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Mapesela pushes for Majoro’s ouster  

by Lesotho Times
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. . . demands secret ballot for no confidence motion

Bereng Mpaki

Mokhotlong legislator, Tefo Mapesela, is pushing for his no confidence motion against Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to be conducted via secret ballot.

Authoritative sources said if Mr Mapesela succeeds, that could spell doom for Dr Majoro as his party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), was by no means fully united behind him. Unlike Democratic Congress (DC) leader Mathibeli Mokhothu, who leads a largely united caucus, Dr Majoro has to contend with more “backstabbers” than allies in his ABC, a highly placed source said.

And even though Mr Mapesela’s no confidence motion is more about politicking than substantive issues, sources said Dr Majoro’s enemies might just as well cease it to try and frustrate him.

Authoritative sources claimed this week that there were many MPs who pretended to be Dr Majoro’s allies by day yet they were opposite at night.  There was no guarantee they would back him in a secret ballot.

Some like Moeketsi Phakisi have openly expressed their frustrations at not being appointed ministers despite being courted by the ABC’s ubiquitous factions in their struggles for power.

Mr Mapesela filed a motion of no confidence against Dr Majoro on 25 August 2021. The motion is expected to be tabled in parliament tomorrow when the House resumes sitting after the winter break.

But before the no confidence motion is tabled Mr Mapesela, who is the Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP) leader, wants National Assembly Speaker, Sephiri Motanyane, to first give parliamentarians a chance to deliberate and agree on the secret ballot issue.

Mr Mapesela filed a motion for the vote to be conducted by secret ballot on Tuesday.  It was seconded by Alliance of Democrats (AD) deputy chairperson, Kose Makoa, whose leader Monyane Moleleki was nominated by Mr Mapesela to replace Dr Majoro.

This is the second motion to be tabled against Dr Majoro since he assumed power on 20 May 2020. The first was filed by Alliance of Democrats (AD) legislator, Mooki Sello, in May this year.

In his notice of motion then, the Bobatsi constituency legislator wanted Mr Mapesela to replace Dr Majoro but the motion failed on procedural grounds.

Mr Makoa told the Lesotho Times that Speaker Motanyane had accepted the motion for a secret ballot.

However, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Advocate Fine Maema, said he was not even aware of the secret ballot motion.

Parliament returns from the winter break tomorrow. Its new session could be problematic for Dr Majoro as some of the premier’s supposedly close allies are seen not supporting him if a secret ballot is allowed.

“Any approval of the secret ballot voting by MP’s could spell the end for Dr Majoro’s administration as there are some of his loyalists who are prepared to vote against him but would not be brave enough to cast such votes openly,” a source said.

Another source said: “Those willing to vote against Dr Majoro are pushing for a secret ballot”.

Mr Mapesela was among the ABC MPs who pushed for Dr Majoro to replace former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in May last year. The ABC national executive committee (NEC)’s preferred candidate was party chairperson, Samuel Rapapa. However, with the spirited canvassing of Mr Mapesela, the matter was put to vote among the ABC MPs.  Dr Majoro then got the nod after polling 26 votes ahead of Mr Rapapa’s 18.

Mr Mapesela, who had served in various portfolios under Mr Thabane before being fired by the latter, was returned to cabinet as Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing minister by Dr Majoro.   His relation with the PM nonetheless went sour after he berated Dr Majoro in several media interviews, accusing the latter of being unfit for purpose. Mr Mapesela openly called for Dr Majoro to step down and allow the ABC’s then deputy leader, Nqosa Mahao, to take over and lead the party into next year’s elections.

That was before Professor Mahao quit the ABC to form his Basotho Action Party (BAP). It had been thought Mr Mapesela would move into the BAP with Prof Mahao but no sooner had that party been formed than the two fell out. Mr Mapesela opted to form his BPP.

Even though Mr Mapesela has not articulated any viable reasons for seeking Dr Majoro’s ouster, sources said his motion of no confidence could just become a rallying point for many of Dr Majoro’s enemies.

“If the vote is conducted openly, Majoro will win but if it goes to secret ballot, then he might face major problems. There are many MPs who feel they have not had their chance at the feeding trough and may want to try their luck with a new PM.  Others might just want to sabotage him. They (MPs) can potentially throw obstacles to Dr Majoro if they want to,” said an MP who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

“It is fallacious to believe that the ABC as it stands is wholly united behind Majoro. There will be many defectors in a secret ballot.”

Dr Majoro can also not count on the united support of allies. “A secret ballot is always tricky because MPs from other coalition parties do not have to follow their caucus orders,” the MP said.

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