PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has sacked Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Motlohi Maliehe, the third such dismissal this year.
The outspoken Maliehe was relieved of his ministerial duties this week after several highly publicised clashes with the party leadership including Dr Thabane himself and his wife, Maesaiah Thabane.
Soon after being shown the exit door, Mr Maliehe poured his heart out to the Lesotho Times saying he is not a bitter man.
Instead the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) chairperson and Butha-Buthe legislator says he will now fully devote his energies to party business and representing the "interests of the Butha-Buthe people who have trusted me to be their voice since 2002".
Mr Maliehe's dismissal was confirmed by the Press Attaché in the Prime Minister's Office, Thabo Thakalekoala. Mr Thakalekoala said the premier had resolved to fire Mr Maliehe with effect from Tuesday.
"Pursuant to the provision of Section 87 (7) of the constitution of Lesotho, His Majesty King Letsie III has accepted the advice of the Right Honourable Prime Minister to release Honourable Motlohi Maliehe from the office of the minister in the government of Lesotho," Mr Thakalekoala said in a statement.
"In this connection, his (Mr Maliehe's) appointment as a minister ends on 14 August 2018.
"The Prime Minister has appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Honourable Temeki Tšolo to act as Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture with effect from 14 August 2018 until the appointment of a substantive holder," Mr Thakalekoala said.
Although the premier did not give reasons for his decision, Mr Maliehe himself acknowledged that his dismissal was not unexpected. His dismissal had been looming ever since May this year when he launched a blistering attack on Ms Thabane while addressing a rally in Hololo constituency in the Butha-Buthe district.
Mr Maliehe accused Ms Thabane of fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through "constant meddling" in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.
The ABC chairperson accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and "abetting corruption" by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.
His utterances provoked an immediate response from ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who was quoted in some sections of the media as having said that Mr Maliehe should pack his bags and leave his party and government positions.
Mr Maliehe still faces the prospect of being booted out of the ABC as he has a pending disciplinary case before the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) in connection with his attacks on Ms Thabane.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Maliehe confirmed receiving the letter of dismissal from his ministerial post on Tuesday afternoon.
"This is my last day in office and I am not aggrieved at all. I saw this one coming and to be fair, I have been expecting this to happen for a long time.
"I am going back to parliament to push for the interests of the Butha-Buthe people who have trusted me to be their voice since 2002.
"I am not going to leave the party. This is my party and I am going to use all the time I now have to ensure that this party grows and stays true to its founding principles. If I ever feel tired of politics, I will retire instead of leaving Kobo-tata (ABC) for another political party. I am a founding member of this party and I will continue to work hard to ensure that it grows in leaps," Mr Maliehe said.
He also said he was confident that he had enough support within the party to enable him to prevail at the impending disciplinary hearing that the ABC NEC has proposed.
Last month the ABC Secretary General, Samonyane Ntsekele, wrote to Mr Maliehe informing him that he would soon appear before a disciplinary committee over his attacks on Ms Thabane.
Mr Maliehe said he would prevail because it was only a few elements who had a gripe with him. And in an apparent potshot at Dr Thabane, he suggested that he had not lost anything with his dismissal as he had been voted to become a legislator and not a minister in the first place.
"My problems are with the few ABC executive members, not the ABC itself because as things stand I have massive following within this party. It should be understood that I was never voted to become a minister but voted to go to parliament to represent the people of Butha-Buthe; that I will continue doing religiously," he said.
Mr Maliehe, who also served as Forestry and Land Reclamation Minister, is the third ABC legislator to be fired from government since the advent of the four-party coalition in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 snap elections.
First to be fired in February 2018 was outspoken former Minister of Health Nyapane Kaya and his cabinet colleague, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, who was Public Works and Transport Minister.
The ABC is in a coalition with the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) after winning the June 3 2017 snap elections.