Malema’s EFF demands resignation of “criminal” Thabane

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Ntsebeng Motsoeli

SOUTH Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has called for the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, describing him as a “criminal” and “incompetent”.

The Julius Malema-led party is particularly unhappy with Mr Thabane for proroguing parliament, attempting to suspend Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli and deploying the army on the streets of Maseru on Saturday 18th April 2020.

South African President and SADC facilitator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa deployed his envoy, Jeff Radebe, to Lesotho on Sunday to diffuse the crisis stemming from Mr Thabane’s actions. After consultations with Mr Thabane’s own All Basotho Convention (ABC), governing coalition partners, the opposition and other stakeholders, Mr Radebe subsequently penned a deal with Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki that parliament would begin processes to ensure the premier retired with “dignity, grace and security”. It was also announced that parliament must start the processes leading to Mr Thabane’s departure within three days of its opening.

However, the EFF is against any long-drawn out processes and wants Mr Thabane to step down with immediate effect.

But judging by the premier’s belligerent remarks in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week , Mr Thabane is not contemplating leaving soon even though President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is said to want to see his back soonest to enable the country to move forward.

The EFF insists Mr Thabane must go now.

“The EFF calls for the immediate resignation of the incompetent and criminal Prime Minister of Lesotho Tom Thabane,” the EFF said in a statement this week.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the unconstitutional deployment of the army and roll out of a lockdown by Thabane as a narrow and self-seeking attempt to avoid accountability.

The EFF also accused Mr Thabane of hiding behind the coronavirus (COVID – 19) pandemic to deploy the army and unconstitutionally prorogue parliament to dodge criminal charges and mounting calls for his resignation.

Mr Thabane is in court for the 14 June 2017 murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane.  He has asked the Constitutional Court to quash the charges, claiming immunity as a sitting prime minister.  His current wife, First Lady, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, has already been charged with the murder and is out on M1000 bail.

But according to the EFF, “Thabane must not be allowed to use the COVID – 19 pandemic to avoid his criminal charges and mounting calls for him to step down”.

“To enforce martial law and practice constitutional delinquency under the guise of combating COVID -19 is shameful and he (Mr Thabane) must be exposed for his hopeless attempts to avoid accountability.

“This suspension (of parliament) was not only done without consultation… He has done this under the guise of combating COVID – 19, including the deployment of the army onto the streets of Lesotho.

“Thabane fails to appreciate that parliamentarians play a critical role in the fight against the coronavirus, namely oversight, providing aid and ensuring that all aid is provided equally to citizens…

“To close parliament for three months without consulting all portfolios that comprise the parliament of Lesotho and providing a clear way forward is foolishness that places the livelihoods of the people of Lesotho at risk.

“Efforts to combat COVID – 19 in Lesotho must be coordinated by parliament as a collective to ensure the protection of the lives of the people of Lesotho. Such efforts cannot be led by self-seeking individuals such as Thabane who abuse the rule of law and misuse a global pandemic to avoid accountability,” the EFF said.

A Friday Constitutional Court judgement declared Mr Thabane’s prorogation of parliament from 20 March 2020 to 19 June 2020 illegal. The court said parliament must be -re-opened immediately. The senate opened on Tuesday but the National Assembly is yet to comply with the ruling.

 

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