Who is funding who?

Who is funding who?

Thesele Maseribane, the Basotho National Party (BNP), has had a very uncomfortable two weeks following intense media scrutiny over his “shadowy” links with a UK-based businessman.
At the centre of the furore are allegations that Maseribane, who also serves as Communications Minister, received a hefty donation from Barran Banks in return for a mining licence in Lesotho.
Banks is said to have transferred some cash into Maseribane’s personal account.

Maseribane has vociferously denied that the cash was a bribe so that he could smoothen the way for Banks to get a prospecting licence in Lesotho.
Instead he says the “transaction” was because they were “friends”.
He says he used part of the money to support three women’s groups and fund the party’s campaign programmes in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
But Maseribane is not alone.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has also admitted that he too received some cash from Banks while he was in exile in South Africa.
Try as he may, it is clear that Maseribane is battling a serious public relations nightmare over the donation.
It will take a monumental effort on his part to “wash” himself clean in the court of public opinion.

The damage to his name and that of his party has been severe. The insinuation has been that Maseribane personally benefited from the transaction, a charge he has vociferously denied.
However, we would like to argue that this hullabaloo could have been easily avoided if we had promoted politics guided by transparency.
Of course it would be easy to bash Maseribane and impute some wrongdoing on the part of the BNP leader.

That is so because of the absence of a regulatory framework on how political parties should handle foreign funding.
That is why it is critical for Lesotho to come up with a strong regulatory framework to guide parties on the issue of foreign funding. That is critical to ensure no single political party is controlled by foreign interests.

This will also be critical in ensuring that we safeguard our sovereignty as a nation and that our political parties, that always face serious cash-flow issues, will not sell their birthright for a fleeting “plate of soup”.

The absence of regulations that control party funding will always give rise to opaque deals. Shadowy characters will always come in looking for some favours.
It is known that some political parties have received some funding from foreign forces in the past. Political parties must declare such donations to ensure transparency. That is key to ensure the parties do not become beholden to their benefactors.

Lesotho needs a clear, unequivocal law that will regulate political party funding.
We need to know who is funding who and in return for what.
That is critical in promoting transparency and good governance.

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