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We never held any coalition talks with the RFP: Mahao

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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…BAP leader concedes defeat but reiterates concerns about voters’ roll

’Marafaele Mohloboli

BASOTHO Action Party (BAP) leader, Nqosa Mahao, says his party never held any talks about forming a governing coalition with the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party.

Professor Mahao said although they approached the RFP about the prospect of forging a coalition, the Sam Matekane-led party never heeded their request.

Therefore, widespread allegations that the BAP was snubbed by the RFP after making outrageous demands including that he be made deputy prime minister were completely baseless, Prof Mahao said.

Mr Matekane this week announced that he had forged a coalition with the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Selibe Mochoboroane-led Movement for Economic Change (MEC).

A day before the announcement of the new coalition, the Lesotho Times had been informed that Mr Matekane’s RFP had held different meetings with various political parties in search of allies to enable him to form government. These included the Teboho Mojapela-led Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) which obtained two seats, one of which was a proportional representation (PR) seat. The RFP is also said to have held negotiations with the BAP.

The RFP however, failed to agree on key issues with these parties, including the allocation of government posts, the sources said.

Speaking at the press conference, Prof Mahao denied ever talking to the RFP about a coalition.

He said after realising that the RFP’s 56 seats would not be enough for it to govern alone,  his party which obtained six proportional representation (PR) seats, asked the former for talks about forging a coalition. However, they never got a response from the RFP, Prof Mahao said.

“On Monday, the national executive committee (NEC) met and decided to ask for talks with the RFP and that task was given to deputy leader, Motlatsi Maqelepo,” Prof Mahao said.

“Mr Maqelepo then called me between 6 and 7pm, saying that he had met with RFP chairperson (Teboho Kobeli) and he (Maqelepo) had proposed talks. Mr Kobeli had then said he would present the matter to the RFP’s NEC. However, we didn’t get any invitation to talk.

“It is therefore untrue that the RFP invited us for talks. The allegations that we met and made some ridiculous demands are baseless. It is not true that the BAP demanded to be given the deputy prime minister’s post and five other cabinet posts. These are ridiculous claims,” said Prof Mahao.

He also conceded defeat in the 7 October elections.

None of the BAP’s candidates won in any of the 80 constituencies. Prof Mahao was beaten in his own Koro-Koro backyard by the RFP’s Mahatunyana Abinyane who polled 3214 votes to the former National University of Lesotho vice chancellor’s 1390 votes. The BAP however, obtained six PR seats.

Addressing the press conference, Prof Mahao lauded his party for obtaining six PR seats in its first ever election. He formed the BAP in April 2021 after dumping the All Basotho Convention (ABC) where he had been deputy leader from February 2019. He ditched the ABC after falling out with then party leader, Thomas Thabane, who he accused of plotting with outgoing Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, to oust him from the party. The three subsequently denied Prof Mahao’s allegations.

Ten other ABC MPs left the ABC with Prof Mahao, a fact he referenced at the press briefing.

“You’ll recall that when we left the ABC, we had 10 MPs,” Prof Mahao said.

“This was our first time contesting elections as a party and we now have six people elected under the BAP banner. We’d like to laud the BAP members and remind everyone that as a fairly new party, we still did well compared to other parties.”

He said the “shambolic” voters’ roll had affected voters’ rights. Although he did not mention specific problems with the roll, the BAP and other parties had previously complained about the duplication of voters’ names in various constituencies as well as the presence of dead people’s names on the roll among other things. These concerns were subsequently captured in the preliminary reports of various observer missions who observed the polls.

“The elections had a number of challenges compared to previous polls. These challenges affected the electorate’s rights in different ways. Be that as it may, the BAP accepts Basotho’s decision to vote the way they did. The results reflect the true picture of what Basotho want and therefore we have to accept and respect the people’s wishes. It is clear that Basotho want changes now. They want changes in government, changes in their livelihoods and they want a fresh start. We would therefore like to laud the RFP for the crown it has been given by Basotho. A huge responsibility has been conferred on them by Basotho who want an immediate end to their suffering.

“We put them (RFP) before God and pray that through them, Lesotho has indeed turned a new page and they will achieve stability and success for this country. As the BAP, we will be His Majesty’s loyal and constructive opposition in parliament. We’ll support the government where it’s right and we won’t hesitate to correct them whenever they are in the wrong,” Prof Mahao said.