Thabane, Lesotho’s first Prime Minister to hand over power in parliament

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By Matiisetso Mosala and Tumisang Serame

Change of power between administrations has always been observed in Lesotho only after elections, however for the first time a sitting prime minister will resign and hand-over power to his successor in parliament.

This comes after much political skirmishes within Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s political party—All Basotho Convention (ABC) — that have since ended with election of his finance minister Dr Moeketsi Mojoro as his successor.

Majoro was elected by ABC legislators in defiance to the party’s national executive committee decision that Thabane’s successor be the party’s second ranking officer, Chairperson Tsoinyane Rapapa.

Rapapa has since acceded to the decision of the party’s members of parliament collective.

However, not only is Majoro going to be taking the reins of power from the elderly Thabane who had already indicated intention to retire, but he will be a prime minister of a fourth coalition government in Lesotho led by the ABC and Democratic Congress (DC).

The eight other parties supporting the pact are Movement of Economic Change (MEC), Basotho National Party (BNP), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), National Independence Party (NIP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL), Reformed Congress of Lesotho, and the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).

Thabane and his inner circle, consisting mainly of ministers in the collapsed coalition, that were at the centre of infighting within his party were on Monday arm-twisted to join the ten parties new coalition against their past resistance.

The ten-party coalition left AD leader Moleleki and his party the biggest losers as he was short of a month to qualify for lucrative former deputy prime minister’s benefits.

On Monday afternoon, Moleleki informed the nation his party would be interested to see the country adopt a government of national unity and not another coalition government as he consoled his party members at their Maseru East located office.

Moleleki’s nemesis DC leader Mathibeli Mokhothu will under the ten-party coalition be deputy prime minister.

The new twist to the country’s political culture of short-lived parliamentary lifespan follows the King’s royal assent to the ninth constitutional amendment that stripped off Thabane the unchecked powers to unilaterally dissolve parliament while also providing for a procedure for a sitting prime minister to retire.

On Monday, National Assembly Speaker Sephiri Motanyane announced the dissolution of the four-party’s coalition government and said parliament shall stand adjourned until May 22 to facilitate for transition to the ten-party coalition. The announcement came after Motanyane read various letters bringing to his attention the re-configuration of government.

Unconfirmed claims are that Majoro will be inaugurated as prime minister by the end of this week.

In an interview, outgoing Minister of Communications and BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane told the Kingdom Digital News after parliamentary proceedings that Speaker Motanyane ought to meet His Majesty King Letsie III to inform him about changes in parliament.

He said the King would be advised by Motanyane to convene a meeting of the Council of State to deliberate on the changes in parliament and forge structure on the way forward.

“My understanding is that once the Council of State has sat on the matter, the Prime Minister along with his new partners will form a new cabinet as the changes come to effect during a time when the country is dealing with the reforms process and the Coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

‘Maseribane said a 10 days transition period allows enough time so as to ensure that public service is not negatively affected by absence of a functional cabinet.

For its part, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) yesterday informed the nation his party would only join a government of national unity in stark maintenance of a position the party has held since the June 2017 polls.

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