- outspoken Mokhotlong MP brands him the “worst-ever prime minister,”
- blames him for ruinous policies amid a Covid-induced economic crisis.
OUTSPOKEN former cabinet minister Tefo Mapesela has renewed his attacks on Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, calling him “Lesotho’s worst ever prime minister”.
The Mokhotlong legislator, who dumped the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) to form the Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP) this April, said he could not fathom why Dr Majoro’s government approved fuel allowances for members of the National Assembly and Senate in the midst of the Covid-19 induced economic meltdown. Mr Mapesela accused Dr Majoro of other ruinous decisions including increasing salaries of cabinet ministers and destabilising the civil service by wantonly reshuffling principal secretaries.
The country’s lawmakers began receiving monthly tax-free fuel allowances of M5000 each at the end of last month.
The new fuel windfall was backdated to the start of the current 2021/22 financial year on 1 April 2021.
This means that each of them pocketed M75 000 for the five months from April to July 2021.
The government went ahead with the payments despite an outcry from some of the opposition legislators and the public who argued that the allowances were ill-conceived especially as the country had more pressing problems like the Covid-19 pandemic to deal with.
MPs who argued in favour of the allowances said they needed them to travel to hard-to-reach areas in their constituencies.
Mr Mapesela served under Dr Majoro as Agriculture and Food Security minister from the formation of the current government in May 2020 until their fallout this April. The BPP leader is one of the opposition legislators who have opposed the awarding of the fuel allowances.
Addressing a weekend rally in Matsieng, the combative legislator called out National Security Service (NSS) agents and told them to tell Dr Majoro that he was the worst prime minister Lesotho has ever had.
He accused the premier of deploying unscrupulous individuals to Lesotho’s foreign missions who ended up abusing their diplomatic privileges to illegally purchase alcohol for resale. This was in reference to the recent scandal which saw South Africa expel several Lesotho diplomats for illegally trading in alcohol.
“I see there are NSS agents here, go and tell your father that Mapesela said he wants him ousted because he does not have the qualities to be the prime minister,” Mr Mapesela said.
“I want him ousted. He is the worst ever prime minister I have seen in this country. He may be a PhD holder but he is the worst bastard in this country. Tell him I said so. I am sending you NSS agents since you are the government’s lapdogs.”
Mr Mapesela repeated his attacks in a radio interview this week. He said despite boasting a PHD in economics, Dr Majoro had failed to use his knowledge to take the country forward.
He said although he had the right to reshuffle principal secretaries, this power should not be abused to reshuffle them for no good reason. This was in reference to last week’s reshuffling of six principal secretaries.
Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, said the reshuffle was done in terms of the constitution which empowers the prime minister to appoint principal secretaries and reshuffle them as well.
“The reshuffle was not in any way politically motivated but meant to strengthen services at the respective ministries,” Mr Moseme said last week.
However, Mr Mapesela said reshuffles should not just be for the sake of it.
“A prime minister should not just do as pleases and reshuffle principal secretaries just because he has the prerogative to do so,” Mr Mapesela said.
He also slammed Dr Majoro for reversing his predecessor Thomas Thabane’s decision to slash ministers’ salaries by five percent.
“Ntate Thabane’s cabinet made a decision to cut ministers’ salaries by five percent. But when Ntate Majoro took over, he increased the ministers’ salaries by M5000. Under his leadership, parliamentarians were also awarded M5000 (fuel allowances each).
“I was a minister at that time and I don’t remember any ABC caucus meeting to discuss the M5000 increments. I was surprised when the deputy prime minister (Mathibeli Mokhothu) tabled the proposal in parliament.
“One cannot increase ministers’ salaries and give parliamentarians M5000 each in the midst of the Coronavirus-induced economic meltdown,” Mr Mapesela said.
He also criticised Dr Majoro’s decision to appoint the Qacha’s Nek MP, Pontšo Sekatle, as Lesotho’s ambassador to Belgium and the European Union in February this year.
“I was also shocked when he took Mme Sekatle from the Qacha people…He (Majoro) is the first prime minister in Lesotho’s history to redeploy an elected MP from the National Assembly to an embassy post.
“How do you deploy an MP to the embassies when there are many Basotho who can be appointed to that position? The Majoro administration also redeployed (Lesotho Revenue Authority) LRA boss (Thabo Khasipe) to NACOSEC when there were many unemployed Basotho who could have been appointed.
“He gave then LNDC boss (Mohato Seleke) two jobs at the same time both at LNDC and LEC. How does one give one person two jobs where there are many unemployed Basotho? This is why I am saying Ntate Majoro is not working well with Basotho. Even if he has the prerogative to appoint, the appointments mustn’t be done as though one lives in an island.”
Mr Mapesela said he now regretted being one of the legislators who had pushed for Dr Majoro to replace Mr Thabane when the latter was forced out by his own ABC party last May.
“With all due respect and humility, I was part of the group that suggested that we give him (Majoro) a chance. At that time, he was doing well as finance minister and we thought he could be a better prime minister. But right now, he is the worst ever prime minister I have ever known in the history of this country,” he said.
Mr Mapesela was among ABC MPs who voted for Dr Majoro to replace Mr Thabane. The ABC’s national executive committee (NEC)’s preferred candidate was party chairperson, Samuel Rapapa. The matter was put to vote and Dr Majoro got the nod after polling 26 votes to Mr Rapapa’s 18.
Mr Mapesela, who had also served in various portfolios under Mr Thabane, was appointed agriculture minister in the Majoro government. He was dismissed in April after publicly imploring Dr Majoro to finish his term and allow then ABC deputy leader, Nqosa Mahao, to take over and lead the party into next year’s elections.
A week after Mr Mapesela’s dismissal Prof Mahao was also fired from his post as Justice and Law minister. This after he had dumped the ABC to form his own Basotho Action Party (BAP). He also accused Dr Majoro and ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, of teaming up with Mr Thabane to plot his ouster from the ABC.
After their departures from the ABC and their dismissals from cabinet, Prof Mahao and Mr Mapesela fell out and each formed his own party.
Meanwhile, Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, said they decided not to react to Mr Mapesela’s utterances.