Elections the only way: Likoti
LEGISLATORS from the four-party opposition alliance yesterday succeeded in the no-confidence vote against the governing coalition, effectively bringing to an end Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s nearly two-year old administration.
Dr Mosisili’s reign was short circuited by a split in his Democratic Congress (DC), after his erstwhile deputy Monyane Moleleki jumped ship to form the Alliance of Democrats (AD) last December after failing to wrest the party from the premier.
Prior to leaving the DC, Mr Moleleki inked a coalition pact with the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho in which he would lead the opposition alliance for the first 18 months once they form government.
Mr Moleleki sealed Dr Mosisili’s fate during the opening of parliament last Friday when he and 13 other former DC legislators crossed the floor from the government’s side and joined the opposition making the seven-party coalition a minority government.
In this interview, Lesotho Times (LT) reporter, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, speaks with Dr Mosisili’s Economic and Political Advisor Dr Fako Likoti on these developments.
LT: What is the position of the government following its loss of a no-confidence vote in parliament?
Likoti: The prime minister has three choices which are resigning, advising the King to dissolve parliament and call for elections or the choice of keeping quiet. And then the King will go to the Council of State, of which the prime minister is the key figure. They will go for dissolution of parliament or something else. The King might fire the prime minister and appoint a person who has been suggested by the motion as the prime minister. But all these things will happen if the prime minister fails to resign or advise the King to dissolve parliament.
LT: The opposition has said elections are not necessary because there is no money. What’s your take on that?
Likoti: When you adopt a certain system, you are actually saying you are going to embrace all its consequences. In a democracy, one of the key features is elections, meaning that you can go to elections three times a year if need be. One reason that is accepted worldwide for not going for elections is a condition of war; either a civil war or a war with another country. But that does not pertain to Lesotho. So there is no reason why Lesotho cannot go for elections. You can’t claim that you don’t have money yet you have adopted a system that demands money. Democracy means elections. The government cannot say it does not have money for elections. There is money. The government is ready for elections. Secondly, there is a belief system for political parties in parliament, particularly the congress parties. The government is led by the congress movement. All parties that ascribe to the congress ideology are parties that ascribe to people’s participation. For them the most important thing is people’s participation. So when anything significant happens, they run to the people for consultations. When anything happens in parliament and in government, a congress party will take the democratic route of seeking a new mandate.
LT: The opposition has already signed an agreement to form a coalition government. What is your take on that?
Likoti: This thing that we are seeing and hearing about leaders exchanging terms as prime ministers is so bizarre. People have turned Lesotho into a laughing stock. It’s like a game of dice, one takes his share and the other comes and takes his own. They play dices with the nation. I am told that when bank robbers share money, they don’t normally count because the heist takes place in a rush. The opposition wants to rob Basotho. This is really laughable where one promises to take 18 months as the prime minister and then the next one comes and takes the other 18 months. It’s like we don’t understand anything about democracy. We have to go for elections because we believe that what happened in parliament means we have to seek a new mandate. We have seen what happened to the past coalition government, we don’t want that to happen again. We don’t want to be reminded of atrocities that happened in this country in 1970. The best thing that we have to do is call for elections and nothing else.
LT: The opposition successfully blocked the budget speech on Monday on the grounds that government had lost numbers. Where does this leave the government?
Likoti: How dare do they call themselves a political party and then block people’s development! The budget is for the people’s development. What kind of political party blocks the people’s development! I think it is for the people to judge. Their (opposition) perception is ill-advised. By the way, the budget is not a major factor because the Minister of Finance could still have used the money for the next three months until the budget is passed. They (opposition) are so desperate to block even their salaries just to get power without seeking a mandate from the people. Why can’t they go for elections so that they are elected accordingly?
LT: The government was in the process of undertaking reforms. How has the latest developments affected that process?
Likoti: One thing that I want to put forward to the public is that Ntate Mosisili is here. He and his coalition partners are ready to go back to the people and seek a new mandate from Basotho anytime. The reason why these people passed a motion of no confidence is because they are afraid of reforms. They want this country to be stagnant. They don’t want progress. They want this country to remain still because the reforms are so holistic and overarching. Our constitution is old and outdated. It needs to be re-written. Even the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has noted that our problems emanate from the constitution. So instead of dealing with reforms, they ran to a vote of no confidence. Ntate Monyane Moleleki is even on record saying when they are in government they won’t go to elections for the next 10 years. What kind of democrats are these! Ntate Moleleki is completely undemocratic. He firstly tried to steal the DC and he was stopped by three judges. And now with Ntate (Thomas) Thabane and company, they connived to topple the government. They are running away from the reforms because with the reforms we are no longer going to have people behaving the way Ntate Moleleki and Ntate Thabane are behaving. These reforms are so crucial to put this country in a developmental path.
LT: As the congress parties, have you began conducting rallies to sensitise your supporters about the early elections yet?
Likoti: We have been running very successful rallies throughout the country ahead of elections and people are saying they are ready for elections. They are saying they cannot tolerate this anymore. Lesotho has been destabilised by these same people (opposition). And these are the people who have been going around saying Lesotho is unstable and yet they are mentally unstable themselves.