Mapesela files fresh no confidence motion 

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Bereng Mpaki

BASOTHO Patriotic Party (BPP) leader, Tefo Mapesela, yesterday filed a fresh no confidence motion against Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.

The motion was filed hours after the All Basotho Convention (ABC) had announced its withdrawal from the coalition government.

In his latest motion, Mr Mapesela proposed ABC leader, Nkaku Kabi, to replace Dr Majoro.

In his motion, Mr Mapesela stated that “this honourable house has no confidence in the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, which is led by the Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro, and this honourable house begs leave to urge His Majesty the King to appoint Honourable Nkaku Kabi, MP and the leader of ABC in the place of the Prime Minister”.

The motion was seconded by opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD) legislator, Kose Makoa.

Mr Mapesela was unreachable on his mobile phone to shed light on his latest motion. However, Mr Makoa confirmed that they had submitted the motion to the clerk of the National Assembly, Fine Maema, in the afternoon. The clerk is expected to refer it to the Speaker of the house, Sephiri Motanyane.

The speaker will then refer it to the house’s business committee to decide when it should be debated.

This is not the first time that Mr Mapesela has attempted to oust Dr Majoro.

Mr Mapesela first filed a no confidence motion in August 2021.  It was seconded by Mr Makoa. They proposed AD leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki to replace Dr Majoro. Mr Mapesela had followed it up with another motion for a secret ballot in September 2021.

On 10 September 2021, Mr Motanyane told MPs that although he had approved the no confidence motion against Dr Majoro, voting would not be through secret ballot as proposed by Mr Mapesela in the interests of “transparency” and “openness”.

Unhappy with Mr Motanyane’s decision, Messrs Mapesela and Makoa on 14 September 2021 petitioned the Constitutional Court for an order to allow MPs to vote secretly, arguing that it was their constitutional right to do so.

They argued that the no confidence motion should be determined via a secret ballot to allow parliamentarians to freely vote without fear of repercussions.

They accused Dr Majoro of using the national security agencies to “intimidate” his ABC MPs who were allegedly in support of the no confidence motion.

They also accused Dr Majoro of violating the constitution and failing to govern in a transparent manner.

Their application was first heard on 16 November 2021 by Justices Sakoane Sakoane (presiding judge), Molefi Makara and Polo Banyane.

In the 4 February 2022 judgement, Justice Sakoane said they had dismissed the application on the grounds that there was no law in Lesotho which provided for a secret parliamentary ballot.

Only when parliament had enacted laws to provide for secret ballots to govern its proceedings, would MPs be allowed to vote in secret. In the absence of such laws, Mr Motanyane could not be blamed for refusing to order a secret ballot, Justice Sakoane said.

The dismissal of the application paved the way for the no confidence motion to be debated and voted on without a secret ballot.

The motion was then slated to be debated on 18 February 2022. But on that day, Mr Mapesela somersaulted, saying he now needed more time to restrategise with his allies.

“This is a very serious motion that concerns the fate of the Prime Minister, and since I want to make sure that I floor him, I wish to temporarily withdraw it,” Mr Mapesela said on the day.

“I am not abandoning the motion. I will come back with it at a later stage. I want to ensure that my allies and I are in the strongest possible position for the motion to succeed. I don’t want him (Dr Majoro) to survive this motion,” he added.

Still, indications had been that the motion would not have succeeded.

All the main political parties had said they would not support any motion to topple the premier. More so with only a few months remaining before elections due anytime from September 2022.

Originally, the ABC and its main partner, the Democratic Congress (DC) came out in opposition of the motion. Other parties who opposed the motion were the Basotho Action Party (BAP) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC).

Without the support of the ABC (35 seats), DC (27 seats), BAP (10 seats) and MEC (seven seats), the no confidence motion was virtually dead in the water. ABC secretary-general Lebohang Hlaele had then said the ABC was united in opposition to the motion, dismissing it as “Mapesela’s thing”.

But Mr Mapesela’s attempts to oust Dr Majoro appear to have been given a new lease of life following yesterday’s announcement by ABC leader Kabi that the party — or at least its faction supporting him – had withdrawn from the government.

It is not clear how many MPs in the fractious ABC will support the motion. Those who will are likely to be joined by the AD, whose MPs yesterday supported the Kabi’s faction’s decision to jettison the coalition. Mr Moleleki and his entire national executive committee (NEC) also graced Mr Kabi’s rally last week in his Qeme constituency. At that rally, Mr Moleleki even pleaded with Dr Majoro to make way for Mr Kabi since the latter had been elected ABC leader.

The Kabi faction will also be counting on the support of the Mothetjoa Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

Mr Metsing is fugitive after fleeing the country last year to avoid standing trial on treason and murder charges. (See story on Page 5).

However, the Kabi camp has seemingly made overtures to his party to support them against Dr Majoro. It was revealed that the LCD had also been invited to the Qeme rally along with the AD and Mr Mapesela’s BPP. However, they were unable to attend due to Mr Metsing’s absence, ABC secretary general, Mr Hlaele, claimed.

It remains to be seen if the AD, LCD and BPP support will be enough to topple the government.

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