Lesotho election a two-horse race

2017-06-04 06:09
Residents of Abia village Makhoakhoeng outside Maseru are queing to cast their votes in the national elections. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

Residents of Abia village Makhoakhoeng outside Maseru are queing to cast their votes in the national elections. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Basotho voters braved the chilly weather and headed to the polls to elect a new government in a contest described as a two-horse race between old rivals Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Thomas Thabane in the third general election in the country since 2012.

Former prime minister Thabane told journalists after voting yesterday that whoever rejects the national elections’ outcomes will be going against the objectives of the Southern African Development Community.

The prospect of his return to the position of prime minister after this weekend’s elections has sparked fears in diplomatic circles that his victory could amount to handing over power to the controversial Gupta family, who allegedly funded his election campaign.

Thabane insisted that he would accept any outcome because the Independent Electoral Commission had played its role and set up credible “processes”.

It was therefore up to political party leaders to behave.

“Good behaviour is not negotiable,” he said.

“My expectations will be that the elections will be free, fair and peaceful and that the best man [or] woman will win ...

"I truly believe in the democratic norm, [which means that] if I lose I will hand over to whoever has debated me. If I win I expect him to do the same.”

City Press sources described Thabane’s campaign as the most well-funded among the contenders with a fleet of branded vehicles used to ferry the leader and his campaign team.

It managed to buy advertising space on big billboards along Maseru’s main Kingsway Road, and outshone opponents with branded events, T-shirt giveaways and campaign material including leaflets and manifestos.

"Beacon of hope"

The only other party that came close to matching Thabane is the newly formed Movement for Economic Change, led by the youngest of the four players in the race, Selibe Mochoboroane (39).

“What a lot of Basotho don’t know is that in celebrating a win for Thabane, who has unleashed a lot of resources for the campaign, they will ultimately be celebrating a win for the Guptas.

"They are funding him with his election campaign,” said a senior diplomat.

Thabane had gazetted a notice that the Guptas were entitled to diplomatic passports as his special advisers, which came after he amended legislation in 2014, apparently to accommodate his friends.

However, the passports were revoked and confiscated by the foreign affairs ministry right after Thabane lost the 2015 elections.

It’s understood that part of the plan for the coalition government under Mosisili was to end the Guptas’ hold on Lesotho.

Experts have predicted that another fractious coalition government unlikely to tackle the mountain kingdom’s dire levels of HIV/Aids and unemployment would result from Saturday’s snap election.

“A coalition is the most likely outcome, but it is unlikely to be a successful one,” Charles Fogelman, a specialist on Lesotho politics at the University of Illinois, told AFP.

“Both of the previous coalitions have collapsed under the weight of succession and power battles, and it is hard to imagine future coalitions not doing the same,” he added.

Thabane told the media that he was open to a coalition, saying it was the way to go “because anyone outside will burn that house down”.

He vowed that he wanted to make Lesotho “a beacon of hope” before he retires.

Samonyane Ntsekele, Thabane’s spokesperson, did not respond to questions sent on Friday about campaign funding.

Read more on:    sadc  |  iec

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.