PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has warned exiled opposition leaders and Members of Parliament (MPs) to return before parliament reopens on 7 October this year or risk losing their seats.
Addressing thousands of coalition supporters who participated in a march meant to show “full solidarity” with the government in Maseru on Sunday, Dr Mosisili said the opposition MPs would be well-advised to end their boycott “for their own good”.
Former premier and All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leader Keketso Rantšo fled to South Africa in May last year.
The three leaders, and several members of their parties as well as army officers, fled to the neighbouring country claiming the military wanted to kill or arrest them to settle old scores.
Dr Thabane is the MP for Abia No 37 constituency, Chief ‘Maseribane is the MP for Mount Moorosi No 67 constituency, while Ms Rantšo is in parliament through one of the two proportional representation seats allocated to the RCL after the 28 February 2015 general election.
The exiled leaders have insisted they would only return home if Lesotho Defence Force commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli has been relieved of his duties.
“They must come back home to ensure they don’t jeopardise their parliamentary membership status as the law clearly states the timeframe in which an MP can be absent from the august house. Heads will roll if they will not be there,” said Dr Mosisili.
“The truth is we had chosen to ignore this matter and it would therefore be wise for the opposition leaders to stop gambling with their membership as the law will take its course.”
The premier said they would follow through on the threat this time around.
“I am not joking; it is not a nice thing for an MP to lose their membership hence we had turned a blind eye until today,” he said. “However, it would be careless of government to turn a blind eye to the fact that people continue to earn salaries without reporting for work.”
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Dr Mosisili said he “desperately needed” the affirmation of support from the coalition government’s supporters.
“With this march, you have told the whole world your prime minister is doing well in office in consultation with the other coalition government partners,” he said.
“I feel empowered today. The situation was bad. We were not sleeping at night. People were insulting us day and night through social media. I was humiliated because of my age (71 years) and one wonders who doesn’t grow old, when even a newborn baby grows up every day.”
He said the coalition government would now focus its energies on “restoring the country’s dignity that was lost during the last coalition government”.
“You are witnesses that today relations between SADC and Lesotho are good and this is why SADC hears us when we talk to them and is ready to help us in ensuring that we achieve our goals clearly stated in the roadmap submitted to SADC in Swaziland last month,” the Democratic Congress leader said.
“Even those developed countries have many unsatisfied people. There is no government that would be loved by everyone and no government vision will be appreciated by everyone.”
He said it came as no surprise the government now had enemies “within its own structures”.
“The enemy has successfully penetrated and people who are part of this government are fighting us,” Dr Mosisili said.
“Their actions are simply meant to ensure people lose trust in their government. They are shaking the pillars of this government. They are attacking the head of government, deputy prime minister and ministers making it difficult for government to operate smoothly.”
He said it was worrying that “a minister” had chosen not to attend the protest march held in solidarity with the “prime minister and the same government that minister is part of” without elaborating.