- Alleges party was formed by the British to resist Lesotho’s independence in 1966
- BNP hits back calling premier ‘a pathetic liar who distorts information for propaganda purposes’
MOKHOTLONG – Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says Basotho National Party (BNP) founder and the first premier of independent Lesotho Leabua Jonathan was a lackey of the British who turned a blind eye to his “atrocities” to undermine Lesotho’s independence.
Dr Mosisili also says voting for the BNP in the 3 June 2017 general elections would be tantamount to returning the country to the “dark era” of nationalist rule.
However, BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo has hit back at Dr Mosisili, saying the premier was “a pathetic liar, who likes to distort information for propaganda purposes”.
Dr Mosisili made the claims while addressing hundreds of Democratic Congress (DC) supporters over the weekend during a joint rally for the Malingoaneng and Senqu constituencies in Mapholaneng, Mokhotlong.
The rally was meant to campaign for votes ahead of the upcoming snap elections.
Mokhotlong is divided into four electoral constituencies, namely Malingoaneng No.77, Senqu No.78, Mokhotlong No.79 and Bobatsi No.80.
The DC won Malingoaneng and Senqu constituencies during the 28 February 2015 elections, while the Mokhotlong and Bobatsi constituencies were won by the main opposition All Basotho Convention.
The rally was also attended by a sizable number of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) supporters and officials.
The DC, LCD and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) recently forged a pact to field one candidate for each of the country’s 80 constituencies citing a need to avoid vote splitting.
Under the pact, the DC will contest in 54 constituencies while the LCD was allocated 25. The PFD will field a single candidate in its Qalo stronghold in Butha-Buthe.
Dr Mosisili appealed to the congress movement supporters to shun their nationalist nemeses, particularly the BNP, which he said was established by the British to undermine Lesotho’s independence.
Lesotho was a British protectorate from 1913 until independence in 1966. Chief Jonathan was Lesotho’s prime minister from 1965 to 1986 when the BNP government was overthrown in a military coup.
The BNP leadership, Dr Mosisili said, had never supported the idea of Basotho taking over full control of the country from the British.
“The congress movement was established by Ntate Ntsu Mokhehle and his partners to free Basotho from British rule,” he said.
“But, because the British people who were in government at the time didn’t like the prospect of the congress parties ruling, they came together with the English priests at that time to form the BNP.”
Dr Mosisili said the British only called Chief Jonathan to lead the party after it was already formed.
“The party was established by the Englishmen. They called Chief Leabua because they worked together with the chiefs,” he said.
“Chief Leabua was deputised by Chief Sekhonyana ’Maseribane. They (British) formed the BNP to fight the BCP (Basotho Congress Party led by Dr Mokhehle), which sought to oust the Englishmen from Lesotho. We wanted them out because they had dismally failed to empower Basotho.”
He said it was “unfortunate” that the 1965 elections were won by the BNP.
“They won because he (Chief Jonathan) was fully supported by the Englishmen and the priests who worked very hard to ensure the BNP was the winner against the BCP.
“Therefore, Lesotho’s independence, which came the following year in 1966, started off on the wrong foot under a nationalist regime. The nationalists didn’t support the idea of Lesotho’s independence from the English.”
Dr Mosisili said this was the reason Chief Jonathan refused to step down after losing the 1970 elections.
“Chief Leabua, supported by the English, was not ready to accept defeat. He declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution instead. Basotho entered a dark era in which their basic human rights were violated. A lot of people were killed, while some Basotho were literally buried alive in places like Lipeketheng at Hlotse in Leribe district. Those were the acts of the nationalists.”
The premier said he also bore the brunt of the BNP government’s “cruelty”.
“I was arrested in 1970 and imprisoned for a year and three months without any charges levelled against me and my congress colleagues,” Dr Mosisili said.
“I was an active youth league member of the BCP who had just completed his BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree examinations at the National University of Lesotho when I was arrested and detained. That’s how the nationalists were so cruel to us.”
He said voting for the BNP would be tantamount to “repeating the same mistakes of the last 50 years of Lesotho’s independence”.
“Last year, we celebrated 50 years of Lesotho’s independence and we have now begun another journey. Like I said, we started the first journey on a wrong foot under a nationalist regime. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake by starting another 50-year journey under a government of nationalists.
“Chief Leabua and the nationalists ruled without any elections from 1970 up until 1986 when their government was overthrown by the military. The military council then prepared for the elections to be held in 1993, which were won outright by the BCP again.”
Dr Mosisili said the rule of congress regimes was characterised by elections every five years from 1993.
“In their regime, the nationalists held elections only once, in 1970, since 1965, and they lost.
“If you could sit down and draw a comparison chart between the nationalists and the congress regimes, and include all developments contributed to your lives by the two regimes, you will definitely realise we are a better government. Our list of developments is longer than theirs.”
He added: “Our emphasis has always been on education. There is nothing as important as education in life. This is why we have introduced free primary education for all Basotho children.
“We have even empowered teachers. During the nationalists’ regime, teachers could not afford cars. Principals only drove school vehicles. “Today many teachers have bought cars because we have empowered them with improved wages.”
He also said during nationalist rule, government bursaries were only offered to students studying at the university level.
“But when we came in, we introduced bursaries to all tertiary students including colleges,” he said.
For secondary and high school students, Dr Mosisili said they subsidised on their book fees.
“In Lesotho, there is no other government which built as many schools as the government of the congress movement. That’s the naked truth. “During the nationalists’ and the British regime, there were no government schools but only those schools that belong to churches. But in our regime, we have not only developed and capacitated church schools; we have also built many government schools.”
The DC leader said they were going to “teach the nationalists a lesson” in the upcoming elections.
“They are underestimating us and getting on our nerves. How dare the nationalists believe we could start our second journey of independence on a wrong foot the same way we did in 1965!
“We cannot repeat that mistake in 2017. They take advantage of our endless splits. That should stop,” he said, amid applause from the crowd.
However, Chief Molapo, yesterday said Dr Mosisili’s assertions were “pathetic propaganda”.
“Ntate Mosisili is a pathetic liar. He believes he can fool every Mosotho with his distorted information and propaganda,” the BNP deputy leader said.
“It is not true that the BNP leadership was against Lesotho’s independence. Ntate Mosisili also made a blatant lie by claiming the BNP was established by the British.”
He said Chief Jonathan supported the “liberation aspirations of the African people”.
“That is why he left the congress movement and formed the BNP. The congress leaders were the ones who connived with the Boers to destabilise Dr Leabua’s government that was elected democratically through free and fair elections in 1965.”
He said Chief Jonathan was overthrown by the military in 1986 because of two issues.
“Firstly, Dr Leabua supported the liberation aspirations of the African people. And secondly, he refused to compromise Basotho interests over the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in favour of the Boers. The Boers sponsored the congress army wing and the military to overthrow Chief Leabua’s government because they had an interest in the highlands water project.”
Chief Molapo dared Dr Mosisili to ask the United Nations (UN) to carry out investigations on the allegations of people who were buried alive in Hlotse.
“Ntate Mosisili knows very well that if a country has experienced mass killings and the burying of people alive, the authorities can invite the UN to conduct investigations,” he said, adding, “If those investigations prove that to be true, the perpetrators are taken to task. Ntate Mosisili is a blatant liar whose days as prime minister are numbered.”