Thabane’s patience wearing thin

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MASERU –– All Basotho Convention (ABC) party leader, Tom Thabane, says he is disappointed with the way the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has handled the electoral dispute between the government and the opposition.

Thabane told party supporters at a rally in Naleli on Sunday that he was frustrated that SADC had not said a word since their emissary Ketumile Masire abandoned his mission to resolve the dispute over proportional representation seats.

Masire threw in the towel last month accusing the government of Lesotho of being unwilling to resolve the dispute.

“SADC has remained silent about Lesotho’s proportional representation seats talks report,” Thabane said.

“All I have realised is that SADC is only concerned about the Madagascar and Zimbabwean political unrests.”

Thabane said he was now planning to “tell all SADC leaders one-by-one not to interfere with Lesotho’s internal affairs once Basotho opt to solve the current political impasse through their own means”.

“I will start with my friend just across the border,” he said pointing at the other side of Mohokare River which divides Lesotho and South Africa on the western side.

“I will confront my friend Msholozi first,” he said in reference to South African leader Jacob Zuma.

The Sunday rally which was attended by a few hundreds of people seemed to have been part of Thabane’s charm offensive after the indefinite stay-away he called last week flopped. 

Thabane arrived at the rally in a convoy of five cars.

As he alighted from a metallic green 4×4 Land Rover there was ululation among the party faithful who were mostly clad in yellow T-shirts and caps.

And when he started walking towards the tent the crowd broke into song.

Flanked by four bodyguards dressed in sharp suits and dark sunglasses, Thabane seemed like a man who had acquired a security team for the job that he wants (Prime Minister) not the one he has (opposition party leader).

Three of the bodyguards quickly stood at strategic positions while one of them proceeded to the tent to occupy a chair near the one reserved for Thabane.

The whole spectacle looked quite choreographed.

An army of singing women dressed in party colours escorted him to the tent.

The crowd broke into song.

They sang: “Bua Thabane, bua le Basotho” (Thabane talk to Basotho). Thabane’s scathing remarks came after the MP for Berea Tatia Moseme had told the rally that it was wrong that after every election Basotho have to invite SADC to intervene in their dispute.

“Why can we not solve our own problems instead of calling foreigners to make us talk to each other?” Moseme said.

The rally took place three days ahead of interparty talks to be held under the chairmanship of a retired Anglican Church of Lesotho Bishop, Phillip Mokuku.

Mokuku was given the mandate by the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) to facilitate talks between government and the opposition.

Thabane said he was amazed that Mokuku was mediating on a matter that Masire had already failed to resolve.

He said he doubted that government would co-operate during the talks.

Moseme said the ABC will not be moved to change its position during the talks.

He added that ABC would insist on setting a time-frame for the talks because they feared the issue might prolong until the next general election in 2012.

At the rally Thabane was singing a different tune about the stay-away. “Among all political actions I called, this was a great success,” Thabane said in apparent contradiction to his statement last week when he said the stay-away had failed because “the people failed us”.

“It succeeded because the government felt a need to stop all services in the districts to concentrate on suppressing it.”

“Government vehicles were brought to Maseru and many civil servants left their posts in the districts and came to the city to make sure that the stay-away would be a failure,” Thabane said.

Thabane also said the money spent in the government’s effort to minimise the effects of the stay-away is a clear sign that he had succeeded.

However, he hastened to say the stay-away could have been better if there was unity among party supporters.

His words were echoed by the Berea constituency youth chairman, Monaheng Khatala, who exhorted ABC youths to be brave in the face of the government’s suppression of the stay-away.

“Our core problem is lack of solidarity in the struggle,” Khatala said.

“I implore you ABC youth to be active and show the government that we support a stay-away when it is called.”

“This is not time to show cowardice.”

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