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We’re ready to govern



MASERU – THE Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, says he will push for the government to acquire a 51 percent stake in all companies where it has shares if his party wins election next Friday.

Mochoboroane says that should not rattle investors who currently own as much as 70 percent in diamond mines with the government owning the remaining 30 percent.

He says such a structure will ensure Basotho benefit fully from their natural resources.

“How do you have a say as government over your natural resources with a shareholding of 30 percent? We just do not have control,” he says.

“When I get into power we will ensure that the government increases shareholding to 51 percent so that we are in control. We still need foreign investors but we need to be in control.”

It is strategy that has been tried elsewhere in Africa with devastating consequences as investors, unnerved by the radical rhetoric, quickly fled.

But Mochoboroane is adamant that such a radical economic policy will not trigger investor flight.

“It will not threaten investors. What we will have to do is to buy the shares to have one more share. They’ll still do the work but we have to be in control,” he says.

“A diamond is a non-renewable resource. Once extracted it is gone and will not be replaced.”

An MEC government, Mochoboroane says, will create a sovereign development fund to ensure that Basotho benefit fully from their natural resources.

“When we sell diamonds, a certain percentage has to go to the investment so that the next generation can benefit from the extraction of our diamonds.”

Funds generated from the sale of the diamonds will then be channeled towards infrastructure development “to ensure we leave a legacy for the next generation”.

“We have to have some means of ensuring that the generations to come also benefit from the same resources that we kept. They should not just see the dongas that came as a result of extracting diamonds.”

Mochoboroane is a strong admirer of the Botswana model; how the government has used its vast mineral wealth to educate and place thousands of Batswana into top universities around the world.

“Here in Lesotho we cannot take our students to study at Oxford University because we can’t afford that. But Batswana, with their investments in mining, are able to do that,” he says.

“We must therefore create a sovereign wealth fund so that the future generations can benefit from our resources. Such a fund will save us from borrowing from the IMF and World Bank. We will borrow from our resource.”

Mochoboroane also wants a shake-up of the government’s pension fund which he says is currently working for the benefit of South Africa.

“Look at how fast Sandton is growing. They get these resources from Lesotho and we are not able to tap into our own resource,” he says.

Sandton is the richest square mile in Africa with big businesses headquartered there.

For Mochoboroane the key to fixing what’s ailing Lesotho lies in adopting radical economic transformation programmes for the country.

He thinks he is, judged on past performance alone, the best candidate for the country’s biggest job, come October 7.

He says Basotho should vote for his MEC next Friday “because it preaches the gospel of service delivery”.

“It doesn’t just preach but it also delivers (on its campaign promises),” he says.

Mochoboroane is quick to point to what he says is a “solid track-record” of service delivery first when he was Deputy Minister of Local Government.

“This is the kind of politics I am sharing with the people. They know that was the basis of the formation of the MEC, it is nothing but service delivery,” he says.

“Wherever we are, whether we are in opposition, or in government, we deliver. I served as chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee.

There was never a time when the PAC performed the way it did. Look at the number of motions filed by the deputy leader of the MEC in parliament.”

He says all this is because of the ethos of the MEC – to deliver on their mandate to the people of Lesotho.

He says the MEC should be judged at the ballot box “on the basis of our past performance”.

If the MEC wins the elections next week, Mochoboroane says he wants Lesotho to go back to the ideals of the National Strategic Development Plan that was penned under former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Under the Maputo Declaration, Mochoboroane says, Lesotho pledged to channel ten percent of its national budget to agriculture.

That grand plan has never been implemented, leaving Lesotho to survive on handouts from international relief agencies.

Instead, what we have seen from successive governments is a starving of the agriculture sector leaving the country food-insecure.

“As we speak, there has never been a time when we go beyond 2.5 percent. We’ve been between two percent and 2.7 percent (being allocated to agriculture). We have not even got to five percent of our total budget yet agriculture is the backbone for the growth of the economy,” he says.

“There is just no way that we as a country can depend on another (to feed ourselves),” he says.

“If you are not able to produce your own products there is no way that you will be able to stimulate the growth of the economy.”

“The declaration Mosisili signed in 2009 in Maputo must be implemented.”

If the MEC wins the polls, Mochoboroane says apart from revamping agriculture, they will also channel their energies on fighting corruption which has resulted in massive leakages in tax mobilisation.

“When Basotho have elected me into power, I will work to (uproot) corruption to ensure that we collect as much revenue as possible.”

To boost Lesotho’s revenue, Mochoboroane says he wants the 1986 Water Treaty signed with South Africa reviewed significantly because the current deal is heavily skewed in Pretoria’s favour.

“That treaty was signed by the apartheid regime and the military regime which was not elected by the people. We are going to engage South Africa to review the treaty,” he says.

“The royalties we get from selling water are far low as compared to the benefits South Africa gets from our water. We will have to sit down with South Africa and convince them that we need to review that treaty.”

Judging by the attendance at his rallies and the aggressive recruitment of members behind the scenes, Mochoboroane says he expects his MEC to put up a stellar show at the polls this time around.

“You will be shocked when the results are announced,” he says.

Mochoboroane was in a bullish mood when thepost spoke to him at his party’s offices this week.

“I’m certain that we are going to do very well looking at how I performed in the previous elections and how we are doing now in terms of the campaign. I’m hopeful that we are going to do well.”

He says they have been on the ground campaigning since the last election in 2017, setting up structures for the MEC.

The results, he says, have been outstanding.

“But looking at the membership and the successes of our rallies, I am certain that at least I will be able to compete in 20 constituencies and participate in the rest of the constituencies.”

Mochoboroane won the Thabana-Morena constituency in the 2017 snap election, the only constituency his MEC won outright.

He hopes to retain that constituency whilst adding a few more.

“I am not quite sure how many seats I am going to win but I will be in a position to compete and when you compete there can only be two outcomes: either you win or you lose. But even if you lose, you lose with very good numbers.”

He says he has no qualms with the manner in which the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has run the election so far.

He however would have wanted voter education and advertising to have been done a little earlier to ensure Basotho access relevant voter education.

Mochoboroane is realistic enough to keep his ambitions in check. He says he acknowledges that no single political party is going to romp to victory and win the necessary 61 seats to form government on its own.

“We are in the era of coalition governments,” he says. “There is no way we can run away from coalition governments. We will have to live with coalition governments for the next 20 years or so.”

He says despite that reality, he still believes the MEC can lead the next coalition government. But even after forming a coalition government, political parties should not use that as an excuse to fail to deliver on their electoral promises.

“Nobody should give an excuse that they failed to deliver because they were in a coalition government. Coalition governments do not stop anyone from delivering quality services,” he says.

“With or without a coalition government we have to deliver.”

He says Basotho must vote for the MEC, a “party that believes in service delivery that has a vision of moving Lesotho from where it is now to a Lesotho that will be prosperous in the next five years”.

The MEC is a fiercely pro-Basotho political formation whose election manifesto promises “to kill corruption” whilst promising to “create jobs” for Basotho.

With an image of a hand watch, the MEC says “2022 should be the dawn of a new Lesotho that turns the tide on the downward trend of the past 10 years”.

“This is a moment of renewal. It is an opportunity to build democratic institutions and return our country to a path of transformation, growth and development,” the party says in its manifesto.

It says an MEC government will be anchored on five thematic areas:
• Fiercely fighting corruption and enforcement of the law
• Promoting private sector development
• Infrastructure development, economic recovery and growth
• Strengthening patriotism and social cohesion
• Improving social security services

Mochoboroane says while there was nothing fundamentally with Zhen Yu Shao, a Mosotho of Chinese descent, joining a political party of his choice, he just cannot understand why the man should be allowed to run for elections in Lesotho.

“That is an insult to Basotho,” he says bluntly.

Shao initially wanted to stand for elections under the MEC banner but was given short thrift by the party that felt he was a liability and would damage the reputation of a party that projects itself as fiercely pro-Basotho.

When the MEC rejected him, Shao packed his bags and formed his Basotho Pele party under which he is running for elections in the Ha-Tsolo constituency.

This week, a group of Basotho launched a legal challenge against Shao’s candidacy.

Mochoboroane says it would be a travesty of justice to Basotho to allow Shao to run in the elections.

“We are Africans living in Africa. We are Basotho living in Lesotho. Now can you think of a parliament run by a Chinese?”

“We have a problem of an economy that is not too strong, that depends on other countries such as China. Now think of a situation where we are now led by a Chinese national. I take that as an insult to Basotho.”

“Even the Basotho who are voting for the Chinese national, does that mean that even amongst themselves no one can stand for elections? Does that mean they have lost hope even in themselves? I take it as an insult to Basotho.”

He says when he first picked information that Shao had joined his party, he immediately dispatched a delegation led by the party’s secretary general “to find out what was happening”.

“We agreed that if it’s true (that Shao was a member) it had come to an end immediately. We cannot afford as a party to have a Chinese national who will stand the elections under the flag of the party.”

Abel Chapatarongo & Khotsofalang Koloi

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MP defies party, backs opposition



MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.

His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.

“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.

This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.

“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”

Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.

“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.

The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.

“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).

“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Inside plot to oust Matekane



THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.

The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.

But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.

Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.

Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.

“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.

Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.

He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.

They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.

“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.

Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.

“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.

Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition



THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.

Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.

He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.

“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.

He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.

“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”

Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.

“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.

Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.

“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”

“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”

The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.

In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.

“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.

Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.

“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”

The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane

  •  Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
  • Corruption
  • Nepotism
  • Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
  • Job losses.
  • Lack of job creation.
  • Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
  • Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
  • Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
  • Arrest of MPs by the police.
  • Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.

Staff Reporter

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