BARELY a week after his appointment, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has incurred the wrath of some of his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party legislators who are unhappy after they were overlooked for cabinet posts.
The situation is reminiscent of the one that faced former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when he came to power in June 2017.
Back then, legislators from the Berea district expressed their anger with Mr Thabane over the fact that only one of their number, Habofanoe Lehana, of the Khafung constituency had been given a ministerial position.
This was despite that the district had given the ABC its second biggest area electoral wins with nine seats out of the 11 contested in that district. The ABC’s biggest win was in the Maseru district where it won 15 of the 18 contested seats.
Now just one week after Dr Majoro came to power at the head of an ABC-Democratic Congress (DC) anchored coalition, some MPs of his own party are again unhappy about being left out. They also allege that Dr Majoro did not even consider individuals’ capacity to deliver and the need to ensure a regional balance when making the appointments.
The legislators say they find it hard to accept that despite working for former premier Thomas Thabane’s ouster and despite winning constituency seats in the last elections, there was no place for them in cabinet. They say they cannot stomach the fact that members of the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) who failed to win a single constituency seat had been appointed.
BNP leader Thesele Maseribane retained his post as Communications, Science and Technology minister while his party deputy, Machesetsa Mofomobe, was moved from his previous post of deputy Home Affairs minister to deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations. RCL leader Keketso Rantšo retained her Labour and Employment portfolio. There was also space in Dr Majoro’s cabinet for some members of the smaller parties backing the ABC-DC coalition.
Although the exact number of disgruntled MPs is not clear, they are led by outspoken Mabote legislator and former ABC parliamentary caucus chairperson Fako Moshoeshoe.
The party’s Taung, Mohale’s Hoek, legislator, Selemo Mangobe, is among them too. It appears the ABC national executive committee (NEC) is taking the MPs’ grievances seriously. It ended up holding a meeting in Maseru this week with ABC legislators in a bid to pacify the disgruntled ones.
ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said the meeting was cordial and they had all agreed to bury the hatchet and work together to strengthen the party.
“We had a very fruitful meeting,” Mr Masoetsa said.
“They (MPs) agreed to follow the right procedures to register their grievances instead of resorting to recording demeaning audio clips attacking one another.
“It has been agreed that anyone who resorts to recording audios will be sanctioned. There should always be consultations between the prime minister and the NEC on party and government issues. We convinced our legislators that we needed our allies from other parties and it was therefore important that they be given ministerial posts as well.”
His remarks about audios was in apparent reference to Mr Moshoeshoe who is heard complaining, to ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele, about the choice of ministers in an audio recording leaked over the weekend.
“We have put up with so much that has happened in this party and we know that as it is, there is still a race over who is going to succeed the party leader (Mr Thabane).
“We can’t accept this (new cabinet). As MPs we voted for you thinking that you are a professional but the way you are doing things is not at all professional. People are going to laugh at us and they will question the calibre of our leaders.
“What kind of deployment of ABC members to cabinet is this? Please go back to the drawing board. What you are doing is not right. We voted for you thinking you would be a unifying force but I have come to learnt that you are not. I am not against who you appoint to cabinet but please do things professionally as what you are doing right now is completely out of order,” Mr Moshoeshoe is heard saying in the audio.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Moshoeshoe confirmed that they had a cordial meeting where they all agreed to put aside their differences and work to strengthen the party ahead of elections in 2022.
He said he had not been waging a personal campaign to be a minister but had only been aggrieved by the appointments which had been made without any considerations of “capacity and regional balance”.
“There is no dissatisfaction pertaining to the ministerial appointments per se. We were just of the view that the deployments were made haphazardly without taking capacity and regional factors into consideration especially now that we are not far from the next election.
“Another thing was that some of these ministers do not have dignity and this would not help to attract new members to our party. We however, agreed to stop taking our issues to the media and focus on growing the party,” said Mr Moshoeshoe.
Mr Mangobe, who had complained about the absence of ministers from his Mohale’s Hoek district, said his was not a personal campaign for appointment.
He said he only wanted competent people who would deliver services to the electorate. He said unless the government made good on its promises to build infrastructure in his constituency, the party would lose the next elections.
“It is really sad that I am struggling to keep our followers happy in this (Taung) constituency due to high unemployment and poor service delivery.
“As it is, I feel rejected as this is one of the most remote constituencies won by the ABC. It is traditionally a congress stronghold and I fear we might lose it in the next elections,” Mr Mangobe said yesterday.