DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader Mathibeli Mokhothu has urged Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his coalition partners to re-open parliament to enable legislators to vote for or against the no confidence motion filed against him in June 2019.
Mr Mokhothu, who is also leader of the opposition, said this at a weekend rally at Ha Mohlakoana, Mount Moorosi, Quthing district.
The youthful opposition leader, who succeeded former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, at the helm of the DC in January this year, has thrown his weight behind the no confidence motion filed against Dr Thabane by a faction of the premier’s own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.
The motion was filed by the ABC’s Koro-Koro constituency legislator, Motebang Koma, who is loyal to Dr Thabane’s estranged party deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao. It was immediately seconded by DC deputy leader Motlalentoa Letsosa.
Mr Koma proposed that the ABC’s Mosalemane constituency legislator, Samuel Rapapa, takes over as caretaker prime minister, presumably pending processes that would lead to Prof Mahao assuming the reins of power.
The motion is still to be tabled and voted on after parliament was closed indefinitely in June this year. Although no reason was given for the indefinite closure, it is widely believed that this was done to save Dr Thabane from being toppled and give him the opportunity to resolve the power struggle in his fractious party.
Parliament was only opened early this month to allow the passage of the enabling law for the establishment of the National Reforms Authority as an independent body to oversee the implementation of the multi-sector reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Commission (SADC) in 2016.
It was closed soon after the passing of the bill and the no confidence motion was not even tabled. Mr Mokhothu used the weekend Quthing rally to implore Dr Thabane to re-open parliament to allow legislators to vote on the no confidence motion.
“We stand firm and ask that parliament be opened,” Mr Mokhothu said to cheers from hundreds of DC supporters.
“There is a lot of business that needs to be done in parliament mainly that of the motion of no confidence that has been filed. The motion needs to be debated.
“We can tell that they (government) are in trouble as they keep closing and opening parliament as and when they see fit. This uncertainty is a sign that this government is in its twilight stages. Government is formed by those who have the majority and as it stands, it is evident that government has lost the numbers.”
Mount Moorosi, the venue of Mr Mokhothu’s weekend rally, is the home of Basotho National Party (BNP) leader and Communications Minister Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane.
It is also the home of businessman Bothata Mahlala who recently ditched the Mothejoa Metsing-led Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). Mr Mahlala was among 440 new DC recruits who joined from other parties. Most of the recruits were former LCD members who are allegedly disgruntled by the party’s failure to hold national executive committee elections (NEC) in line with its constitution.
Speaking at the rally, Mr Mokhothu implored the DC supporters to recruit more members and ensure they beat the BNP and other parties in the event that Dr Thabane chooses to advise His Majesty King Letsie III to call for fresh elections.
“The Prime Minister has to hand over power to someone who has the majority to lead the government. But he might refuse to hand over power and instead advise His Majesty King Letsie III to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections. When that happens we should be ready and make sure that we win this constituency and deny the Basotho National Party (BNP) any chance being part of the next government. I don’t want them (BNP) to have a single constituency and it is only through you that this can happen by registering to vote and recruiting members into our party.”
Mr Mokhothu said upon assuming power, a DC government would ensure security for all Basotho and depoliticise the security agencies.
“We (DC) strongly believe in the security of all Basotho without any discrimination on the basis of political affiliation. Our security institutions do not belong to any political party.
“We have to uproot the politics in our security institutions and this shall happen from the stage of recruitment to that of promotions as well as the appointment of heads of the security agencies. The prime minister should not be given unfettered powers to appoint the heads of security agencies. Soldiers should go to the borders and combat stock theft and police should be empowered with skills on protect lives and property.”
Mr Mokhothu also decried the government’s alleged failure to bring rogue officers to book over the torture and deaths of suspects as well as other human rights abuses. He said 50 people had died at the hands of the police since the Thabane administration assumed power in June 2017.
He said instead of prosecuting rogue officers, the government only transferred them to other stations where they continued to work.
“These (the government) are the very people who have in the past crucified us and called us murderers because of the death of just one soldier who died in the line of duty, an officer who we even set up a commission to investigate the circumstances that led to his death.
“Yet, they (the government) still have not bothered to investigate what led to the death of army commander Khoantle Motšomotšo and two other army senior officers (on 5 September 2017). If we were to compare, they (current government) are the murderers. Lesotho is a Christian country and it is wrong to see people dying at this alarming rate when even the 10 commandments provide that ‘thou shalt not kill,” Mr Mokhothu said.
Although he did not mention the murdered soldier by name, the then DC-led government under the leadership of Dr Mosisili requested SADC to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the 25 June 2015 assassination of army commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, by fellow soldiers in Mokema just outside Maseru.
According to the government, Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was assassinated by senior soldiers, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi who stormed Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s Ratjomose Barracks’ offices on 5 September 2017.
The duo were said to be angry with Lt-Gen Motšomotšo who they accused of betrayal after he agreed to hand over some soldiers who were wanted by the police for suspected crimes during the tenure of former army commander, Tlali Kamoli.
However, Colonel Hashatsi’s mother ‘Mamosa, has refused to accept the government’s version, claiming instead that her son was unarmed and murdered in cold blood by fellow soldiers.