MAPUTSOE — Lesotho will not allow foreigners to intervene in the dispute surrounding the issue of proportional representation seats in parliament, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has said.
Mosisili said the dispute over the allocation of proportional representation seats was now a closed subject.
He was addressing about 8 000 supporters of his Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party at a rally in Maputsoe last Sunday.
“I said no before and I still maintain that no foreign experts will be called to intervene in the matter. No foreign experts are in a position to change or overrule the constitution of this country,” Mosisili said.
Lesotho was plunged into political crisis after the 2007 general elections as parties haggled over the allocation of proportional representation seats in parliament.
The Independent Electoral Commission allocated 21 of the 40 proportional representation seats to the LCD-allied National Independent Party (NIP) and 10 to the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP), an ally of the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
Six other smaller parties were also awarded seats.
Opposition parties led by the ABC disputed the allocations which they said favoured the ruling party.
The dispute, which was referred to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for mediation, has lingered on since then.
Mosisili said the proportional representation seats issue was being used by opposition parties to sow confusion among Basotho.
He said the nation and the courts had spoken on the issue adding that it was high time the matter was laid to rest.
“I will not change my mind on this one,” Mosisili told the party supporters.
“Why is this issue being pursued despite court rulings?”
Mosisili warned opposition parties against fomenting chaos in the country.
He said there were politicians who had been threatening to turn Lesotho into another Madagascar if things did not go their way.
Madagascar was plunged into political crisis last March after an opposition leader ousted the country’s elected president with the help of the army.
Mosisili said opposition politicians will never replicate such a scenario in Lesotho.
“They will never achieve that, no way! No one can push this country into instability. For those who wish to spoil the peace reigning in Lesotho, may their God forgive them!” Mosisili said.
In a stunning U-turn from his earlier position on farming, Mosisili told the party supporters to go back to the land and improve their farmlands.
He said his government would through the ministry of agriculture donate 30 percent of seeds and manure towards farming this winter.
“We cannot live on hand-outs forever. We have to adopt the spirit of self-sufficiency. If we base our hopes on foreign donations, those nations will eventually control us,” said Mosisili.
Mosisili said people should promote the culture of self-sufficiency starting with their backyards.
“Let us begin in our own backyards, by producing vegetable gardens. Charity begins at home!” said Mosisili.
Mosisili’s stance on agriculture this time around must have come as a surprise to party supporters.
Mosisili publicly questioned in parliament whether it was wise for the government to continue allocating money to agriculture when it “was clear that we are not getting our money’s worth.”
He also said it was clear that Basotho were not interested in farming triggering howls of protest from opposition benches.
The Maputsoe rally saw the ruling party welcome former All Basotho Convention (ABC) supporters who defected to the LCD this month.
Ruling party youths who were in an exuberant mood sang songs denouncing ABC leader Tom Thabane for attempting to cripple the LCD.
“Une u li etsang linotsí tsa Semana Thabane,” (What were you doing to LCD’s swarm of bees, Thabane?), they sang.
In a speech laced with Biblical connotations, Mosisili likened the event to a herder who left 99 sheep and went out into the wilderness to seek one lost sheep.
“One man usually says he does not care when people desert his political party. But I say, “I do care when people defect from my party,” said Mosisili.
Nkhetsé Monyalotsa, MP for Maputsoe constituency, who quit the ABC to rejoin the LCD in April said he was happy to be “back home.”
“It was cold where I came from; it is such a huge contrast from where I stand today,” said Monyalotsa who was accompanied by his wife.
Former ABC officials, Mookho Mathibeli, ‘Maboiketlo Maliehe, ‘Masenate Tsolo and Mmamoleboheng Motleleng also attended the rally.
The former ABC members said they quit the opposition party in protest over Thabane’s “dictatorial leadership style”.
“Thabane is a power-monger who places his favourites in high positions knowing full well that they cannot defy him or go against his word even when he is in the wrong.
“We are leaving the ABC because we miss home. We miss the warmth of the LCD,” Mathibeli said.
But the biggest surprise at the rally was the presence of Hape Tsakatse.
Tsakatse made a name for himself during PC FM radio station’s programme, Thahameso, were he criticised Mosisili’s government for alleged incompetence.
Tsakatse said he had also quit the ABC to rejoin the LCD.
“I was an independent political analyst who just volunteered to do good for the party (ABC). It took two years of deliberation for me to leave ABC,” said Tsakatse.
Moliehi Thipe, a former ABC youth activist from Taung constituency (56), said she was happy to see more people turning their backs on the ABC.
“This is a happy day for me. I cannot contain the pride I feel to see more people getting the message that ABC is not a worthy political home,” said Thipe.