Maseru Mayor, Mpho Moloi, was yesterday toppled by fellow city councillors after narrowly losing a no confidence vote.
Ms Moloi polled nine votes while 10 councillors voted against her in a secret ballot that was witnessed by the Town Clerk, Moeko Maboee and other senior MCC staffers.
Her place was taken by Chief Hlathe Majara who beat fellow nominee, Metsing Mothetsi, by 10 votes to eight in the voting that immediately followed Mr Moloi’s ouster.
The writing had been on the wall for Ms Moloi’ after 10 of the 19 Maseru councillors last week tabled a no confidence motion against her for alleged misconduct. She was accused of misconduct after she walked out of a meeting with Local Government and Chieftainship Minister, Litšoane Litšoane.
She was also accused of publicly abolishing Mr Litšoane’s directives at a press conference and disclosing the MCC’s affairs at a political rally in Mafeteng. The rally was held by the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the ABC. Prof Mahao is the deputy leader of the ABC and his faction is locked in a bitter power struggle with ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
“She (Ms Moloi) misconducted herself in that on or around the 1st of August 2019, the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship held a meeting with members of MCC. In the said meeting, Ms Moloi without reasonable excuse, walked out of the meeting showing no respect to the lawful authority,” the councillors said in the motion.
Last month Mr Litšoane addressed a press conference where he alleged that councillors and officials of the MCC diverted M3, 5 million meant for development projects to pay themselves loans and salary advances.
He also told the media that he had dissolved the Maseru City Council (MCC) tender board because it was illegally constituted as it had councillors sitting on it and awarding tenders in contravention of the Local Government Act of 1997 which specifically prohibits councilors from being part of the tender panel.
Ms Moloi and some of her fellow city councillors responded by holding their own press conference where they accused the minister and the principal secretary, Khothatso Tšooana, of seeking to tarnish their images by spreading “false claims” that they had helped themselves to council money to pay themselves loans and salary advances.
However, in a turn of events last Thursday, 10 councillors turned their backs on Ms Moloi and accused her of being defiant. No reasons were given for the councillors’ about turn.
“On or about the 30th of July 2019, Ms Moloi held a press conference where she publicly declared an abolition of the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship’s lawful directive on the administration and management of MCC.
“On or about 4th August 2019 Ms Moloi addressed a politically rally in Mafeteng where she made several unauthorised disclosures of information of the council to unauthorised persons who were rally attendants,” said the councillors in the no confidence motion.
The councillors also accused Ms Moloi of abusing council property including the official vehicle entrusted to her for official use.
Prior to the no confidence vote yesterday, Ms Moloi attempted to defend herself before fellow councillors, saying the accusations were unfounded.
She said all the councillors had initially agreed to walk out of Mr Litšoane’s meeting if were not happy with the proceedings but to her surprise most of her colleagues stayed behind when she walked out.
“We had planned that we would all walk out of the meeting if we were unhappy with the proceedings. I only realised that we were trapped when some of the councillors remained behind.
“The accusations that I misused the office car shocked me. I seldom used that car because I really did not like it. I have my own car which I love so much. My former drivers would vouch for me if they were called to testify. It was not even my idea to use the office car. It was proposed by some of the councillors who even protested that some senior officials were allowed to take the vehicles home and the same should be granted to the mayor,” Ms Moloi said.
She also said it was necessary for her to address the Mafeteng rally to clear her name before the electorate following Mr Litšoane’s claims that she and other councillors had illegally taken money from the MCC’s account.
“I see no problem with addressing the rally. I had to clear by name before the voters. Those are the people who elected me to be a councillor. I had to address them because I had to restore their trust in me so that they can give me their votes in the next election.”
She was still voted out despite her spirited bid to defend herself.
In a brief interview with this publication, Ms Moloi said she had accepted her removal and pledged to support her successor, Chief Majara.
“I have accepted defeat. I still had some hope before the vote but the outcome was not totally unexpected. However, I am happy that Ntate Majara has been appointed as the new mayor. I will support him in any way that I can,” Ms Moloi said.
Chief Majara was inaugurated as the new MCC mayor by the town clerk, Moeko Maboee.
He later paid a courtesy call on Mr Litšoane, his deputy Kotiti Diholo, PS Tšooana and other senior officials in the Local Government ministry.
Mr Litšoane welcomed Chief Majara and urged him to work well with his colleagues.
“You have to be kind enough to accommodate everyone. You should be seen as the responsible man that I know you to be. You are lucky because as a chief, you already have experience with working with people with different characters. The city of Maseru is in bad shape and we urge you to work hard with your colleagues to improve it,” Mr Litšoane said