Mahao faction, opposition adamant on no confidence vote

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

AHEAD of the expected re-opening of parliament tomorrow, All Basotho Convention (ABC) chairperson, Samuel Rapapa, and opposition parties say there is no going back on the no confidence motion against ABC leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane.

Mr Rapapa, who is also the legislator for the Mosalemane constituency, belongs to the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led ABC faction which filed the motion against Dr Thabane shortly before parliament was adjourned in June 2019.

Mr Rapapa is the Mahao faction’s choice for caretaker prime minister in the event of a successful no confidence vote. He however, said they would not rush into tabling the motion as they first needed to push for an amendment of parliamentary Standing Order Number 111 to enable legislators to vote in secret on a no confidence motion against a sitting prime minister.

He said they would also push for a constitutional amendment to allow parliament to immediately elect a new prime minister upon a successful no confidence vote. In terms of existing laws, a premier who loses a no confidence vote has the choice of either resigning or advising the king to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.

“We would be stupid to chicken out of the motion of no confidence,” Mr Rapapa said, adding, “But government won’t be toppled on Friday (tomorrow) because there are still some processes that need to be done”.

“There are people from the government side who are ready to vote with us as they are also pissed off. But before the no confidence vote, we need to stop people from calling for fresh elections when they lose the vote. To do that we need to amend the constitution.

“We need to be strategic and not just take risks. We are going to take things slowly with Ntate Thabane. We will not rush him but the fact of the matter is that the day for that (no confidence) motion will come during this (parliamentary) session,” Mr Rapapa said.

Democratic Congress (DC) leader and official leader of the opposition in parliament, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said they would still vote against Dr Thabane when the motion is finally tabled.

“We know the motion won’t be dealt with on Friday but we remain unshaken. We will still be 100 percent in favour of the motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when the time for the motion to be tabled comes.

“We believe that there are people on the government side who would feel safe enough to vote with us and they will support amendments (to parliamentary standing orders) to enable voting to be done in secret. But the DC, doesn’t have a problem with an open vote because we know what we want and we are not ashamed.

“We are not anticipating much activity on Friday when parliament reopens, because we know that the business of the opening day is usually a prayer.

“We expect that next week, we will be looking into other motions that came before the no confidence motion against the prime minister.

“We still have a motion calling for the amendment of the constitution (to stop an ousted prime minister from advising the king to call for fresh elections). However we are still very much for the motion of no confidence when its turn comes. We will be 100 percent in favour of the motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when the time comes,” said Mr Mokhothu.

His sentiments were echoed by Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL) leader, Limpho Tau, who said his party was eager to topple Dr Thabane.

“We can’t wait to vote for in favour of the no confidence motion. We don’t care whether it’s an open or secret vote, we just can’t wait to see Ntate Thabane going home to rest.

“We want to see the premier go because he has reached a stage where he is no longer effective,” Mr Tau said.

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, however, sang a different tune. Yesterday Mr Sekata said he would rather speak on other motions than comment on the no confidence motion “which might not even see the light of day”.

“I am not going to comment on the non-existent motion of no confidence. Instead, I know for sure that we still have a motion that was filed by Ntate Metsing calling for the amendment of the law (to allow parliament to immediately elect a new prime minister in the event of a successful no confidence vote). So let me not say anything about this no confidence commotion as we are not sure if it will ever see the light of day.

“We also have another urgent motion calling on the government to subsidise food prices because the nation is starving and there hasn’t been rain to boost farming” Mr Sekata said.

While other opposition parties have backed the no confidence motion, the LCD has offered to support Dr Thabane on condition he agrees to a power-sharing deal.

If Dr Thabane manages to win Mr Metsing’s support and all 11 LCD MPs vote against the no confidence motion, the premier could survive by a narrow margin of two votes. That is assuming that all the legislators backing Dr Thabane and all his coalition partners vote against the motion and all of Mr Metsing’s MPs comply.

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