LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has bizarrely blamed the murders of army commander Maaparankoe Mahao and Police Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko on Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s use of his constitutional powers to prorogue parliament in 2014.
Mr Metsing said it was therefore important for parliament to approve the constitutional amendments proposed by opposition Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane, to strip the prime minister of his powers to arbitrarily prorogue parliament without the approval of two thirds of all the legislators. Advocate Rakuoane also proposed to strip the prime minister of his powers to dissolve parliament and advise the king to call for fresh elections in the event that the premier loses a no confidence vote.
Adv Rakuoane’s motion was seconded by Mr Metsing before it was unanimously approved by legislators from across the political divide last Tuesday.
The overwhelming endorsement of his motion by legislators from across the political divide clears the way for Adv Rakuoane to draft a constitutional amendment bill to clip the prime ministers’ powers and table it before parliament for approval.
Mr Metsing this week welcomed the endorsement of Adv Rakuoane’s motion, saying constitutional amendments to curtail the prime minister’s arbitrary powers were the best hope out of the current political instability which he blamed on his 2014 fallout with Dr Thabane, his then coalition partner.
He said their fallout over Dr Thabane’s decision to prorogue parliament kickstarted the chain of events which led to the deaths of Lt-Gen Mahao and Police Sub Inspector Ramahloko. Lt-Gen Mahao was murdered by fellow soldiers on 25 June 2015, ostensibly on the orders of then army chief, Lt-Gen Kamoli who accused him of mutiny against his command. Lt-Gen Kamoli and nine other soldiers have since been charged with his murder. Lt-Gen Kamoli has also been charged with the murder of Police Sub Inspector Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Mr Metsing had been in government with Dr Thabane and the Thesele Maseribane-led Basotho National Party (BNP) from 2012 until 2015. However, Mr Metsing and Dr Thabane fell out over several issues including the latter’s alleged side-lining of Mr Metsing in crucial decision making. Dr Thabane sought to stave off a no confidence motion by proroguing parliament in June 2014 and Mr Metsing believes his use of his powers to prorogue parliament kick-started the chain of events which led to the deaths of Lt-Gen Mahao and Police Sub Inspector Ramahloko.
Addressing LCD supporters in Khubetsoana, Mr Metsing said the murders of Lt-Gen Mahao and Police Sub Inspector Ramahloko and the resultant political instability would not have happened had it not for the premier’s powers to prorogue parliament.
“Had it not been for the fall out between us and our then coalition partners over prorogation, maybe the former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao and Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko would still be alive and there wouldn’t be any soldiers in detention. Ntate Thabane would not have fled the country in a car boot,” Mr Metsing said.
“I am only referring to this matter because I want people to appreciate the importance of amending the constitution to stop the prime minister from unilaterally advising the king to dissolve parliament whenever his administration is threatened.
“Ntate Thabane can attest to how the (2014) prorogation negatively impacted on us as a country. We are in this current state of political instability because of the prorogation. My heart has never stopped bleeding since 2014 and I want every Mosotho to think deeply about this (the amendment of the constitution) and they should not just take it as an issue of political gymnastics.
“As the LCD, we believe that this country needs peace, reconciliation and unity and we would like to appeal to Maseru residents to help bring about the change they would want to see as they have done in the past.”
Mr Metsing said his entire political journey had been a frustrating one as it was characterised by fights with coalition partners as well as infighting within his own party. He said the pain he had endured compelled him to file the motion along with Adv Rakuoane and it would be his legacy to the country “in case something bad happened to me”.
“I have had to put up with so much pain even in my own party and the apex of it all was when we fought with our coalition partners (in 2014). This compelled me to file this motion because I do not know what the future holds for me. So, I decided to partner with Ntate Rakuoane (to file the motion) in case something bad happened to me.
“That way I am sure that if I were to die, at least that motion would serve the generations to come. Parliament has to be a source of peace and hope in this country.
“My political journey has never been a happy one and I think the day I start experiencing some joy, it will be a sign of the end of my journey. For the longest time I have not had peace.
“The filing of that motion in parliament last week is therefore a clear sign of how good the Lord has been to us and all glory should be given to him. We have seen the Lord’s mercy on us. The joining of forces by all legislators to endorse the motion is God’s doing.”
He welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s support for the motion, saying this was a sign of the growth and maturity of Lesotho’s politics.
“I believe that no party shall ever garner two thirds majority in parliament and that means we need to work with one another. With this motion, we shall observe a big difference in Lesotho’s politics as no prime minister will ever be arrogant because doing so will mean that he loses power. There will no longer be any recourse to prorogation.
“This motion is a litmus test and the salvation of this country is in the hands of all the legislators. Should we fail (to pass the constitutional amendments), we will have failed this nation as politicians.
“Just like the human body whose parts are equally important, each of us regardless of political affiliation is important to the success of this motion and its failure would spell doom for the national reforms.”
Mr Metsing also alluded to the ABC power struggle pitting ABC leader Thomas Thabane against his deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao. ABC legislators loyal to Prof Mahao have filed a no confidence motion against Dr Thabane which has been supported by all opposition parties except Mr Metsing’s LCD.
Mr Metsing is holding out for a coalition deal with Dr Thabane as well as an agreement for the release of the murder-accused Lt-Gen Kamoli in exchange for supporting Dr Thabane against the motion.
On Sunday he likened the ABC infighting to a fight between two elephants, saying the country would suffer as a result.
“We are standing between these two elephants where one side wants to topple the government and the other wants to save it. But the LCD believes that we need one another.
“Let us be patriotic and not allow our hatred for one another to blind us to the bigger national issues. Let us put our people and the country first and do things for the betterment of future generations,” Mr Metsing said.