Thabane accused of vote buying

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

ALL Basotho Convention leader, Thomas Thabane has been accused of vote buying in Mohale’s Hoek ahead of the 3 June elections.

This follows Dr Thabane and his wife, ‘MaIsiah’s donation of goods to 35 elderly and disabled people in Mohale’s Hoek.

The donations were made at the ABC’s Sunday rally which was attended by an estimated 10 000 people as the former Prime Minister intensified his campaign to win back power from the outgoing seven parties coalition headed by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

The goods included 12.5 kilogrammes of wheat flour, 12.5 kg of maize meal, 5 litres of paraffin, 5 litres of cooking oil, 2kg washing powder, paraffin heaters and mink blankets.

The beneficiaries also received branded ABC caps.

However, the Democratic Congress (DC) candidate for Mohale’s Hoek, Tšepang Lengoasa whose DC colleague Serialong Qoo was last week censured for vote buying by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), took exception to the donation and filed a complaint with the IEC.

Communications Minister, Qoo, who is also DC candidate for Malingoaneng, was last Tuesday found guilty of vote buying and the charges arose out of the donations he made on 13 March.

He donated 33 computers to Mapholaneng Primary and High schools in the constituency in Mokhotlong.

The IEC Tribunal gave Mr Qoo a formal warning.

The donation, according to the Tribunal’s ruling, was in direct contravention of section 64 of the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011, which prohibits candidates from buying votes during the election period.

Part of section 64 provides that a political party “shall take the responsibility to ensure that its candidates and office bearers do not abuse their positions for the purpose of their elections campaigns.”

Prior to the Thabane donation on Sunday, ABC Chairperson Kemiso Mosenene sought to justify the act by claiming the ABC was only continuing a tradition of donating they started before Dr Thabane fled into exile in South Africa in 2015, claiming there was an army plot against his life.

“Today the office of the first lady is occupied by someone from Qacha’s Nek who is doing nothing while ’M’e ‘Maesaea stopped donating after she was forced to flee the country.

“She shall be giving out such even after the elections. This is not vote-buying in any way,” Mr Mosenene said.

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