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Mahao loyalist Koma joins Thabane faction

  • legislator said to be unhappy with cabinet snub after his efforts in pushing for Thabane’s ouster  

 Pascalinah Kabi

ANOTHER chapter has been added to the long-drawn war for the control of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC).

This amid indications that Koro-Koro constituency legislator Motebang Koma, a staunch supporter of the party’s deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao, has jumped ship and joined the rival faction which professes allegiance to ABC leader Thomas Thabane.

Prof Mahao yesterday said he was very busy and therefore unable to comment on this and other party and government issues.

Mr Koma is said to have ditched the Mahao camp in anger over its failure to ensure that he was appointed a minister in the new government which came to power in the wake of Mr Thabane’s ouster on 20 May 2020.

Mr Thabane was prime minister until he was forced to step down in favour of the incumbent Moeketsi Majoro by the pro-Mahao ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) in May this year.

The NEC had forged a new coalition with the Democratic Congress (DC) to replace the Thabane-led governing coalition which consisted of the ABC, Alliance of Democrats (AD), the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and the Basotho National Party (BNP).

The ouster of Mr Thabane was the culmination of a power struggle with Prof Mahao which began when the latter was nominated by Mr Koma and his Koro-koro constituency to contest the party’s deputy leader’s post at the ABC’s 2019 elective conference.

Even after his victory, Mr Thabane continued to resist Prof Mahao’s election and even “fired” him from the party. Mr Koma and his constituency stood by Prof Mahao when Mr Thabane “expelled” him from the party in June 2019. The decision was overturned by the High Court last December.

Earlier in June 2019, Mr Koma had even filed a no confidence motion against Mr Thabane as punishment for the latter’s bid to oust Prof Mahao and his NEC loyalists.

The issue was still pending in parliament when the ABC’s NEC eventually forged a coalition with the DC resulting in Mr Thabane’s ouster and the advent of the Majoro-led government in May.

But in a new turn of events, authoritative party sources this week told the Lesotho Times that Mr Koma, who had backed the NEC, has now joined forces with the Thabane loyalists. The former premier’s allies are plotting a no confidence vote against the government when parliament reopens on 5 October 2020.

Mr Koma is said to have been angered by being overlooked for a ministerial post in the new government despite his sacrifices in the fight against Mr Thabane.

Two other ABC MPs, Mokherane Tsatsanyane (Stadium Area constituency) and Sello Mooki (Bobatsi constituency), dumped the party in June this year to join the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD). Other MPs have indicated that they might follow suit if their concerns are not addressed.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Koma said he was busy and he will “speak on the issue one day”.

“Oh, that issue. I am busy now and unable to talk about that matter. I will tell you about it one day,” Mr Koma said.

The ABC’s Koro-koro constituency committee’s secretary general, Moroke Keketsi, said he would only comment after meeting Mr Koma next week over the issue.

According to the sources, the disgruntled ABC MPs want Thaba-Phatšoa legislator Mahala Molapo to lead a proposed coalition of the ABC and the opposition AD whose leader Monyane Moleleki served as a loyal deputy prime minister in Mr Thabane’s government.

“He (Koma) has joined the disgruntled ABC MPs who are plotting to oust Dr Majoro. He is unhappy that he was not appointed to the new cabinet despite his sacrifices in support of Prof Mahao and the ABC’s NEC before and after the party’s February 2019 elective conference,” a source said.

Another source said, “he (Koma) has joined the Thabane allies who are pushing for Molapo to lead a proposed ABC-AD coalition”.

Mr Molapo initially served as Agriculture and Food Security minister when Mr Thabane came to power in 2017. He was later moved to the Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs ministry.

Mr Thabane’s wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, is said to be mobilising legislators from different political parties to support a no confidence motion against Dr Majoro when parliament re-opens after its winter break next month.

She has also been traversing the country meeting with all and sundry and making donations to drum up support for her plans.

A fortnight ago, AD spokesperson Thuso Litjobo confirmed that his party was indeed in talks with the ABC to push a no confidence vote whenever parliament reconvenes on 5 October 2020.

Mr Litjobo expressed confidence that the vote will succeed as they had “the numbers including some ABC ministers in the current government”.

It will however be a tall order to topple the government as it commands overwhelming numbers in parliament. The ABC and DC jointly have 75 seats including the disgruntled Thabane loyalists.

Seven smaller parties also back the ABC-DC coalition with their combined 18 seats. The smaller parties are Movement for Economic Change (6 seats), BNP (5 seats), Popular Front for Democracy (3 seats) and one seat each from Basotho Congress Party (BCP), RCL, National Independent Party (NIP) and the Marematlou Freedom Party.

Despite this, Ms Thabane and fellow Thabane loyalists believe they can topple the government.

Their confidence stems from the fickle nature of Lesotho’s politicians who can easily jump ship at a moment’s notice especially if they are enticed with monetary rewards and promises of ministerial and other appointments.

They feel buoyed by the events surrounding the vote for the deputy speaker of parliament’s position. Back in June, 24 ABC MPs voted with the opposition against their party’s preferred candidate.

Lebohang Ramohlanka, the new coalition’s choice, eventually won with a wafer-thin margin of 61 votes in the 120-member parliament. Her opponent, Nyapane Kaya, an ABC legislator, was ironically nominated by the opposition AD to contest.

 

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