. . . proposes deputy SG Nkaku Kabi to replace him as premier
. . . but move unlikely to succeed
SENIOR leaders of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) have decided to recall Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and replace him with party deputy secretary general and cabinet minister Nkaku Kabi.
Their decision was taken at a meeting of the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) on Monday.
Authoritative sources said party leader Mr Thabane, secretary-general Lebohang Hlaele, deputy chairman Chalane Phori, spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa, had pushed for Dr Majoro’s recall as the unrelenting factionalism and strife within the lead coalition government party intensifies in earnest at the expense of governance and service delivery.
However, the sources said their decision is very unlikely to succeed as it will need whole consensus in the party’s NEC, including the backing of all its remaining 35 MPs in parliament, who ultimately wield the power to pass a vote of no confidence against a prime minister should he rebuff the recall efforts.
Even though Mr Thabane and his faction are trying to make the recall issue a purely party matter, with rabid anti-Majoro officials like Mr Phori even pushing for Dr Majoro’s expulsion from the ABC over many alleged transgressions, the question of Dr Majoro’s fate would ultimately end up in Parliament which is constitutionally tasked with electing a new prime minister. The ABC’s key coalition ally, the Democratic Congress (DC), has already intimated that despite its differences with the premier, it will not support any no confidence motion against him. The DC and other smaller parties would unlikely back Mr Kabi.
Dr Majoro, would in any event resist any attempts to recall him, knowing full well that he still holds sway in parliament. Most members of the ABC, serving in Dr Majoro’s current cabinet, would also not support the ouster of the premier for fear of jeopardizing their cushy positions. There is no guarantee any of them would be retained in a new Kabi cabinet.
Mr Kabi is also lukewarm at his nomination to replace Dr Majoro. He was locked in a meeting with Dr Majoro by late last night discussing the issue.
Mr Kabi, a once staunch member of the Thabane faction, at the height of its war with the faction of Professor Nqosa Mahao, who has since dumped the party, has since straddled towards the Majoro faction of the party.
However, Mr Kabi has been accused of being the ultimate Machiavelli of the ABC, bestriding the two factions to build his own power and influence. Still, he is said to be tepid at the proposal of replacing the prime minister, preferring to play the long game to consolidate and build his power until the time gets right for him to pounce.
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The ABC is scheduled to hold another meeting today as its key leaders seek to establish wider consensus against Dr Majoro. The key leaders in the Thabane faction will not relent in rallying the entire NEC to back their recall decision, sources said.
ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa last night confirmed the party’s Monday meeting had discussed Dr Majoro’s fate as premier.
“Yes, it is true that we discussed his (Majoro)’s fate on Monday,” Mr Masoetsa said.
He however refused to divulge details of the discussions, saying the ABC would have long called a press conference if it wanted details of its deliberations published.
“We could have called a press conference if we wanted you to know finer details on that agenda item (Majoro’s fate),” Mr Masoetsa said.
He however rejected information that the Monday NEC meeting proposed the removal of Dr Majoro and replacement with Mr Kabi.
“There is nothing like that and I cannot go into details of discussions surrounding his fate,” Mr Masoetsa said without explaining why a party would devote time to discuss a prime minister’s fate if it still wanted him to remain in that position.
He nevertheless confirmed that the NEC was today expected to hold an extension meeting to discuss “agenda issues that were not covered at the time the Monday meeting was adjourned”.
“Yes, it is true that the ABC NEC will meet tomorrow (today) to conclude discussions on the listed agenda items that were not discussed on Monday,” Mr Masoetsa said.
Asked if Dr Majoro’s future would be part of the NEC’s discussions, Mr Masoetsa said “I don’t know because the agenda is tabled, adopted or rejected so I don’t want to say whether his future will be discussed or not”.
He said the listed agenda items that were not discussed on Monday included the National Reforms Authority (NRA), elections and the party’s manifesto.
However, authoritative ABC sources told this publication the key ABC leaders, including Mr Masoetsa, would maintain their position on Dr Majoro’s recall over a plethora of allegations including that he never consults and disrespects the party’s leadership. Dr Majoro was co-opted into the NEC to replace Prof Mahao after the latter dumped the party to form his own Basotho Action Party (BAP), taking about a dozen ABC MPs with him. Even though the co-option of Dr Majoro was meant to narrow the differences and fierce factionalism in the ABC, it seems to now have achieved the exact opposite as Dr Majoro asserts his independence as prime minister. Mr Thabane’s faction however insists he should take directives from the party’s NEC. Dr Majoro now faces a similar dilemma as the man he replaced, Prof Mahao.
Prof Mahao quit the ABC saying he had grown tired of its endless infighting. He also alleged a plot driven by Mr Thabane and his son in law, the party secretary general Mr Hlaele, to expel him from the party. He was promptly fired as Law and Justice Minister by Dr Majoro. Mr Hlaele had been a strong supporter of Prof Mahao before he reverted back to his father in law’s faction to allegedly smoothen his own ambitions to succeed him.
“The likes of Hlaele and Masoetsa are pushing really hard to ensure that Majoro is removed as the Prime Minister,” said a source, claiming that the Tuesday appearance of Mr Thabane at the High Court in relation to the murder of his ex-wife – Lipolelo – had not made things easy for Dr Majoro.
The Thabane faction had demanded that Dr Majoro ensures that Mr Thabane is never charged with the murder of his ex-wife (see story below). Even though Dr Majoro initially tried to persuade the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, not to proceed with the prosecution, Dr Majoro is said to have failed and ultimately abandoned his exhortations on the DPP.
“The move to officially charge Thabane has not made things any easier for Majoro as they are now accusing him of trying to destabilise their faction to win ground to take over the party…,” said a source.
Mr Hlaele’s predecessor, Samonyane Ntsekele, was also behind the push for Dr Majoro’s recall.
Even though Mr Kabi, who is also agriculture minister, had veered towards the Majoro camp, sources said he was still preferred by Mr Thabane because of his influence in both factions.
“Ultimately, Mr Thabane still believes that Mr Kabi is his man,” said an NEC official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he cannot publicize private party matters. “Even if he has veered to the Majoro camp, Thabane sees Kabi as a better devil than Majoro….”
“Kabi also has that rare ability to play everyone and win them over. He makes them believe he is in their corner… He is our Machiavelli,” said the official.
Even if the decision to recall Majoro will likely hit a brick wall, it still means the ABC will head into the elections as a rudderless, faction ridden entity. If Mr Thabane stubbornly clings to power – to forestall a Majoro takeover of the ABC – while also being in court for murder next year, it will likely make the lead coalition party a hard sell project to the electorate.