Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, on Tuesday met Maseru street vendors and taxi operators at Sefika Bus Stop, and urged them to vote for his party in the 28 February parliamentary elections.
Mr Metsing told the restive audience that should the LCD win the poll and he becomes prime minister, the construction of sheds initiated by Maseru City Council two years ago and Sefika Bus Stop’s paving would be prioritised.
The LCD leader told the group he never forgot about their plight when he became part of the coalition government as deputy premier and Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs minister in June 2012.
“I promised to improve your working conditions in 2012 and Council started building sheds where you could sell your products in comfort, as well as paving the bus stop to ensure a conducive environment. It’s true I didn’t finish the two projects but I am sure you are aware this was due to the fights between me and my partners in government. These fights led to this early election we are going to hold on Saturday, which is why I am here to appeal for your votes,” Mr Metsing said.
“Moving around the city made me aware of the adverse conditions you were facing on a daily basis, hence these interventions by council. I could see vendors were exposed to very hot conditions in summer and extremely cold weather in winter. They also complained about lack of storage facilities for their products, which resulted in their stock decomposing and loss of income. That’s why there were these interventions but unfortunately, like I said, the projects could not be finished because of the problems I had with the other parties in government, namely the ABC (All Basotho Convention) and BNP (Basotho National Party).”
However, one of the vendors, ‘Maremi ‘Mabathoana, told Mr Metsing that they could no longer trust him after letting them down over the past two years he was both deputy premier and also responsible for municipalities.
“When we gave you our votes, you started these projects you have mentioned but then decided not to complete them. How can we trust you that things will be different this time around?
“I, for one, had been so confident that you would do something for us when you took charge of the Local Government ministry under which the MCC falls, but for two years, you did nothing for poor people like us.
“The MCC Act of 1962 does not allow us to cook in our sheds, yet our customers need freshly-cooked food and they want to see it being prepared. We pay monthly fees to council, but nothing is being done to improve our plight; we continue to suffer, and now you say you want our votes. Is this fair?” Ms ‘Mabathoana asked.
Ms ‘Mabathoana further said she now understood why women turn to prostitution.
“They put their money into businesses hoping to earn an honest living, but because of restrictive laws, they find themselves running losses. With no one to help them, the women end up selling their bodies.”
Meanwhile, some of the taxi operators mockingly told Mr Metsing that he had visited their workstation without consulting them. This was in apparent reference to the LCD leader’s complaints that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was not consulting him when making key decisions in violation of their Coalition Agreement upon which the tripartite government was formed in June 2012. The complaints were among the reasons which led to the collapse of the government and elections two years ahead of schedule.
“You didn’t consult us before coming here so you should pay us if you want us to listen to you,” the operators shouted.
However, Mr Metsing remained calm throughout the derision and later told the group he had heard their concerns.
“We will address your issues if you give us your votes on Saturday,” he promised.