BUTHA-BUTHE – THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has been warned to be vigilant in protecting its support base from new political parties ahead of the 3 June 2017 general elections.
This was said by the party’s losing primary election candidate in the Hololo constituency, Ntsatsana Phera, during his concession speech last Sunday.
The winner, Tlokotsi Manyooko, also beat Mamahele Radebe who was the constituency’s legislator for the ABC in the recently dissolved National Assembly.
Mr Phera said the ABC could not afford to be complacent since young party supporters were being wooed by new political entrants such as the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) “with t-shirts and other freebies”.
The AD was formed last December by former Democratic Congress deputy leader Monyane Moleleki while the MEC was launched in February this year by former Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary-general Selibe Mochoboroane.
The ABC, Mr Moleleki, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho had signed a coalition pact on 24 November 2016 to oust the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven party coalition government in parliament.
Under the agreement, Mr Moleleki would lead the coalition for the first 18 months upon forming government and thereafter trade places with ABC leader and former premier Thomas Thabane who would initially be deputy prime minister.
While their objective of collapsing the government was achieved through a parliamentary no-confidence vote on 1 March 2017, the opposition bloc’s other goal of immediately forming a new government was dashed after Dr Mosisili advised King Letsie III to dissolve parliament.
His Majesty acquiesced to the advice to dissolve parliament on 6 March 2017 and days later proclaimed 3 June 2017 as election day.
The ABC has since decided to field candidates in all the country’s 80 constituency seats without joining forces with its opposition allies despite the DC, LCD and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) having forged an electoral pact.
Under the pact, the DC will contest in 54 constituencies while the LCD will fight in 25 to avoid vote splitting. The PFD will field a single candidate in its stronghold of Qalo in Butha-Buthe.
Dr Thabane recently stated that they would only come up with another alliance after the votes had been counted and the performance of other potential coalition parties tested.
In his remarks, Mr Phera urged ABC stalwarts to “wake up from their slumber” of not realising the effect the new parties were having on their support base.
He said the solidarity between the opposition bloc parties should not come at the cost of reducing the ABC’s electoral support, adding that party supporters should stop wearing other parties’ regalia.
“We should be independent and work hard to ensure our followers remain in the party and don’t get attracted to other parties,” said Mr Phera, adding that he would wholeheartedly support the primary election winner Mr Manyooko.
“Let’s work hard and ensure that our new candidate wins this constituency. We have to make sure that we bring Ntate Thabane enough seats to ensure he is the next prime minister.”
For his part, Mr Manyooko, who is a former Bokoro High School teacher, urged the ABC faithful to unite so as to ensure the party wins the constituency.
He promised to improve the living conditions of the Hololo constituency residents if elected into the National Assembly.
Mr Manyooko also vowed to use the M500 000 interest-free loans given to legislators for developmental projects in the constituency and not for personal use.
“That half a million maloti people are always arguing about is yours if I am elected,” he said.
“All you have to do is come up with various projects that can be funded by that money. If we lose on 3 June, then you would have lost the M500 000.”