Lesotho: I Have Survived Countless Attempts To Topple Me - Majoro

Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro (file photo).
8 September 2020

Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro says his government has survived "countless attempts" to overthrow it.

In a speech to mark his first 100 days in charge this week, Dr Majoro said the attempts to topple him began "just two days after we took office".

He, however, said he was confident his government would last the distance and only make way for a new government to be elected at the 2022 polls.

Dr Majoro came to power on 20 May 2020 after the collapse of the previous Thomas Thabane-led government. Mr Thabane was forced to step down by his All Basotho Convention (ABC), over allegations he murdered his ex-wife, just a month shy of his third anniversary.

Lesotho has experienced chronic instability over the years and all the governments between 2012 and 2020 have failed to last the distance. Mr Thabane's first government, which came to power in 2012 collapsed in 2015 after he fell out with his then coalition partner, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

It was replaced by the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties coalition which also collapsed in March 2017 after losing a no confidence vote in parliament.

The collapse of the Mosisili government paved the way for the return of Mr Thabane at the head of a four-party coalition in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 snap elections. That government collapsed in May this year after Mr Thabane's ABC resolved to withdraw from the coalition and form a new one with the Democratic Congress (DC).

Dr Majoro marked his 100th day in office on 27 August 2020 after he was catapulted to power with DC leader Mathibeli Mokhothu as his deputy. The new government has not known peace as there have been repeated attempts by some disgruntled ABC members to sabotage it. Some ABC legislators including Mokherane Tsatsanyane (Stadium Area constituency) and Sello Mooki (Bobatsi) expressed their anger at being overlooked for appointment as cabinet ministers. The two have since defected to the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD).

Some Thabane loyalists have also vowed to bring down the government over what they say is the ill-treatment of Mr Thabane. Among other things, they have demanded that Dr Majoro order the police and the judiciary not to arrest and try Mr Thabane for the 2017 murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo.

But despite all these nascent threats, Dr Majoro remains confident that his administration will buck the trend of governments collapsing prematurely.

"We are very confident that we shall make it to 2022 and beyond regardless of the countless efforts to unseat us barely two days after we took office," Dr Majoro told the media this week.

"We are so much used to this by now (attempts to topple the government) as it is an everyday issue. At first it was said that by August 2020, we would be history but we still stand. Now we hear that this government has been given until December, so we'll just watch the space," Dr Majoro said in a ceremony in Maseru to mark the 100 days' milestone. He did not reveal who had said his government will not last beyond December 2020.

His confession vindicates the Lesotho Times which has consistently and accurately reported on the various schemes to topple him.

He said although it was difficult to sustain coalitions due to various factors including ideological differences, the current government was fortunate in that it was only made up of two parties.

"It is very difficult to be in a coalition government as it is established by people with different ideologies and objectives. This means that it must be handled with the utmost care by those who lead it.

"But the difference with other coalitions is that ours is between two parties which command the majority support in parliament. Due to its composition of just two parties, it is likely to be stable compared to those that have come before it."

Dr Majoro said dealing with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been the biggest challenge for his administration since it came to power.

"Fighting Covid-19 is at the centre of our agenda. There have been some grievances pertaining to the administration of the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC) and we established the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) in its place to ensure transparency. But there are people who are still not happy with it (NACOSEC).

"However, as government, we are satisfied with NACOSEC as we have managed to ensure the dissemination of information to the public regarding this pandemic," Dr Majoro said.

He said a major achievement of his government was to introduce local testing for the deadly virus instead of sending suspected cases to South Africa. He said the country now conducted tests on a daily basis and the results were available within 24 hours.

"Very soon we'll be launching a digital application which will assist in tracking Covid-19 suspects and identifying hotspot areas. As of now the application is being piloted and it should be available before the end of the month."

He said among other achievements, his government had availed personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers and others who needed it. He said they had also improved water supplies to people in the different districts.

Dr Majoro said his government had assisted more than 45 000 factory workers with monthly subsidies of M800 each for three months (May, June and July) to cushion them from the economic impact of Covid-19.

He said they had also added another 11 000 children to the list of those eligible for child grants, bringing the total number of recipients to 49 000.

He, however, conceded that tackling rampant crime remained a huge challenge for his government.

"We can't deny the fact that there are numerous reports of crimes in the country. We are determined to take criminals head on and to that end, we have established a joint task force of all the security agencies," Dr Majoro said.

Other achievements of the new government listed by Dr Majoro include the following:

Training health workers on Covid-19 case management, surveillance and infection prevention and control.

Rolling out an electronic medical record (e-register) system to 178 health facilities to enhance patients' data capturing. The system now keeps clear records of all patients including data on HIV/AIDS testing, care and treatment, maternal and adolescent and child health.

Procuring 78 358 PPE for Grade 7, Form C, Grade 11 and LGCE students and teachers who will soon be returning to the classrooms.

Providing 10 000 litre water tanks to 769 primary schools and such tanks are being delivered to the various schools country-wide to ensure they adhere to Covid-19 health protocols meant to fight the spread of the disease.

Providing social grants and wheel chairs to people with disabilities.

Paying more than 83 000 pensioners and issuing identification cards to 3745 pensioners to enable them to receive their old age pensions.

Completing the construction of the first batch of 22 shearing sheds under the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) in the 10 districts.

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