I have no ministerial ambitions: Metsing

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing has reiterated his call for a government of national unity (GNU) to lead the country in the implementation of the multi-sector reforms process that are seen as crucial to transforming the country’s political and economic fortunes.

The former deputy premier said he has had his time in government and he has no interest in becoming a minister in the proposed GNU. He said he only supported a GNU because recent history has shown that holding snap elections is not the best way to resolve Lesotho’s governance challenges.

He said this while addressing party supporters at a weekend rally in Taung, Mohale’s Hoek.

The LCD is one of the parties that is involved in the processes that are expected to culminate in the implementation of the constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.

Last year, SADC leaders gave Lesotho until May 2019 to have fully implemented the constitutional and security sector reforms but the deadline has been missed.

The reforms process has been delayed largely as a result of the bickering between the government and the opposition which for a long time refused to participate until the government meet their preconditions including the establishment of a GNU, a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) as well as the release of the likes of murder-accused former army commander, Lieutenant General, Tlali Kamoli.

And in his Sunday address to LCD supporters, Mr Metsing repeated his demands for a GNU, saying it was the only institution that could bring peace and stability to Lesotho.

“It’s been 50 years since Lesotho gained its independence and still we are among the least developed countries that depend on foreign aid,” Mr Metsing told party supporters.

“Most youths are unemployed, people go to bed hungry and it’s all because of political instability.

“We accept the fact that the government has flaws but we are calling for less costly ways of fixing the problems. Calling for fresh elections is not one of those less costly ways of fixing our problems.

“We are appealing to the government to hear us out and engage us in talks on a GNU. Then they’ll have our support against the motion of no confidence. But if they don’t engage us we shall have no option but to support the motion.

“We think there are better ways to address the no confidence motion against the government than going for elections. We believe that a government of national unity can help implement the reforms without any risks of getting it wrong,” said Metsing.

“We have been talking about the GNU for a long time and we are glad that some of our colleagues in politics have started to embrace the idea. There are others who are against it but we would really appreciate if we were respected for our views.”

Mr Metsing’s remarks came against the background of widespread rumours that he, All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader and Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki had hammered a deal to form a new coalition in the event that an ABC faction led by Professor Nqosa Mahao succeeded with its no confidence vote against the government.

There is even a document allegedly crafted by the three parties, purporting to outline the agreement among them to retain Dr Thabane and Mr Moleleki as premier and deputy premier. Mr Metsing, a fierce rival of Dr Thabane, who has even alleged an assassination plot against him, is also co-opted into the mooted power sharing deal as second deputy premier.

The ‘document’ also purports to outline the allocation of ministries to the coalition parties which do not include the ABC’s traditional ally, the Basotho National Party (BNP).

According to the document titled, Draft Corporation Agreement for the formation of the 4th Coalition for inclusive administration entered into between ABC, AD and LCD, Dr Thabane comes in as prime minister and leader of coalition, Mr Moleleki as the first Deputy Prime Minister responsible for parliamentary affairs, economy and the social sector and Mr Metsing as second Deputy Prime Minister (responsible for security sector, reforms and stakeholder management).

The ABC will have 15 ministers and seven deputy ministers, the AD will get six ministers and two deputies and the LCD will also get six ministers and two deputies.

If the LCD and the AD throw in their lot with Dr Thabane, then the premier will survive a no confidence vote even if the rest of the opposition vote on the side of the Prof Mahao-led faction of the ABC.

The Mahao faction appears to enjoy the support of at least 20 legislators who appended their signature to the March 2019 petition calling on Dr Thabane to intervene and resolve the ABC power struggle in favour of the new NEC.

If all opposition parties excluding the LCD vote in favour of the no confidence motion, alongside these 20 pro-Mahao ABC MPs, the no confidence motion will not succeed as it can only have a maximum of 59 votes out of 120.

The main opposition DC party, whose deputy leader Motlalentoa Letsosa seconded the no confidence motion a fortnight ago, has 26 MPs and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) has six seats. The Popular Front for Democracy has three seats while four other opposition parties have one each.  This brings the total to 59. On the other hand, there are 33 ABC legislators who could all be pro-Thabane. The AD has 11 seats, the BNP has five and the other current coalition partner, the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) has one.

If the LCD’s 11 seats are added to these then the no confidence motion will be narrowly defeated by 61 votes to 59. Such a scenario would facilitate the Thabane-Moleleki-Metsing coalition deal. There are however, no guarantees that Dr Thabane enjoys the support of the 33 ABC legislators. It is also not guaranteed that current coalition partners, the BNP and RCL would support a deal which excludes them from the new power-sharing arrangement to accommodate the LCD.

The three parties have rubbished the claims of the powers-sharing deal, saying it is mere propaganda by their political rivals.

But Mr Metsing insisted that while he was prepared to save Dr Thabane from being toppled on condition he agreed to a GNU, he was however, not in it for the sake of a cabinet post. He said he had his time in government and would not take up a cabinet post if offered one in the envisaged GNU.

“I don’t advocate a GNU because I want to benefit from it as an individual. I’m only advocating for it because it is the right thing to have for the common good of every Mosotho.

“Even if it happens and the LCD is given two ministerial posts, I want people to know that I am not interested in being one of those ministers. I will remain a legislator and leader of LCD. I have no interest in being a minister and this is not about me.”

The GNU has however, been opposed by the DC whose leader Mothibeli Mokhothu says it would only serve to rescue Dr Thabane whose political fortunes are in decline. (See story above).

 

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