MASERU — Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says he gave up power to avert a bloodbath and protect democracy.
Mosisili made the remarks while addressing his Democratic Congress (DC) supporters at a rally in Ha Mabote to explain why his party could not form government after winning 48 seats in the May 26 election.
This was the first public comment by Mosisili since he handed over the reins to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane last month.
Mosisili who steered the ship of state for almost 15 years said he decided to cede power to the coalition government “for the preservation and protection of democracy, Basotho and the country’s economy”.
“For these reasons, I advised the DC executive committee that it would be wise to pass the baton of governance to the coalition government,” Mosisili said.
“We chose to hand over the reins of power to the tripartite coalition to avoid bloodshed while we go back to the public that voted for us to thank them for their immeasurable support.”
The DC won 48 seats in the 120-member parliament while Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) won 30 seats.
The former ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) won 26 seats while the Basotho National Party (BNP) got five seats.
But with no party winning the required 61 seats to form government, the ABC, LCD and BNP quickly announced that they had cobbled a coalition deal.
Mosisili however insisted that as the winner, the DC should have been afforded the first opportunity to form a government instead of the ABC, LCD and BNP cobbling up their numbers “to push us aside”.
“The party which had won the election should have been allowed to form a government instead of the losers announcing to the King that they had formed a coalition,” Mosisili said.
“Let’s take England as an example. David Cameron’s Conservative Party won the election but did not garner enough numbers to form a government on its own. The party was given first priority to court coalition partners, a reflection of respect for the people’s vote.”
He said the coalition hijacked the public vote to form government.
“The losers ganged up against the winner to hijack the public vote and form a coalition,” Mosisili said.
“There is nothing wrong with the formation of a coalition government. But there’s a whole lot wrong with it if it’s formed solely to hijack the people’s vote. God would never bless such a union.”
Mosisili told his supporters at the rally in Ha Mabote that “there’s really no need for you to bow your heads in shame because in actual fact the DC won the May 26 election”.
Mosisili added that his party had resolved to be a fierce opposition “for people who have no legitimacy”.
“We’re going to give them a hard time because we will have a shadow minister for every ministry and attack from all corners,” Mosisili said.
He added that supporters of the congress movement would never forgive the LCD for giving the ABC and BNP parties which he said were of the nationalist ideology “the opportunity to govern Lesotho”.
“We always thought that members of the congress movement were steadfast in their support, but now the LCD has merged with the enemy to fight us,” Mosisili said.
“At least Basotho can today differentiate between genuine and fake congress supporters. What has happened should teach and convince us that democracy in Lesotho has enemies: they are still there, they haven’t given up.”
In response to Mosisili’s attack, the LCD secretary general Keketso Rantšo described the former premier’s statements as “merely words from a disillusioned and heartbroken man” because her party refused to merge with the DC to form a coalition.
“He’s a bitter man because we refused to form a coalition with the DC. We’d never have agreed to work with them because they are a bunch of dishonest and untrustworthy people,” Rantšo said.
“They also enslaved and hurt LCD supporters while also sowing divisions in the party for a very long time.”
Rantšo said their coalition with the ABC and BNP was by God’s design and it was shocking to hear Mosisili accusing them of undermining the congress movement “by working with nationalists”.
“It’s quite shocking to hear him say that because the LCD worked harmoniously with nationalists for years and never for once did he complain,” Rantšo said.
“For him to look down on the coalition is tantamount to insulting and undermining that which was decided by God. It was by God’s design that Lesotho would have a coalition government after the May 26 elections.”
“He’s talking ancient politics and very unfortunately for him, they don’t have a place in today’s society,” Rantšo said.