ABC legislators punish Moshoeshoe for siding with Thabane

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s Mabote legislator Fako Moshoeshoe has paid the price for apparently siding with party leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. The fractious party’s parliamentary caucus has resolved to oust him as its chairman.

The ABC’s Matsieng legislator Ms ’Matšepo Ramakoae has been appointed to replace Mr Moshoeshoe. The move has been endorsed by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) — dominated by members loyal to deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao.

Mr Moshoeshoe is resisting the move but it appears he is fighting a losing battle after the majority of the party’s 52 legislators snubbed his call for an urgent caucus meeting with Mr Thabane at the old State House in Maseru on Sunday.

He told the Lesotho Times that the meeting had been called to dissuade the legislators from going ahead with their plans to forge a new government with the opposition Democratic Congress (DC), the Basotho National Party BNP), the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD).

“He (Thabane) pleaded with MPs who were present to reconsider and iron out their issues with the ABC’s coalition partners if they feel that they are not happy,” Mr Moshoeshoe said.

“He (Thabane) said he was not demanding but begging them because going for a new coalition would make them lose numbers and eventually compromise them.

“The other issue was that of service delivery. We all agreed that some of our ministers are underperforming and this has led to criticism of the government.”

Although he claimed the meeting was “well attended” he did not provide a figure. Some ABC legislators interviewed claimed the meeting was poorly attended because it had been called by Mr Moshoeshoe who they no longer recognised as chair of the party caucus.

The party’s chief whip, Lepota Sekola, said they snubbed the meeting because they were no longer happy with Mr Thabane’s leadership.

“I told them not to go and we agreed. The only time we are going to meet Ntate Thabane is at parliament, not at his place or anywhere else,” said Mr Sekola.

He said they had since confirmed Ms Ramakoae as the chairperson of the caucus because Mr Moshoeshoe had failed them on several occasions when they wanted to convene meetings to discuss pressing issues.

Ms Ramakoae confirmed she had taken over the post of caucus chairperson after Mr Moshoeshoe failed to discharge his duties.

“It is surprising that Mr Moshoeshoe still considers himself chairperson of the caucus even after he has failed us so many times and told us that he was busy with other things. We have had to make so many decisions in his absence…

“I often acted in his place and never wanted the post for keeps. But when it became evident that he was never going to show up when we needed him, I assumed the reins. We even tried to find out from him why he was always absent but he didn’t furnish us with any answers,” said Ms Ramakoae.

Mr Moshoeshoe is among 18 ABC legislators who have refused to back the ABC-DC deal to form a new government which excludes Mr Thabane and current coalition partner, the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD). Thirty-four ABC legislators including some cabinet ministers have endorsed the proposed deal catapulting Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro to the post of prime minister with DC leader Mathibeli Mokhothu as deputy.

Until recently, Mr Moshoeshoe was a staunch supporter of Prof Mahao. He backed the ABC deputy leader when Mr Thabane attempted to fire the former and other NEC members from the party in the aftermath of the ABC’s February 2019 elective conference.

Mr Moshoeshoe has since been accused of being a backstabber by his erstwhile colleagues who allege that he was promised a ministerial post in return for refusing to sign a pledge to support the formation of a new government.

Mr Moshoeshoe has however denied selling out. He told this publication he was neutral and keen to reunite the party which was now split between those who supported the ABC-DC deal and those who backed Mr Thabane’s moves to forge a new government with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC).

Ms Ramakoae insisted Mr Moshoeshoe was no longer on the same page with his erstwhile colleagues on several important issues including the proposed constitutional amendment bill to clip the prime minister’s powers to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections after losing a no confidence vote.

“We had the pressing issue of choosing the prime minister’s successor and we had also agreed to oppose the formation of a government of national unity (by Mr Thabane with the AD, LCD and MEC). But in all these meetings Moshoeshoe did not show his face until on the day of the election of the prime minister’s successor…

“We became convinced that Moshoeshoe was no longer interested in the progress of the party… He let us down and so I took up the post (of caucus chairperson),” said Ms Ramakoae.

ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said the party’s NEC had endorsed the choice of Ms Ramakoae by party MPs.

“Procedurally whoever gets to be appointed as the caucus chairperson has to be given the green light by the NEC.

“Our MPs are not happy with Ntate Moshoeshoe and we have had to accept the choice of Ms Ramakoae to replace him. The NEC is not part of the caucus and all it has to do is to ensure that the party constitution is not flouted.

“Now that most of the parliamentarians have said that they no longer have any confidence in Moshoeshoe, there is nothing we can do about it except to accept their wish. They have chosen to appoint Ramakoae and she is the new chairperson of the ABC caucus,” said Mr Masoetsa.

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