. . . as election day draws near
IF crowd sizes at last weekend’s political rallies is anything to go by, the battle for State house will likely be between the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Alliance-Lesotho Congress for Democracy axis.
Basotho will go to the polls on Saturday to choose their National Assembly representatives, and by implication, the country’s next prime minister after the collapse of the seven-party governing coalition.
Following the dissolution of the august house by King Letsie III on 6 March 2017 and His Majesty’s eventual proclamation of 3 June 2017 as election day, the country’s 30 registered political parties have been trying to win the hearts and minds of Basotho through campaign rallies.
Last weekend’s rallies were an opportunity for the main parties to showcase their crowd-pulling muscles and the ABC rally along with the DC-LCD rally stood out among the rest.
The ABC held its rally at the Pope John Paul ground near Maseru Mall, with tens of thousands of supporters coming to hear party leader Thomas Thabane speak.
While it was nearly impossible to ascertain the number of attendees at the rally, conservative estimates put the see of yellow at no less than 60 000. ABC supporters brought Maseru to a standstill, with some supporters perched at nearby hills to get a glimpse of the gathering and to soak up the atmosphere.
Dr Thabane has eyed an electoral “clean-sweep” in all 80 constituencies after an agreement with three other opposition parties to withdraw candidates for constituencies being contested by the leaders unravelled.
Equally impressive was the DC-LCD rally in Ha Foso which was also attended by tens of thousands of Congress Movement supporters.
The DC, LCD and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) inked an electoral pact to field one candidate for each of the country’s 80 constituencies to avoid vote splitting.
The DC will contest in 54 constituencies while the LCD was allocated 25. The three parties will also vote for PFD deputy leader, Thabang Kholumo, in his Qalo stronghold in Butha-Buthe.
The alliance’s strength in numbers showed in the masses of DC red punctuated by the black, green and red colours of the LCD which probably came close to the ABC crowd size.
The Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) held smaller, but formidable rallies with crowd sizes of up to 6 000 apiece.
However, elections experts have continually cautioned against reading too much on crowd sizes as oftentimes the attendees may not be registered to vote or may have been attracted by the entertainment provided at the rallies.
Meanwhile, opposition leaders have said they would keep a low profile ahead of the elections in light of security concerns.