Lesotho: Ramaphosa Can't Save Thabane - Mochoboroane

MOVEMENT for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane says moves to oust Prime Minister Thomas Thabane through a no confidence vote in parliament will go ahead. They had not been abandoned by the recent visit of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mr Ramaphosa, who is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator to Lesotho, jetted into the country last week and mediated in a deal between the government and the opposition to restart the stalled implementation of the multi-sector reforms recommended by SADC in 2016.

The government and the opposition then agreed, among other things, to re-open parliament "not later than 5 August 2019 for the purpose of enacting the law that establishes the National Reforms Authority". Parliament was closed indefinitely last month at a time when the Professor Nqosa Mahao led faction of Dr Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) had teamed up with the opposition to file a no confidence motion against the premier. Although no reason was given for the indefinite closure, it was widely believed that this was done to save Dr Thabane and give him the opportunity to resolve the power struggle in his fractious party.

Addressing a well-attended weekend rally in Khafung, Berea, Mr Mochoboroane said Mr Ramaphosa's recent visit and the renewed emphasis on the reforms would not alter their plans to table the no confidence motion and vote against the government when parliament reconvened.

The youthful opposition leader said there had been a lot of confusion regarding the outcome of Mr Ramaphosa's visit, with some people saying it had saved Dr Thabane from the no confidence vote.

The speculation could have been fuelled by Dr Thabane's Thursday speech at the conclusion of Mr Ramaphosa's visit where he said the latter's visit had "helped solve Lesotho's problems".

"The situation today has gone way beyond our wildest expectations to sort out problems that were beginning to look intractable. Those problems have been solved through diplomacy and the ability of the honourable president of South Africa and have become yesterday's tale," Dr Thabane said without elaborating.

But on Sunday, Mr Mochoboroane said it was "completely false and misleading" to think that Mr Ramaphosa had brokered a deal to save Dr Thabane as his visit was solely to do with the reforms process and nothing else.

"There is an issue that has caused some confusion where some people are saying that Mr Ramaphosa ordered legislators to abandon the no confidence motion in parliament in order to protect Dr Thabane's administration.

"There is absolutely no such a thing. We only signed an agreement that provides for the establishment of a body (the National reforms Authority) that will oversee the implementation of the reforms. That body will ensure that in the event of the collapse of this government, the reforms process will not be affected but will continue.

"Parliament would have been reconvened in September but the agreement forces him (Dr Thabane) to re-open it earlier in August. And as soon as we are done passing the reforms law, how we conduct our business afterwards is no longer the concern of SADC and we shall collide in parliament," Mr Mochoboroane said.

Mr Mochoboroane said it was now time all political parties mobilised in parliament to push out the premier whom he said had clearly lost control of government.

"It is not possible to build the economy in an unstable political environment and that is why we support the reforms and want to see their successful implementation.

"Dr Thabane has lost control of government and as legislators, we have a responsibility to take charge and address the situation before it is too late."

He said if no action is taken against Dr Thabane, Lesotho will become a failed state. He said the premier had to go because "he was the author of the country's socio-economic woes" through policies that had embittered wool and mohair farmers, civil servants and the whole Basotho nation. He said even cancer patients had failed to travel to India for treatment due to shortage of funds.

He also reiterated his party's opposition to Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader Mothejoa Metsing's call for the creation of a government of national unity. He said the idea was ill-conceived because it would create a government without an opposition- something he said was wrong in a democratic dispensation.

"A government should not be without opposition. An opposition is needed to hold the government accountable and guard against corruption and misuse of public finances.

"In the event that a GNU materialises, the MEC will not join it and we will become the only opposition party in parliament," Mr Mochoboroane said.

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