party unhappy with Prime Minister’s ‘unilateral’ decisions
By Billy Ntaote
MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is demanding an urgent meeting with its two partners in government, namely the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP), to iron out “misunderstandings” regarding critical policy decisions being “unilaterally” taken by Prime Minister and ABC leader Dr Thomas Thabane.
According to the party’s Deputy Secretary General, Mr Tšeliso Mokhosi, the Prime Minister should understand “the principles of this coalition government”, which he said called for consultation with leaders of the other parties — Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane of the BNP and Mr Mothetjoa Metsing of the LCD — on all key decisions affecting government.
Mr Mokhosi, who is also the Minister of Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs, emphasised the LCD was not threatening the coalition but merely seeking to point out the “collective responsibility” of all the three parties constituting the government.
The Minister also dismissed “rumours” that the LCD was not happy with Dr Thabane’s leadership, and is now considering forming an alliance with the Democratic Congress (DC) led by former Prime Minister Dr Pakalitha Mosisili.
Prior to forming the DC three months before the May 26, 2012 general election, Dr Mosisili was leader of the LCD.
“The LCD is not threatening the Prime Minister in any way, but simply demanding that we should be consulted whenever key government decisions are being made. We never threatened to abandon the coalition, as a party; we just want him to honour our coalition agreement and abide by it and stop undermining its stipulations.
“The fact is, decisions of the coalition government should be joint-decisions and not unilateral resolutions by Ntate Thabane because he doesn’t have the powers to do so without consulting Ntate Metsing and Ntate ‘Maseribane, as his partners. He should understand the principles of the coalition government, especially on major decision-making,” Mr Mokhosi on Monday told the Lesotho Times.
The Minister further said the LCD National Executive Committee had since decided to write a letter to Dr Thabane requesting a meeting of all the government partners, particularly following the recent sacking of Government Secretary, Mr Motlatsi Ramafole.
“It is because on this issue of Ramafole, we had never been informed that he was not working well with the Prime Minister. In-fact, we had always thought they were working well together. That is why we would want to talk, as partners, about how decisions should be carried out on issues of importance that affect us as a government.”
However, Mr Mokhosi said he was not sure whether the letter had already been submitted to Dr Thabane, as he was “currently out of the country on an official trip”.
Contacted for comment, the ABC chairperson, Mr Motlohi Maliehe said he was not the best person to respond, and referred the Lesotho Times to the party’s Secretary General.
However, attempts to get in contact with the Secretary General, Mr Samonyane Ntsekele, were fruitless as his mobile phone kept ringing last night without being answered.
Asked about the alleged strained relationship between the coalition partners, BNP leader, Chief ‘Maseribane said nothing could be further from the truth.
“Basotho had high expectations when this coalition was formed; many thought it would just be smooth-sailing without any storms.
“Our partnership with the ABC and LCD has its own ups and downs like any other relationship, but this should not be mistaken to indicate it is about to collapse.
“On the other hand, the media should not fall prey to being abused by the opposition, which is always peddling its own propaganda regarding the stability of the coalition government,” Chief ‘Maseribane, who is also the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, said.
“In every marriage, there is always a time for the renewal of vows. But if the expectation Basotho had was that this was going to be plain-sailing, they were wrong. In other countries, we have seen coalition governments not surviving for as long as ours has survived, which is why we are proud that our coalition has stood the test of time and we have just passed our second national budget.”
The Minister emphasised in a partnership such as the current BNP, ABC and LCD alliance, differences should also be expected.
“We cannot only be expected to talk and relate as though we are on a honeymoon; it is impossible.
“We should expect to meet challenges and how we approach these difficulties is what strengthens us as a coalition. Even where there is one-party rule, there are always challenges for the ruling party, so what more where there are three political parties?”
“Actually, we have made history as we are the first coalition government for Lesotho. So who is this fourth person who always comes up with claims that our relations are strained and we face collapse? These are all fictitious allegations,” he said.
Asked if he was aware of the LCD letter to Thabane, the Minister said: “The only LCD letter I know was about Phase Two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
“But that Phase II issue has since been resolved and it was never a secret as we sat down as coalition partners, and resolved whatever differences we had,” he said.
Chief ‘Maseribane also asked why there was “such a fuss” over the dismissal of former Government Secretary, Mr Ramafole, adding the coalition government was becoming stronger with each passing day, despite claims to the contrary by detractors.
“To show there is renewal of vows between us as coalition government partners, we will be launching a Monitoring Committee that will monitor how our coalition is performing. That’s a sign we are working well as a coalition government.”