BEREA – ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane has pleaded for unity in the party ahead of next month’s elections, saying divisions would affect the party’s chances of winning more than 60 constituencies required for an outright majority that is needed to form government.
Dr Thabane said this early this week while addressing a rally in Berea ahead of the national elections on 3 June.
The polls were announced by King Letsie III in the aftermath of the 1 March 2017 parliamentary no-confidence vote by the opposition against the seven parties’ coalition government headed by Democratic Congress leader, Pakalitha Mosisili.
The ABC won 40 constituency seats in the last elections on 28 February 2015.
Dr Thabane who is the ABC candidate for the Abia constituency implored the party faithful to desist from fomenting divisions through slandering each other.
“Stop gossiping about each other because gossip will negatively affect the number of our votes come June 3,” Dr Thabane said.
“The big numbers that we always pull at our rallies mean nothing when we are not united. We are simply lying to ourselves. Stop fighting and pulling each other down, we need to remain united at all times.
“Look me in the eye and tell me the truth and I will retire. Allow me to rest if you are sitting there sowing divisions in the party.
“I condemn this wholeheartedly and I will not pretend on this matter. We must remain united at all times and do only what identifies with Kobo-tata (pet name for ABC members) ideologies which are fighting poverty, hunger and corruption,” he said.
Dr Thabane’s remarks came against the background of reports of disquiet among supporters after the party conducted primary election elections in some of the constituencies to choose party candidates for the upcoming polls.
ABC chairperson Motlohi Maliehe had insisted that everything had gone smoothly but sources within the party who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity last month said the results of some of the primary elections had been challenged by party members citing irregularities.
And on Sunday, Dr Thabane implored candidates to remain humble, saying that being chosen to represent the party did not imply that they were better than others.
He said representing ABC in Abia did not make him any better than others; adding that he was simply voted for because people wanted to continue working with him.
He urged his supporters to emulate the Abia constituency which resolved its internal differences and agreed to rally behind the chosen party candidate.
“Have you heard how many times I have repeatedly talked about the infighting within constituencies? Today I have decided to concentrate on this matter because our main problem is jealousy and gossip. This is heartbreaking.
“Winning more than 60 constituencies is within our reach. This is Kobo-tata’s year. I remember an old man ntate Jone Letele saying that people should patiently wait for their turn for God to visit them. We waited patiently and He has visited us.”
Turning to other issues, Dr Thabane said an ABC government would work hard to ensure Basotho would not be forced to flee the country in fear of persecution by the army.
Dr Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho RCL leader Keketso Rantšo only returned to Lesotho early this year after two years in exile in South Africa where they sought refuge in May 2015 saying they feared for their lives.
The leaders said they had been alerted of a plot to kill them by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). However, the LDF has consistently denied the allegations.
And on Sunday, Dr Thabane said it was wrong for soldiers to behave as though they were an authority unto themselves, adding that he respected the security agencies.
“During the BNP-led government under ntate Jonathan Leabua’s regime (which was toppled in 1986), I was one of the senior principal secretaries and contributed immensely to the establishment of Police Mobile Unit (PMU).
“PMU was established within the constraints of the law but its purpose was not for individuals to use the army, police and National Security Services (NSS) for selfish reasons,” he said.
He said while he appreciated that individuals can be “troublesome”, it was however frightening to realise that heads of security sectors listen to “this one person” especially on the most critical matters concerning the administration of the country.
Dr Thabane went on to condemn government’s decision to close down People’s Choice (PC) FM last Friday after government’s decision to repossess the equipment it had lent the station.
The station subsequently acquired its own equipment on the same day but it was only allowed back on air on Monday after negotiations between management and officials from Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.
Dr Thabane also reiterated his call for ABC supporters to remain vigilant to thwart any attempts to rig the voting process on the day of elections.
“Make sure you take lunchboxes and never leave the voting stations until the voting is done. You may relieve each other because there are other votes which are allegedly transported by army helicopters and that is where rigging happens.”
“They have been lying to us for a long time and we need to use our own intelligence to fight for a good cause,” he added.