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Litigation has never fostered parties’ stability

by Lesotho Times
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This week two ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) legislators, Mahali Phamotse and Thuso Makhalanyane, approached the courts of law, seeking that their six-year suspension from their party be declared unlawful and nullified.

This development came after the outspoken duo was charged with failure to protect their party’s interests when they voted against the RFP-led government in the National Assembly on Tuesday last week. The move led to a disciplinary hearing on Saturday, which the two Members of Parliament (MPs) refused to participate in, culminating in their swift suspension on the same day.

Then on Tuesday this week, RFP spokesperson Mokhethi Shelile and the party’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kanono Ramashamole, convened a media briefing at the political outfit’s headquarters,

where they confirmed the suspension for a litany of reasons including their decision to vote against the party they represent in parliament.

According to Mr Shelile who doubles as the Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism, if Mr Makhalanyane

and Dr Phamotse were aggrieved by their suspension, they were at liberty to challenge the decision by lodging a complaint against the national executive committee, which appointed the disciplinary panel, at the RFP policy conference slated for next month.

However, the problem now is that Mr Makhalanyane and Dr Phamotse, have dragged the RFP to court seeking legal redress. They have lodged an urgent application challenging the decision for its extremity, unfairness, as well as deficiencies in the procedure followed leading to their suspension. They had, for instance, asked the RFP to provide them with evidence on which each charge was based, so they could use it to defend themselves, but decided not to

proceed with the disciplinary hearing when the disciplinary panel refused to provide the documents they had asked for.

The tragedy here is this is the third political lawsuit lodged against the party since its birth in March 2022. Firstly, it was theapplication seeking to compel the RFP leadership to allow Dr Phamotse, Lithoteng legislator Rethabile Letlailana and 14 others, to contest elections under the ruling party’s banner, having won primary elections in their respective constituencies. However, in line with its meritocracy policy, the RFP instead tried to nullify their election by imposing people who had lost elections but allegedly possessed qualities the party was looking for.

 

The RFP lost that case and Dr Phamotse and the others were eventually able to contest the elections.

But it would seem peace is elusive in the RFP. For almost a year after the party’s formation, Mr Makhalanyane, irked by the RFP leadership’s failure to adhere to their meritocracy policy and having, on several occasions accused it of corruption, joined forces with some of his parliament colleagues including Dr Phamotse, to demand that the party held an elective conference, to renew the mandate of the NEC which is, by nature interim. Allegedly Dr Phamotse wants to challenge Secretary-General Nthati Moorosi for the coveted post.

Since then, there has been commotion in the RFP, compelling founder and leader, Sam Matekane, to, on several occasions while addressing rallies, declare that there would not be NEC elections as he was not interested in such, and that his primary interest as prime minister, was for his government to focus on service delivery.

It is against this background that, perhaps, the RFP leadership should take a journey down political memory lane, for it is by so doing that they will be reminded of the fate of former ruling parties, namely the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Democratic Congress (DC) and the All Basotho Convention (ABC), all of which were left in tatters as a result of litigation. These parties are today breathing through the wound because of internal conflict that did not only adversely affected governance but also led to litigation and the subsequent collapse of their governments. These parties, while still in existence, have never been able to retain their former glory. So, if Mr Matekane is not careful and does not have wise political counsel around him (being a self-confessed political novice), he and his NEC will go about business as usual, ignoring the tell-tale signs that his own government is standing on a precipice. Again, he risks losing numbers in parliament by suspending these MPs, who just might opt to cross the floor to other more welcoming parties in the national assembly.

While last week’s 57 to 50 votes in parliament were acquired from the 107 MPs who were present when the vote was cast, the seven-vote margin is a sign that should Mr Matekane not find a solution to his party’s problems, he just might kiss the Qhobosheaneng Government Complex and State House goodbye, much sooner than he intends to. If the RFP thinks those MPs are rebels, then the party must know that instead of fighting fire with fire, diplomacy is a more prudent and virtuous option.

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