Major parties hit the campaign trail

IRENE SEME

MASERU – Officials belonging to various political parties have started their campaign across the country preparing for the proposed September general elections. The polls are pencilled for September 2022 to elect members to the 120-seat National Assembly, which is the lower house of the country’s parliament that also comprises a Senate. The Selibe Mochoborone-led Movement for Economic Freedom (MEC) is one political outfit that has begun compiling views and opinion to inform its manifesto going into the forthcoming poll – soliciting input from voters at the grassroots as to what to include in the manifesto which is likely to be launched in March.

According to the party’s spokesperson, Liteboho Kompi, this is common practice in the MEC. Their policy direction is informed by views sourced from party structures in various constituencies for inclusion in the manifesto. Kompi said that during this exercise, each constituency is represented by a delegation of 45 party members consisting of 15 youth leaguers, 15 women’s league members and 15 from the party’s constituency committee.

Speaking to Public Eye, Kompi said “the national executive committee has already structured the manifesto and ours is to go out to constituencies to get input from MEC members.” “Although as the national executive committee we reach out to our members through their constituency committees, doors are still open to members of the party to partake in this exercise and contribute their opinions,” she further explained.

Having begun this outreach last weekend, Kompi said the movement is yet to see the reality of the party’s existence in all constituencies and to encourage members to be active. She said at the end of this exercise, the party will launch the manifesto to the public and run with it to throughout its campaign to the national general elections. “MEC is only five years in existence, but we see amazing growth. This is a sign that the nation has always had hunger for a movement of the MEC’s calibre. Remember that we secured six parliamentary seats in the 2017 general election yet we were only three months old,” Kompi boldly said.

She added “this election will be unique, competitive and fairer because our former Prime Ministers Pakalitha Mosisili and Motsoahae Thabane, who people had a personal alignment to, will not be contesting. So, it is up to the current leaders to roll up their sleeves and show their political mantle.” However, the MEC is not the only party on the trail preparing its elections manifesto ahead of the forthcoming elections.

The Democratic Congress (DC) national youth committee president, Moeketsi Shale, also told Public Eye that the party will be launching its general elections manifesto on February 27. Shale explained that the former ruling party’s manifesto is similarly drawn from views and opinions of members of the party.

“We are a democratic party, we believe in the power of the people thus we engage with them from the grassroots – we use a bottom-up approach when gathering views for the manifesto,” said Shale. Shale added that the party’s manifesto responds to different needs of communities, in that way when building the manifesto, the party liaises with sectors such as businesses, people living with disability as well as vulnerable sectors of society.

The MEC was founded in 2016 as a splinter from then ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) by Mochoboroane who remains the leader to date, while the DC, also an upshot of the LCD, was formed in 2012 by its former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. The DC is currently under the leadership of Mathibeli Mokhothu, who is also the deputy prime minister.

In the June 2017 elections the MEC received 5 percent of the vote, winning six seats, including a constituency seat by the leader Mochoboroane. It landed the position of being the 4th biggest party in Lesotho after the All Basotho Convention, DC (with the LCD) and Alliance of Democrats; the DC bagged 30 parliamentary seats, 25.82 percent of the total vote and the second biggest party in the country.

The 120 members of the country’s National Assembly, from which parties seek a majority, are elected using the Mixed-member Proportional Representation system; eighty members are elected from single-member constituencies by First-Past-The-Post voting system, with the remaining 40 distributed in a proportional representation system according to their general votes countrywide. They are allocated in order to reflect the national vote share.

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