…but premier downplays the danger, insisting the government is intact and his detractors failed when they were in power.
Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane, has publicly acknowledged there is trouble in his 18-month-old ruling party which the opposition was trying to exploit in a bid to remove him from power.
The RFP founder was, however, quick to downplay the possibility of the infighting spilling into government as he addressed hundreds of party supporters at a thunderous local government election campaign rally held in Quthing district on Sunday.
Mr Matekane told the supporters of his government’s enduring unity with the Ntoi Rapapa-led Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Selibe Mochoboroane’s Movement for Economic Change (MEC), and other smaller parties in the legislature that have pledged allegiance to his premiership.
Mr Matekane, who usually speaks for less than 10 minutes in such public gatherings, this time spoke for a good 15 minutes, insisting “no one can unseat your very intact government”.
He, however, warned that opposition parties making manoeuvres to unseat him were a deceptive bunch misleading RFP MPs using the party’s current internal squabbles as a ruse to assume government “despite failing when they were in power”.
Mr Matekane further warned that the opposition would use disgruntled RFP MPs as a means to an end, and ditch them in the middle of the river once they had crossed to the other side.
“Lately, we are often told of a falling government by those who don’t wish us well. But we were not elected by those people threatening to topple us. We were elected to office by you, and as long as you are still happy with us, we shall serve you. These people who want to topple us, it was only yesterday that they left office. But they are now taking advantage of the frustration in the party by using some of our own to help them get over the bridge,” Mr Matekane said as the crowd that had been ferried to the rally by buses and taxis, cheered.
“What do you think is going to happen to them after they have helped them? They are going to leave them right in the river (while they cross to the other side). We can’t have people who have been in government for decades and failed, tell us that we have failed when we have only been in government for five months. It shows there is something wrong. Your government is stable. No child can shake it.”
In a voice that reverberated across the vast open space where RFP tents were pitched while scores of cadres clad in their purple, white and green party garb, listened and roared back their support, Mr Matekane promised Basotho “good governance accompanied by plenty” and also touched on the decision by disgruntled RFP members to take their cases to court.
“If we see that our issues are not going according to plan amongst us, the courts of law are not a solution, not at all! I therefore plead with you that if there are any cases before court, you should withdraw them. Withdraw them! If there are issues that need to be addressed, let that be done internally,” Mr Matekane said.
The premier confidently told the crowd that it was already evident from the Block Farming initiative jointly being undertaken by the government and farmers, that in the next two years, no Mosotho would go to bed on an empty stomach.
Mr Matekane also said it was common knowledge that when he assumed office after the October 2022 general elections, his government was met with a host of challenges created by previous administrations, which hampered its performance.
He however, said in the time his coalition has been in office, it had achieved important milestones which he, however, did not mention by name, save for the Block Farming enterprise. The premier also said due to financial constraints which was a legacy left by the previous government, he was compelled to downsize his cabinet from 26 to just 15 ministers, himself included, a decision which he said “seems to have pained many”.
“We didn’t have a choice given the financial constraints we are in, and we are satisfied with the size we attained. As for those ill-wishers, let them go wherever they want to go to. Let them go!” Mr Matekane said.
He further said he had heard that after a case was lodged in court challenging last month’s recall for a special sitting of parliament aimed at passing some constitutional reform bills, the same petitioners were now lobbying constituencies not to vote for the RFP in the upcoming local government elections.
“They are busy lobbying the electorate not to vote, telling them that the government is crumbling…whose government?” Mr Matekane asked cynically.
“You have your candidates who are Members of Parliament and some ministers; they are there because you voted for them and there is nothing in parliament that can be done without your consent. Just trust them and they shall remain loyal to you, and you will see when things start to happen.”