‘Selling land as good as prostitution’

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ThabaneMOHALE’S HOEK — Main opposition leader Thomas Thabane says selling land to foreigners would be tantamount to prostitution.
Thabane said the Land Bill (2009) which is currently before parliament will have serious negative implications for Basotho.
Thabane made the remarks as he addressed about 700 All Basotho Convention (ABC) party supporters in Mohale’s Hoek last Sunday.
“Selling our land to foreigners is tantamount to prostitution. Consenting to the commercialisation of our land is as good as buying sex instead of engaging in it consensually,” Thabane said.
He said he could not understand why Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was pushing the Bill when it was clear that it would have negative repercussions for Basotho.
“How can we prostitute with our land? How can Mosisili go out of his way to convince people that selling their land would not backfire on them?” Thabane said.
Thabane said land issues were a serious matter that could not be left to the whims of politicians.
He said it was wrong to pressure people to give up their land in exchange for money.
“Land issues should be handled with care as they are sensitive. Agreements regarding land should be consensual and not done in exchange for money.
“It’s like buying sex instead of engaging in it in a consensual fashion,” he said.
Thabane said the only way to stop the government from selling the nation’s land would be to fiercely oppose the Land Bill and stop it from being passed into law.
He said he was however not surprised that the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) government was on a crusade to sell everything in the country.
“I am actually not surprised that they are on a voyage of selling everything that is proudly Lesotho.
“They even sold Lesotho Airways to the whites. It was then that I realised I would end up looking like a fool if I stayed with the LCD,” Thabane said.
Thabane, who was minister of communications, science and technology, quit the LCD in October 2006 in protest over corruption.
The ABC leader also lashed out at the Public Meetings and Processions Bill 2009 which is also before parliament.
The law will require people to first seek permission from the police before they can hold a public meeting or procession.
The Bill gives the police commander or headman of a particular area powers to deny granting permission to individuals seeking to hold meetings in their areas.
Legal experts have condemned the proposed law as an undemocratic piece of legislation that will be used to clamp down on political opponents.
Thabane said the Public Meetings and Processions Bill 2009 will be met with fierce resistance.
“We should meet it (Bill) with a great deal of resistance. Instead of cowering under pressure we should hold more rallies. We are not playing, we mean business here,” Thabane said.
The ABC leader said his party was already on a campaign to lobby the public to oppose the Bill “because it goes against the constitution of this country”.
“We are asking the government to seriously reconsider its attempt to pass the Public Meetings and Processions Bill 2009 into law,” Thabane said.
Thabane appealed to supporters to join hands and speak with one voice “because that is the only way we can be heard”.
“Your strength emanates from solidarity. You have to be one in all you say and do, for nothing can stand in your way when you are resolute in your struggle,” he said.
Makhahlo Mohale-Rabele (pictured), who is the chairperson of the youth committee, said the youth should invest their hope in the ABC.
“Please do not be afraid to join the ABC in your multitudes. Hope is in the youth because no political party can prosper without them. Youth are the backbone of any political party,” Mohale-Rabele said.
She said it was unfortunate that youths were roaming the streets because of lack of jobs.
“Youth are scattered all over the place without much to do except to get drunk heightening the level of crime.
“It’s up to us as the youth to seek that which improves our lives and holds for us the guarantee of a good future. ABC is such a place,” she said.
Contacted for comment, government spokesman and LCD secretary-general, Mothetjoa Metsing, said Thabane was “entitled to his own opinion”.
“Thabane is entitled to his opinion. But I beg to differ with him when he says commercialising land is tantamount to prostitution,” Metsing said.
He said the Land Bill was a result of commissions set up in the past to investigate the country’s land tenure system.
“Take the Ramolibeli Commission for instance. The result of its investigation was that Lesotho’s land tenure system needed to be reviewed in order for land to benefit this nation.
“It has been verified that Lesotho’s failure to use land to full capacity is one of the reasons why the country has failed to prosper economically,” Metsing said.
He said it was misleading to tell the public that land would be taken away from them under the proposed law.
“We have to use our land in a manner that will enable us to fight poverty. When foreigners come and develop the land, that increases the asset base of the country,” Metsing said.
“It is therefore totally wrong to give the public the impression that foreigners will strip them of their land.”
Metsing said reviewing the land tenure system would help attract more investors into the country as they would feel more secure.
On the Public Meetings and Processions Bill 2009, Metsing said he was not surprised by the ABC’s reaction.
“The ABC has always found reasons to fight since the 2007 elections. But parliament will give them a platform to argue and persuade the government, for their opinions to be incorporated into the Bill,” Metsing said.
“The main purpose of the Bill is to maintain peace and stability and protect the public and property,” Metsing said.

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