Lesotho: Mokhothu Pushes for Thabane's Ouster

Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane of the Kingdom of Lesotho addresses the seventy-third session of the United Nations General Assembly.
30 October 2019

Opposition Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, says he has nothing personal against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his bid to topple him is borne out of the singular aim of rescuing the country from misgovernance.

Mr Mokhothu said the misgovernance was so bad that some "fed up" senior officials in Dr Thabane's own All Basotho Convention (ABC) had gone to the extent of filing a no confidence motion against him in parliament. Now that parliament had re-opened, the DC would support the motion to ensure Dr Thabane was toppled.

He said this while addressing a weekend DC rally in Lekokoaneng in Teyateyaneng.

Parliament re-opened last Friday after it had been indefinitely adjourned in June 2019 after Motebang Koma, the Koro-Koro constituency legislator from Dr Thabane's own ABC party, filed the no confidence motion.

Mr Koma, who is one of the ABC legislators backing the party's deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao in his power struggle with Dr Thabane, was seconded by the DC's deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, in the no confidence motion.

Mr Koma proposed that the ABC's Mosalemane constituency legislator, Samuel Rapapa, takes over as caretaker prime minister.

Parliament had then been abruptly adjourned to save Dr Thabane from the no confidence motion and to give him the opportunity to resolve the power struggle in his fractious party.

Ahead of Friday's re-opening of parliament, pro-Mahao ABC legislators and opposition leaders including Mr Mokhothu told the Lesotho Times that they would still push to oust Dr Thabane through a no confidence vote regardless of how long it took before the motion was tabled.

And on Sunday Mr Mokhothu reiterated his support for the no confidence motion, telling DC supporters in Teyateyaneng that "our stand is very clear and unwavering on the issue".

"Now that parliament has re-opened... they should stop making excuses why the no confidence motion can't be debated... They have lost numbers in parliament and if they doubt me, I dare them to allow debate on the no confidence motion this week and they will see what will become of them.

"We have nothing against Ntate Thabane as a person but we have a problem with the way he governs this country. He is an old man and we will always respect him for that. But we won't just sit back and watch him bring this country into disrepute.

"Hence we say, we are ready for the motion of no confidence. He cannot avoid it forever and we won't let him misgovern us forever. We are firm on that because we represent the people and can't allow such a government to go on. We have filed a motion of no confidence and we are not going back on that."

Mr Mokhothu said they would still push for Dr Thabane's ouster regardless of how long the process took.

He said they would first push for a constitutional amendment to allow parliament to immediately elect a new prime minister upon a successful no confidence vote. In terms of existing laws, a premier who loses a no confidence vote has the choice of either resigning or advising the king to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.

"There is another motion that has been filed for the amendment of the constitution and I don't know if Ntate Thabane realises that in essence, this is still a motion of no confidence. We will see if he will just sit back and watch people closing all the doors and windows around him and leaving him with no option but to go.

"It's his choice. Either he advises His Majesty (King Letsie III) to dissolve parliament or he hands over power without any resistance. But he should be warned that the DC is ready for elections and no one will beat us."

The 41 year-old opposition leader said those who mocked him saying he was too young to lead his party and the country were either ignorant of Lesotho's history or had forgotten that King Moshoeshoe I was less than 35 years old when he founded the Basotho nation in the 19th century.

"They forgot that King Moshoeshoe I, the founder of the Basotho nation, was below the age of 35 and he had just left initiation school. They forgot that Jesus was only 33 when he died after preaching the word of God throughout the world.

"David was only a boy when he defeated Goliath and Dr Ntsu Mokhehle was only 34 when he founded the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP). I dare them to go to the elections against me and see if they will beat me."

Mr Mokhothu also criticised the governing coalition for allegedly politicising the security agencies and preventing the police from investigating alleged acts of brutality against citizens as well as several murder cases including that of the former First Lady, Lipolelo Thabane, who was murdered by unknown gunmen in June 2017.

He also demanded investigations into the murders of former ABC legislator, Sello Machakela (gunned down in 2012), army commander Khoantle Motšomotšo, Brigadier Sechele Bulane and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

Lieutenant General Motšomotšo was assassinated by Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi who stormed the army commander's Ratjomose Barracks offices on 5 September 2017. The duo were said to be angry with Lt-Gen Motšomotšo who they accused of betrayal after he agreed to hand over some soldier wanted by the police for suspected crimes during the tenure of former army commander, Tlali Kamoli.

Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were subsequently gunned down by Lt-Gen Motšomotšo's bodyguards.

And on Sunday Mr Mokhothu demanded to know how far the government had gone with the investigations and when "the murderers are going to be arrested?"

"Some security officers have been detained over political issues and their cases have still not been heard. They are not given bail as well. Other police officers are busy killing civilians day and night and instead of being disciplined, they are just transferred from one post to another.

"A DC government will not allow police officers to meddle in politics. We need them to... serve the nation. We will confiscate uniforms from any officer who does not abide by this and parade them naked on the streets."

Mr Mokhothu also urged his followers to unite and avoid the divisions that had plagued the ABC and other parties.

"You should all hold hands because we need one another. We should forgive one another and fight our common enemy. Whenever they accuse you of wanting to go for elections which are costly, you should tell them this badly administered government is more costly and it is better to go for elections.

"We won't let them misgovern us. The reason why they (ABC factions) don't see eye to eye is because some of them can also see that we are being misgoverned. They are busy awarding among themselves tenders and dissolving boards of institutions just because they want to benefit. They are very corrupt and we know they will run away once they are no longer in power," Mr Mokhothu said.

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