MASERU –– Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Metsing Lekhanya, says he will soon have national rallies to persuade former supporters that have defected to other parties to return to the party.
Addressing a poorly attended rally in Qoatsaneng on Sunday, Lekhanya told a crowd of about 150 supporters that he was planning to revive “the BNP spirit”.
“We are launching a series of political rallies to be held nationwide to revive the spirit of BNP,” Lekhanya said.
Lekhanya said those who thought the party was beyond redemption were misguided as he was on a mission to prove them wrong. He urged all supporters who had defected to rejoin the party.
“I urge all people who have since defected to come home, to rejoin BNP so that we can fight LCD’s poor governance in unison,” Lekhanya said.
Although there is no scientific survey that has been conducted, most BNP supporters are believed to have defected to the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
The former military supremo who toppled Leabua Jonathan’s government in 1986 said he will work hard to revive the ailing party.
Lekhanya also said parliament was a “spoilt dough which can never get right”.
“The current parliament is spoilt dough because of the distorted allocation of proportional representation seats. It can never become right,” Lekhanya said.
“BNP has always believed in dialogue. Talks on the PR issue conducted by the Lesotho Council of Churches have kicked off and we are optimistic that they will produce fruitful results.”
Lekhanya said a functional parliament was essential to ensure good governance.
“The fact that the parliament of Lesotho is dysfunctional has led to bad governance. My feeling at this point is that there is not much we can do except to pray,” Lekhanya said.
He said he would not want to see the country going back to the 1998 political chaos.
“We have been to “Freedom Square” (the gates of the Royal Palace) where brains were shattered and blood was shed. We do not want to go back there.
“We yearn for good governance and a solution to the PR issue. We have to fight for things to become right,” Lekhanya said.
Lekhanya accused the government of disregarding the constitution by deliberately refusing to recognise the official leader of the opposition in the national assembly.
“The official leader of the opposition is not recognised and so is the opposition at large. It is enshrined in the constitution that the opposition should be recognised by the ruling party.
“But we are not afforded befitting recognition by the LCD. But we are not surprised. The congress movement has not upheld that clause of the constitution since they took over,” he said.
Lekhanya also accused the government of empowering the Chinese and allowing them to snatch businesses from Basotho.
“This government has compromised the welfare of its people by giving the Chinese advantage over us. The Chinese are multiplying at a high rate and stealing businesses from Basotho,” Lekhanya said.
Lekhanya said the worst part was that “Chinese do not invest nor bank in Lesotho but in South Africa and that they take the money they generate in Lesotho back to their own countries”.
“They do not invest here. They just come here to exploit our labour and take money back to China. And this government is silent about it. Lesotho has failed to restrict foreign investment to large industries such as textiles,” he said.
He also alleged that the government was planning to pass a law allowing foreigners to own land in Lesotho.
“Not only have they sold national corporations and privatised businesses. Now they want to sell your soil to foreigners.
“There is no food in Lesotho and the fields are barren. People cannot afford fertilisers, seeds and basic agricultural necessities. This is where the government comes in,” he said.
He said when BNP was in power people never starved.
“The BNP administration fed people and gave out loans to farmers through the now defunct Agric Bank for improved farming,” he said.
Government spokesperson, Mothetjoa Metsing said he was not aware that the government was planning to bring a Bill that would allow foreigners to buy land in Lesotho.
“Our principle is commercialism, for foreigners to invest in land or use it as collateral in certain areas.
“But the principle will apply to only a select few and not all foreigners,” said Metsing.
Metsing refuted Lekhanya’s claims that the government was favouring the Chinese by allowing them to take small businesses from locals.
“Basotho do not have buying power, therefore if foreign-owned businesses were to be shut down people would lose their jobs,” Metsing said.
Metsing said the influx of the Chinese was a national issue which “affects people across the board and is therefore our problem as a whole”.
“Relevant laws need to be reviewed and limits set to their rights and the time they have to be in Lesotho to be entitled to citizenship.”