POLITICS:Lesotho politics faces bleak future

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By Anthony Schreiner


Maseru – THOMAS Thabane’s second coalition government, hangs by thread in what
politicians have said portends a bleak future for the country’s politics.
The second coalition government is barely in its second year.
Haunted by in house party factions coupled with opposition’s outcry over lack of
development and poor leadership, Lesotho’s third coalition government is almost on its knees.
A faction of Thabane’s party, All Basotho Convention (ABC), which is in support of newly
elected Deputy Leader Professor Nqosa Mahao, has filed a court case accusing the prime
minister of contempt of court after he dismissed five members of his party’s newly elected
National Executive Committee (NEC).
The appeal court declared them legitimate.
This faction led by Thabane’s deputy Professor Mahao wants Thabane jailed for contempt of
court.
Thabane held a press conference outside the party’’ premises on June 17 to announce the
dismissal of five members of the newly elected NEC members – Deputy leader Prof Nqosa
Mahao, Chairman Samuel Rapapa, Secretary General (and son in law) Lebohang Hlaele,
Spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa, and his deputy spokesperson Matebatso Doti.
This is a result of a gruesome court battles over the past months since Prof Mahao was voted
the new deputy leader at an elective conference in February.
His election was met with resistance and dispute by the former NEC led by former Secretary
General Samonyane Ntsekele.   
Ntsekele’s faction, known as team state house, devised tactics to cling to power arguing that
the newly elected Prof Mahao was too new in the party to contest for any position in the
national committee.
Resistance to make way for Prof Mahao’s in coming NEC led to numerous court battles
starting with one filed in the High Court by ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana,
Keketso Sello and legislator Mohapi Mohapinyane  alleging that the former’s victory was due
to “massive vote rigging”.
Acting Chief Justice Maseforo Mahase had to grant an interim order that kept Ntsekele’s
committee in office.
However, the Court of Appeal then ruled that the case should be returned to the High Court
but before a different judge.
That effectively recused Justice Mahase who in reaction appointed three High Court judges to
hear the matter.
Justices Thamsanqa Nomncongo, Sakoane Sakoane and Moroke Mokhesi ruled that the
applicants failed to convince the court that the elections were fraudulent.
As a result this judgement substantiated that Prof Mahao’s NEC is the rightful executive
committee of ABC and should occupy office.
Due to such contestation, Thabane, who is leader of the party dismissed the five resulting in
the court charging him for contempt.
But the charges were later withdrawn.
Fights also broke out at the party’s office and the new NEC is said to have been threatened by
men in balaclavas, armed with guns who broke the locks on their office doors.
Meanwhile, Ntsekele speaking to a local radio after the judgement claimed he was not
reluctant to relinquishing power to Prof Mahao but wanted to abide by what the courts said.
He stated that he would not interfere in any way or make things difficult for the new NEC to
carry out their mandate.

Hloaele, the new secretary general of the party, argued that by dismissing them from the
party yet the Appeal’s Court declared them the rightful committee was a clear indication of
contempt.
While Thabane struggles to put out fires over the leadership wrangle, his own party members
together with the opposition want him out of government.
Merely two weeks ago, a motion of no confidence was tabled in parliament by Motebang
Koma of Koro Koro constituency, a legislator from Thabane’s party.
The motion was immediately seconded by opposition party Democratic of Congress Deputy
Leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, who suggested Member of Parliament from Mosalenane
constituency, Sam Rapapa to take over as interim Prime Minister.
However, according to those in support of the incumbent prime minister, the motion to ouster
Thabane was unsuccessful as standing orders say that one needs to be part of opposition or to
cross to the opposition before tabling the motion whilst still a member of the ruling party.
However several parliamentarians especially those from opposition disputed this, calling it a
tactic by Thabane to buy time and cling for a little longer in power.
Parliament was adjourned indefinitely to give the government time to consult the Attorney
General’s legal opinion but the move angered opposition parties and some within Thabane’s
party.
Mathibeli Mokhothu, leader of the opposition in Parliament made it clear that no standing
order, constitution, regulation or law required one to cross the floor or be a member of
opposition in order to table a motion of no confidence.
“Those within the party have every right to table the motion when they are no longer happy
with the prime minister and his government. It is their duty as parliamentarians to oversee
government and call it to account or oust it when not satisfied with how it does things,” he
said.
He added that parliament would eventually open and Thabane’s government could be voted
out since the ruling party had inadequate numbers to be in power.
Minister of Defence Tefo Mapesela told a local paper: “We have lost the numbers in
parliament and some of our people have even gone to an extent of voting with the opposition.
This shows that the government is rickety.”
Selibe Mochoboroane, Leader of Movement of Economic Change (MEC) also stated that the
government was attempting to buy time with its opposing arguments.
“There is nothing that states one needs to be a member of opposition to table a motion of no
confidence,” he told a local paper.
“There is no clause stipulating all that. Standing Orders and the Constitution do not say a
person should be on the opposition side, for him (or her) to file a motion of no confidence
against the government.”
In his interview with the SABC, the suggested interim Prime Minister, Rapapa concurred the
same.
The desire to oust Thabane is seen as a cocktail of his failure to control his ABC party and
grow the economy, bring stability, peace, alleviate poverty and generally develop Lesotho.
Mokhothu emphasised that Thabane’s second coalition failed Basotho dismally, painting a
clear picture that old men should vacate office and make way for youngsters to take the
country forward.
He said the government was focused more on expanding cabinet and enriching the few
individuals closest to the prime minister instead of tackling real issues burdening the nation.
“Nothing in this country is going well because we have people forming coalition government
with the intention of enriching themselves,” Mokhothu said.
“Unemployment rates are skyrocketing, public funds are mismanaged, security forces are still
unstable and police brutality is rampant.”

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader and former deputy prime
minister, Mothejoa Metsing, speaking at a rally in Taung, bemoaned the misfortunes facing
Basotho.
He cited failure to administer old age pensions, unemployment rates, unfavourable new wool
and mohair regulations that have driven Basotho farmers deep into poverty plus the
prevalence of HIV among the key challenges.
“Due to political instability over the years, Lesotho has been unable to develop economically
hence countries that were less rich than us have overtaken us, leaving us in the shackles of
poverty. Now Lesotho is known as one of the least developed country around the world,”
lamented Metsing.
He also said the failure to observe the rule of law and capacitate the judiciary was a clear
indication that Lesotho is not developing.
According to Metsing the ‘new’ trend of going to elections every two years spending almost
$30 million is too costly for the ailing economy.
He proposed a government of national unity be formed in parliament to cut costs associated
with elections.
Meanwhile, Prof Mahao has made it clear that it is high time Lesotho is delivered from its
sorry economic state and poor service delivery, where it goes back to being a country that
respects the rule of law.