BUTHA-BUTHE – Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane says he would do away with parliamentary floor-crossing should his party become government after the 28 February general elections.
Addressing a BNP campaign rally in Butha-Buthe on Sunday, Chief ‘Maseribane said the will of the electorate was being disregarded through floor-crossing, in which Members of Parliament (MPs) change their political parties or form new ones and take their seats with them.
“The feedback we are getting from the people is that some politicians are not taking the votes they would have been entrusted with seriously,” Chief ‘Maseribane said at the rally attended by party supporters from 13 Leribe and five Butha-Buthe constituencies.
“There is a desire by the electorate for their rights to be enshrined in the law, and the BNP would ensure it becomes a reality once in power.”
The BNP leader further noted a vote should be “a sacred trust” between the electorate and candidates, which must be protected.
“I believe politicians should not be free agents,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
“When they are voted into parliament representing a particular political party, the people who elected them expect MPs to stay put.”
Chief ‘Maseribane said it was time a law was enacted to regulate floor-crossing to ensure the electorate is not disenfranchised and ensure the people’s will prevails.
The BNP leader also said his party would push for a law compelling MPs who switch parties to relinquish their seats and contest a by-election.
“There have been a few high-profile instances of floor-crossing in this country that raised eyebrows and contributed to bringing the country to where it is now,” Chief ‘Maseribane, who is also Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation minister, said.
He added the practice is undemocratic since an MP would have been elected by his or her constituents as a member of a particular party. Changing parties, Chief ‘Maseribane surmised, runs counter to the wishes of the electorate.
“The reality is nobody votes for a candidate without considering what party he or she belongs to,” he said.
“It would be a slap in the voter’s face when elected representatives join another party without seeking approval.
“Party platforms are value-statements, and Basotho connect with those values. Basotho know there are differences in the values of political parties; they know the BNP is not the ABC (All Basotho Convention). It is a grave injustice to treat their choices and political values as though they have no consequence. It is an insult to their intelligence.”
According to Chief ‘Maseribane, voters are, more often than not, partisan and not particular about local representatives of their chosen party.
“They use their vote as a proxy for the party leader they prefer and would like to see as a prime minister,” he said.
In the recently dissolved eighth parliament, two MPs crossed the floor from the ABC. Former Koro-Koro legislator, Thabiso Litšiba, joined the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) from the ABC, while former Justice and Correctional Services Minister Mophato Monyake also quit the ABC and formed the Progressive Democrats which is among the 23 parties contesting the upcoming elections.
Meanwhile, Chief ‘Maseribane also said a BNP-led government would ensure the prime minister does not serve more than two, five-year terms.
“Many countries are precise and clear on the two-term tenure of their heads of state and government,” he said.
“But here, the prime minister can be in office for as long as he or she is being elected. This has to change and the tenure limited for the development of our country.”