Lesotho: Thabane Resigns, Pledges Support for Majoro

Former Lesotho prime minister Tom Thabane (file photo).

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and former prime minister, Thomas Thabane, has pledged his support for incoming Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.

Mr Thabane pledged his support in his resignation speech broadcast on national television on Tuesday. He also used the opportunity to thank his wife, 'Maesaiah, and family for their support during his tenure.

The former premier resigned from office on Tuesday having first announced in January this year that he intended to leave on or before 31 July 2020.

His resignation comes on the back of a Monday Council of State decision to advise King Letsie III to appoint Moeketsi Majoro as the new Prime Minister. Dr Majoro was sworn into office yesterday. (see story on page 2).

"At its sitting on Monday the 18th May 2020, the Council of State, acting in accordance with section 87 (1) and (2) of the constitution of Lesotho, resolved to advise His Majesty to appoint Dr Moeketsi Majoro, MP for Thetsane Constituency to be Prime Minister designate of the government of Lesotho to succeed the incumbent Prime Minister, Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane," the Secretary to the Council of State, Monehela Phosholi, said in a statement on Monday.

The decision to advise the King to appoint Dr Majoro as the new prime minister was reached after Mr Thabane had doggedly refused to resign from office following the recent collapse of his four-party coalition government in parliament. Mr Thabane had insisted on quitting end of July 2020 at the earliest. But his ABC had insisted he must go sooner or risk a no confidence vote.

Announcing his resignation on national television, Mr Thabane pleaded with the entire nation to support Dr Majoro. He also assured the incoming premier of his own support.

"I plead with the entire nation and leadership to give my successor our utmost support. On my part, I wish to assure him my full support at all material times as he strives to achieve the above lofty ideals of fostering development, protecting the vulnerable and being the voice of the voiceless.

"At all times he (Dr Majoro) must know that his success will depend on him building consensus in government and stretching out his hand across the table to find common ground among all the political players and other sectors of society," Mr Thabane said.

He said he was honoured to have served as the country's prime minister, "the greatest privilege that one can ever have in this country". He also sought the forgiveness of Basotho for the mistakes that he made while thanking his wife and family for their support.

"It has been my greatest honour to serve in that capacity (of PM). I, therefore, wish to thank all Basotho from the bottom of my heart for the trust that they bestowed in me.

"Where I have erred, I sincerely seek your indulgence to forgive me as I did not do so intentionally. Allow me also to take this opportunity to thank my wife and my entire family for their unwavering support to me as Prime Minister.

"Through it all, they have been a pillar of strength to me. Their words of love and encouragement, coupled with their deeds of support to me have not gone unnoticed. Without a doubt I know that they share my pain, grief and joy," Mr Thabane said.

He thanked his ex-coalition partners Alliance of Democrats leader Monyane Moleleki, Basotho National Party leader Thesele Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo for their support over the past three years.

"To my colleagues in parliament and in the political arena, I wish to also thank you for your contribution towards our socioeconomic development agenda. Please do not forget that your call is to make Lesotho a country that truly works for everyone, and not just for those in power," he said.

Mr Thabane said when he announced his intention to resign in January, he "did so did so with all sincerity because of my full conviction and belief that to everything there is a season, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted".

"But, because of the deeply entrenched political polarisation in our society, some decided to use my announcement for political gain, while others resigned themselves into further entrenching divisions among Basotho. Today I will be vindicated against such pundits," Mr Thabane said.

He added: "My fellow countrymen and women, I appear before you today (Tuesday) to announce that the work that you had assigned me may not yet be over, but the time to retire from the great theatre of action and take leave from public life and office, has finally arrived".

Mr Thabane said in the past three years as prime minister, he was focused on building "stable and resilient government institutions, improve the livelihoods of Basotho, as well as assure every Mosotho of a secure future".

He attributed the setting up of the National Reforms Authority to spearhead the comprehensive implementation of national reforms recommended by SADC to his government's "relentless efforts".

Mr Thabane said his government also improved the country's social grants for the elderly, people living with disability and other vulnerable groups.

"Despite these laudable milestones, the road to development remains elusive. The gains that we have made are now, inter alia (among other things), threatened by the invisible novel coronavirus that has besieged the whole world and devastated the global economy.

"From postponing the future of our youth as a result of closure of education establishments and learning institutions, to halting of economic and social development with the restrictions placed on budding innovators and entrepreneurs, the impact of COVID-19 has, indeed, threatened our development agenda," he said.

Mr Thabane said these challenges speak to the reality that the job of the prime minister involves facing endless challenges which his successor, Dr Majoro, will have to contend with.

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