All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, has been confirmed Official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.
The largely expected announcement was made in the National Assembly on Monday this week by the Speaker, Nthloi Motsamai, who was reading it from a statement by the ABC National Executive Committee.
With 46 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 120-seat legislature, the ABC is the country’s biggest opposition party, while its former coalition government partner, the Basotho National Party (BNP), has seven. The other opposition party in parliament, the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), has two seats.
A coalition of seven parties led by the Democratic Congress (47 seats), and also comprising the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (12 seats), Morematlou Freedom Party (one seat), Basotho Congress Party (one seat), National Independent Party (one seat), Lesotho People’s Congress (one seat) and Popular Front for Democracy (two seats), assumed power after the 28 February 2015 general elections—taking over from the Dr Thabane-led government made up of the ABC, BNP and LCD, which failed to complete its five-year term due to persistent squabbling between the leadership.
ABC Secretary General Samonyane Ntsekele told the Lesotho Times that Dr Thabane’s appointment was “automatic” since his party had the highest number of seats in the opposition.
“It’s not about an election among opposition parties, as such. By being the leader of the ABC, which has the highest seats on the opposition side, this makes him the automatic choice for the position,” said Mr Ntsekele.
Asked about the alleged squabbles in the ABC and BNP regarding the lucrative post, Mr Nsekele said such claims were baseless and meant to cause unnecessary friction between the parties.
“When we meet as a National Executive Committee of the ABC, automatically the Leader of the Opposition seat belongs to Ntate Thabane. It’s his seat; it’s only when he decides he cannot take the position that there would be alternatives.
“If he has decided to take the post, he has assumed an office he is rightly entitled to as our leader.”
Meanwhile, as Leader of the Opposition, Dr Thabane is entitled to, among other benefits, an office at parliament buildings and perks equivalent to those given to a deputy minister.
These benefits include two chauffeur-driven government vehicles, a personal aide, an office assistant, and a personal secretary.
In addition, Dr Thabane would also draw his monthly salary as a former prime minister