‘Cabinet reshuffle a masterstroke’



Some of the Ministers during the swearing in of new Ministers on Wednesday at Royal Palace
Some of the Ministers during the swearing in of new Ministers on Wednesday at Royal Palace

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

TUESDAY’S cabinet reshuffle is a “smart” political move by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to “crush” the Lirurubele faction Democratic Congress (DC), led by its deputy leader Monyane Moleleki, analysts have observed.

Dr Mosisili is leader of the DC, but factionalism within the main party in the seven-member coalition government has intensified to the extent that two distinct factions have emerged.

Dubbed Lithope (girlfriends) and Lirurubele (butterflies), the two DC factions are aligned to Dr Mosisili and Mr Moleleki respectively.

Analysts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week, say Dr Mosisili’s move was mainly motivated by the tension within the DC, among other factors.

Dr Mosisili purged or demoted ministers aligned to the DC’s Lirurubele faction. Mr Moleleki was shuffled from the Ministry of Police and Public Safety to the Prime Minister’s Office, which the analysts said was a move by the premier to “relegate” and “fix” the DC deputy leader and his followers.

The ministers who were given their marching orders were Kabelo Marufa (Forestry and Land Reclamation), Dr Mahali Phamotse (Education and Training), Thabiso Litšiba (Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing) and Agriculture and Food Security Deputy Minister Dr ‘Mamosa Molapo.

Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Kimetso Mathaba, was redeployed to the Ministry of Water. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Tlohang Sekhamane, was swapped with his counterpart former Minister of Finance ’Mamphono Khaketla.

And the former Law, Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa was reappointed Education and Training Minister, while former Energy and Meteorology Minister Selibe Mochoboroane replaced Mr Litšiba in the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing.

The former Water Minister Ralechate ’Mokose was also redeployed Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation. The former Communications, Science and Technology Minister Khotso Letsatsi replaces Mr Mochoboroane in the Energy and Meteorology Ministry.

And former deputy ministers, Phallang Monare and Mokhele Moletsane, of Home Affairs and Public Works and Transport respectively, have been promoted ministers of police and law respectively.

Newly-appointed ministers and deputy ministers are Serialong Qoo (Communications), Tumahole Lerafa (Agriculture), Lethusang Kompi (Home Affairs) and ’Manthabiseng Phohleli (Public Works).

The Transformation Resource Center’s Tsikoane Peshoane said Dr Mosisili had “outsmarted” Mr Moleleki by applying a “divide and conquer” tactic within the Lirurubele faction.

“You see Ntate Mosisili has dismissed ministers perceived to be followers of Ntate Moleleki. But he also appointed new ministers who also from the same faction and promoted a deputy minister who was also perceived to be aligned to Ntate Moleleki,” he said.

“Even though it is his (Dr Mosisili) prerogative, the prime minister used the reshuffling in a smart move to react to controversy within the DC. Actually, the issue of reshuffling lies mostly with the issue of loyalty. He dismissed ministers he knew were not loyal to him and his government. The reshuffling absolutely cannot be attributed to performance or any professional indicators, but loyalty.”

Mr Peshoane was however quick to warn that Dr Mosisili’s move could also accelerate conflicts in the DC “because it does not give space for the party’s issues to be dialogued and resolved”.

“Rather, the move perpetrates an onslaught between the two warring factions.”

For Mr Moleleki to resuscitate, Mr Peshoane said “the only option” he had was to resign from the cabinet and pull out his faction from the coalition government “so that he leaves no doubt to his supporters that he is really determined to fight on.”

The Lesotho Non-Governmental Organisation’s Sekonyela Mapetja, on the other hand, said the Tuesday’s reshuffle was “obscured.”

“While we anticipate that a cabinet reshuffle should be based on performance, it looks like this one was meant to attain personal gain. It comes just around the same time the prime minister admitted there are divisions within his party,” he said.

“Looking at the reshuffle, you can notice that it was influenced by the divisions within his party because he has fired ministers in the Moleleki faction to dislodge the group. Obviously that’s what every politician in his position would do. But unfortunately that’s putting personal interests before national interests.”

Mr Mapetja emphasised the reshuffling was due to political differences within the DC, arguing “for instance he redeployed Mr Moleleki to the ministry that does not have a portfolio”.

“We want to see whether he will let him have full control over the departments of National Aids Commission (NAC) and Disaster Management Authority (DMA) which fall under the ministry.”

Mr Mapetja said the big question was whether Dr Mosisili’s move solved issues or it was escalating the squabble within the DC. On balance of power, he said, “I would say the prime minister has hained political mileage against Mr Moleleki.”

He said: “Ntate Mosisili is now waiting; once they (Lirurubele) budge he is ready to crush them. The DC youth league committee is probably the next victim if they budge. He can influence his constituencies to pass a vote of no confidence against the youth league committee which obviously sides with the deputy leader. This he will do not necessarily do with intention for the vote of no confidence to success, but just to shake the party’s foundations and keep frustrating Mr Moleleki faction.”

Other than budging, Mr Mapetja said Mr Moleleki’s faction was vulnerable “because his group is dependent on the opposition parties”. “That is how Lirurubele are cornered. It is even difficult for them to even resort to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to call for any disciplinary action against Ntate Mosisili,” he said.

Ntate Mosisili and his faction have played their game smarter in advance because even in the party’s recent leadership conference, they resolved not to call for a special conference which Mr Moleleki’s faction could use to instigate any disciplinary measures against Ntate Mosisili.”

For his part National University of Lesotho’s Professor Kopano Makoa indicated that other than the conflicts within the DC, the reshuffling was also done by Dr Mosisili to “avoid serious accusations of corruption allegations against his government.”

“For a long time, Ntate Mosisili’s government turned a blind eye on serious corruption allegations leveled against his government. This bothered the nation. This is the first reshuffling of this magnitude since the past 20 years they have been in government.”

The reshuffle, Professor Makoa said, could not have taken place had it not been “because of the pressure of the corruption allegations”.

“So in a way, the prime minister and his government have come to admit that they are indeed corrupt through this reshuffle. It is a strategy to save some ministers from the corruption accusations. This is how the prime minister reacts to the corruption allegations.”

Professor Makoa, however, begged to differ with the view Dr Mosisili made political mileage through the reshuffle arguing: “Like I said, he has added fuel to the fire. His opponents are going to want to retaliate soonest.”


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