…accuses them of conniving to unprocedurally make diplomatic appointments
Mohalenyane Phakela/’Marafaele Mohloboli
ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Nkaku Kabi, has slammed Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro for allegedly conniving with his deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu, to unprocedurally deploy 23 individuals to Lesotho’s various diplomatic missions abroad.
While Mr Kabi’s gripe with the appointments is that they were made without the ABC national executive committee (NEC)’s knowledge, opposition is livid because they were allegedly made by a caretaker government.
Under the constitution, a caretaker government cannot make any major appointments.
Dr Majoro is a member of Mr Kabi’s own ABC while Mr Mokhothu leads the Democratic Congress (DC). The two parties anchor the governing coalition. Mr Kabi has been involved in a bitter power struggle with Dr Majoro. He beat the premier to clinch the ABC leadership in January this year. However, his attempts to wrest the premiership from Dr Majoro failed after the latter comfortably survived a March parliamentary no confidence vote largely to support from Mr Mokhothu’s DC.
Mr Kabi subsequently announced that he and Dr Majoro had buried the hatchet and would henceforth address joint campaign rallies ahead of next month’s general elections. Dr Majoro has however, been conspicuous by his absence from ABC rallies addressed by Mr Kabi, prompting speculation that the much-touted truce had failed to hold.
Mr Kabi seemingly confirmed this by laying into the premier at a rally attended by more than 3000 ABC supporters this week in Kolonyama, Leribe.
Of particular concern, Mr Kabi said, were the allegedly clandestine diplomatic appointments.
He alleged that Dr Majoro had made the appointments in consultation with the DC but without the knowledge and approval of the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC).
He charged that the appointments were controversial and could create unnecessary tensions between the two governing parties.
“It has come to our attention that the government has appointed some officials to Lesotho’s foreign embassies and most of them are DC members,” Mr Kabi said.
“Our NEC asked the DC, who are our partners in government, what criteria was used to deploy those people and why the ABC NEC was left out of discussions to come up with the list of appointees. We were told that we wouldn’t have known because Ntate (Moeketsi) Majoro had resigned from the ABC NEC. This means that he is not answerable to us and does not see the need to inform us.
“Let’s be mindful that there are factions within the ABC. I put the blame squarely on Dr Majoro because he knew what was happening but he did not inform us as the NEC,” Mr Kabi said.
He said the ABC and the DC had enjoyed a good working relationship in the coalition government since its inception in May 2020 and he wanted things to remain that way.
“We haven’t had any problems with the DC until now. Please do me a favour Ntate Mokhothu, let’s keep things that way because we don’t know what the election results hold for us and whom we might have to work with.
“We cannot afford to make enemies now; it’s unnecessary. Tomorrow we might need each other. May God help us to forge and press on with our quest for peace,” Mr Kabi said.
Both Mr Mokhothu and Dr Majoro were not reachable for comment on Mr Kabi’s claims.
Prominent individuals are said to have been posted to various missions. These allegedly include current Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister, ‘Matšepo Ramakoae of the ABC, DC stalwart and former Finance minister ‘Mamphono Khaketla and former Deputy Education Minister Thabang Kholumo (also DC).
Others said to be on the list are DC member and former National Security Services officer Paila Mofolo. Doreen Chaolana, Likhapha Seliane, Maabia Bokopane, Mookho Mphonyo, Azael Letsie, Mamoitheri Hanese, Mohlomeli Tikiso, Teboho Mokone, Mohlomi Sello, Likhapha Sellane, Thaha Letsie, Tebello Raase and Mamorapeli Lesoetsa also make the list.
Although there has not been an official announcement, well-placed government sources said the appointees were expected to leave for their various destinations at the end of the month.
However, Ms Ramakoae denied claims that she had been appointed to any foreign mission.
“People should stop using cheap politics to taint other people’s images.
“I’m not one of those who’ve been posted. If I really wanted I could have gone a long time ago. It would not be a strange thing if I were to go to an embassy because I am more qualified than most people who have gone. However, I have no interest in going to the embassies. There is nothing for me there,” Ms Ramakoae said in an interview with the Lesotho Times.
While confirming that appointments had indeed been made, she however said they were made a long time ago before the governing coalition had assumed its current status as a caretaker government following the 13 July dissolution of parliament in preparation for next month’s polls.
According to the constitution, a caretaker government is only charged with maintaining the status quo and not making major appointments.
“Those people were appointed a long time ago, some even last year. Others left the country around February and April this year,” Ms Ramakoae said.
She said accreditation could be a long drawn-out process in some instances hence why some of the appointees were yet to take up their new jobs.
Despite her explanation, opposition parties are adamant that the appointments were recently made by the caretaker government.
In a recent statement, the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democratic (AD) accused the government of contravening the constitution by making the appointments.
“It has come to the attention of the AD that the government led by Prime Minister Majoro and Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, which by law is a caretaker government, has made a decision to appoint to the diplomatic missions 23 men and women.
“This has happened when the caretaker government has no authority to hire and send anyone to any foreign mission on behalf of Basotho. This is one of the issues which were raised by the nation in the Plenary II of the national reforms process,” the AD said.
The appointments were a form of vote buying by the ABC and the DC, the AD said.
“The new government (to be installed after the elections) will find itself saddled with an uncontrollable civil service installed through politics. It will also have to deal with unnecessary expenditure of having to pay people whom they would not have opted to hire at the expense of the taxpayers,” the AD said.
It said the deployments were a repetition of what transpired in 2017 when the then Pakalitha Mosisili-led caretaker government hired hordes of civil servants for diplomatic missions a few months before the polls that year.
The Mothetjoa Metsing-led Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) also blasted the appointments.
LCD secretary general, Teboho Sekata, told the Lesotho Times that the move was an insult to the national reforms process.
“This is a huge contravention of the law which has shocked us. The coalition partners are undermining the reforms which are intended to shape this country.
“They are abusing power knowing very well that they are a caretaker government which cannot make this kind of decision. They do not have power to do any appointments whatsoever,” Mr Sekata said.
Teboho Mojapela’s Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) echoed similar sentiments.
SR spokesperson, Thabo Shao, said they were contemplating filing a court application for the nullification of the appointments.
“We are not surprised because this is what successive governments have done that over the years. This is a caretaker government. It cannot make any appointments, especially of high-ranking officials like these. They are forbidden by law and they know that. We’re contemplating court action to have the appointments nullified,” Mr Shao said.