DEPUTY leader of the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Thabang Kholumo has said the outgoing coalition government deserves credit for saving Basotho from degrading treatment and deportation from neighbouring South Africa (SA).
The PFD is one of the seven parties in the outgoing coalition government along with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
Speaking during the LCD rally in the Hololo Constituency in Butha-Buthe district early this week, Mr Kholumo said his party had chosen to align themselves with the congress parties because they put Basotho’s interests first.
He said as a result, Basotho had enjoyed their stay in South Africa over the past two years that they were in government because they successfully negotiated the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP which allows Basotho to legally reside, work and study in South Africa) with their South African counterparts.
The seven parties’ coalition government which has been in charge since 2015, was toppled by last month’s no confidence vote by the opposition bloc.
Consequently, His Majesty King Letsie III dissolved parliament and announced 3 June 2017 as the date for national elections, the third in five years.
In his address during Sunday’s election campaign rally, Mr Kholumo said, “During our term in government we were able to assist Basotho from being deported and their lives were safer as they were able to live freely and got their wages without any hustle”.
Mr Kholumo said at its inception, the outgoing government adopted the PFD manifesto on free movement across borders and “fortunately afterwards, PFD leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane became Home Affairs Minister and he started negotiations with the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba which led to the granting of the LSP”.
“For the first time Basotho living in SA were free from deportations or torture by the SA police. All this has happened during our time in government.
“Basotho living SA are now free and can cross bordered at a time without any fear of overstaying in SA. We have facilitated for them to live and work freely because the interests and wellbeing of our people comes first,” he said.
He said before then, Basotho faced several challenges, including underpayment or being denied their wages by employers who simply tipped off the police to arrest them for illegally staying in SA without proper documentation.
“After our interventions, that’s all yesterday’s news. We are very proud because there were no reports of Basotho having to spend Christmas or Easter holidays in Lindela detention (in Johannesburg)”.
He said apart from helping South African based Basotho, the outgoing government had also done “sod turning for the construction of factories for the washing and processing of mohair before export”.
He said the government had been brought down by power hungry individuals.
He said they would continue with their development plans after being re-elected in June.