ABC, disgruntled MPs seek to heal rift
THE All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) says it has made significant progress towards mending relations with disgruntled party legislators.
ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said they met the disgruntled MPs yesterday and they agreed not to revolt against the party by voting with the opposition again, as they had done in parliament last week over the ballot for the deputy speaker.
There has been palpable anger among the MPs over the appointment of Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leaders to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s cabinet ahead of the ABC MPs.
Dr Majoro succeeded ABC leader Thomas Thabane on 20 May 2020 and appointed the BNP and RCL leaders to his new cabinet. But the appointments were not well-received by ABC MPs who felt they should have been rewarded for helping oust Mr Thabane.
So far, two MPs, Mokherane Tsatsanyane (Stadium Area constituency) and Sello Mooki (Bobatsi constituency) have dumped the party to join the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD). Other MPs have indicated that they might follow suit if their concerns are not addressed.
Twenty-four disgruntled ABC legislators revolted against the government and twice voted with the opposition in parliament last week. They first voted against the government’s move to oust then deputy speaker Teboho Lehloenya on the grounds that he was a member of the AD which was now an opposition party after the collapse of the previous government.
Two days later, the MPs joined the opposition in an unsuccessful bid to install the ABC’s Mechachane legislator, Nyapane Kaya, as the new deputy speaker. This despite that their party and its allies had proposed Lebohang Ramohlanka who eventually won the post.
He polled 61 votes to Mr Kaya’s 48. The opposition has a combined 24 seats, meaning the other 24 came from the government side.
Shortly afterwards 15 of the 24 disgruntled ABC legislators wrote to the NEC, requesting a meeting “to discuss the cabinet appointments and other pressing party issues”.
An MP who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity last night said ABC leader Mr Thabane, deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao and Prime Minister Majoro did not attend the meeting.
“The NEC made Majoro the scapegoat, saying he was the one who appointed cabinet ministers.
“They (NEC) said he (Dr Majoro) did not take into consideration a list of names that the NEC forwarded to him for consideration,” the MP said.
The MP said it was agreed that a joint meeting of all ABC MPs, the NEC and Dr Majoro should be urgently held to get to the bottom of the matter. He said they also discussed the NEC’s conduct, particularly that of Mr Masoetsa.
Mr Masoetsa is accused of disrespecting the MPs by telling them to leave if they were unhappy with the NEC’s handling of their grievances and other party affairs.
Mr Masoetsa confirmed the NEC’s meeting with the MPs, saying “the agenda of the meeting was to iron out issues raised by our parliamentarians who are unhappy and had resolved to vote with the opposition”.
“They tabled grievances they wanted the committee to address. They also made an undertaking not to defect to other parties. But they wanted the committee to listen to them.
“We agreed that they will no longer vote with the opposition. We have not agreed on a further meeting because we first need to find a facilitator,” Mr Masoetsa said.
On allegations that the NEC had shifted the blame for the cabinet appointments on Dr Majoro, he said, “we told them that they are complaining to the wrong body because it is only the prime minister who is tasked with appointing cabinet members by the constitution”.
“The person who appoints ministers is the prime minister, not the NEC. It is not our responsibility to appoint ministers,” he said.
On allegations that he had told disgruntled MPs to leave the party, Mr Masoetsa said, “I have no powers to expel any ABC member, let alone an MP. It is the responsibility of constituencies to expel members after following legal processes”.