MOHALE’S HOEK –– Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last Sunday told ruling party supporters in Mohale’s Hoek to ignore next week’s stay-away that has been called by opposition parties.
Mosisili told about 4 000 supporters of his ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party that the 21 proportional representation (PR) seats at the centre of the current dispute were allocated lawfully.
The leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Thomas Thabane, last week called for an indefinite stay-away to pressure the government to resolve the dispute.
Thabane last week said the stay-away will go ahead as planned on Monday.
In a boisterous address punctuated by the chanting of party slogans Mosisili said people should ignore the strike and go about their business as usual.
“The courts of law have already decided on this issue (PR seats). The courts have also recommended that the electoral law should be amended.
“But that does not mean that the seats that were allocated under the present law are unlawful.
“They are lawful and we say no to whatever attempts are being made to destabilise the country on the basis of this issue,” Mosisili said.
The statement was greeted with deafening applause from LCD supporters who chanted: Ha li fofe!, the party’s slogan which means ‘let them fly!’
Mosisili said opposition leaders who called the strike did not give a hoot about the plight of ordinary people.
“These people (the opposition) have sufficient income to keep them alive but they want the vendors to abandon their jobs and support them in their strike and do nothing to help them survive.
“I urge you to be aware of their tricks. Let’s stand up and say no to their tricks,” Mosisili said.
The LCD has accused the ABC of double standards arguing that the opposition party also benefited from the allocation of the PR seats through its alliance with the Lesotho Workers Party.
Thabane has however hinted that his party was willing to withdraw its 10 Members of Parliament who are in the House by virtue of the PR seats allocation.
Mosisili said his party supported last year’s High Court recommendation to amend the electoral law.
He however rejected charges by Sir Ketumile Masire that his government had sabotaged the process of dialogue.
He also rejected opposition charges that his government had refused to engage electoral experts to help resolve the dispute on the application of the mixed member proportional representation model.
Mosisili said the LCD only objected to the engagement of Jorgen Elklit, a Danish professor of political science, as one of the electoral experts.
The prime minister said they had problems with the involvement of Elklit as he had initially been engaged by the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) as a witness in the disputed parliamentary seats court case.
“Later on Sir Ketumile Masire offered to use SADC funds to invite Elklit to assist to resolve the dispute yet he (Elklit) was initially engaged by MFP as a witness.
“What is that? We had to object and that is one of the reasons why Masire alleged that the government was not co-operative.
“Surely we could not agree to the engagement of Elklit because he was on the verge of testifying in court on behalf of the MFP,” Mosisili said.
The MFP in 2007 took the government to the High Court challenging the manner in which the PR seats were allocated.
The party lost the court case.
Mosisili’s statements last weekend could signify a hardening of stance by the government ahead of the stay-away.
With the government and the opposition both digging in there are fears that the stay-away could trigger an orgy of violence reminiscent of the 1998 political disturbances that saw major businesses in Maseru burnt down.