at the same time enjoying its benefits,” Metsing said.
Thousands of Basotho, including those in political leadership, have still not relinquished their Lesotho citizenship despite holding South African identity documents.
Mosisili also told a DC rally on Saturday that it was imperative to work on improving relations with South Africa so that Basotho can enjoy freedom of movement at the borders.
LCD manifesto highlights
Review of the policy on natural resources
Metsing said the LCD will review the policy on natural resources, particularly with regard to diamond mining whereby investors currently get 70 percent of profits while Lesotho gets the remaining 30 percent.
“Lesotho needs to revise the status quo and do the right thing for the nation’s diamonds, to avoid the possibility of civil wars borne of conflict around natural resources,” Metsing said.
“This has to be reviewed in a manner that the investor gets 49 percent of the proceeds made while Lesotho gets 51 percent.”
Metsing said there was already discontent and public anger was flaring up as people demand to know how the diamond wealth generated in the country is being used
Metsing said the only way to come up with sustainable mechanisms for tackling unemployment would be to create jobs throughout the country based on the natural resources of each district.
The LCD leader said districts like Qacha’s Nek, Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka, despite high rates of livestock theft, were capable of producing wool and mohair in abundance hence the need to build factories there.
“We will build factories to improve wool production. But that we can only achieve by first averting stock-theft which is rife,” Metsing said.
“We can do that by equipping the police with helicopters and other tools to assist in apprehending thieves. People have been rendered poor because of stock-theft.”
Metsing said the LCD would inject funds into agriculture to generate jobs and feed people.
HIV/Aids is Basotho’s biggest enemy because medication dictated that patients should eat well to remain healthy.
“But the situation now is that most people are forced to take their medication on empty stomachs because they don’t have food. We will fix this by producing food for our people,” Metsing said.
The current sad reality was that some people were living from hand-to-mouth and forced to go to bed on an empty stomach.