Metsing chickens out

MASERU — A motion by opposition political leaders to pass a no confidence vote against Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili collapsed in spectacular fashion in parliament yesterday.

This was after the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing, who had been nominated to replace Mosisili, chickened out at the 11th hour.

The motion also reportedly contravened some sections of the constitution.

The motion was submitted to National Assembly speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai on Tuesday and was scheduled to be debated this afternoon.

Metsing is said to have somersaulted at the last minute and yesterday wrote a letter to Motsamai informing her that he wished to have his name “withdrawn or deleted from that motion”.

“I have seen a copy of a motion of no confidence in the government of Lesotho which purports to nominate me as the new head of government,” Metsing says in the letter.

“I submit that my name should be deleted or withdrawn from that motion as I was not consulted by the movers of the motion.”

But opposition leaders who proposed the motion told the Lesotho Times yesterday that they had “consulted thoroughly” with Metsing and were looking forward to the motion being debated in parliament today.

Last night the leader of the All Basotho Convention Thomas Thabane said he was disappointed that Metsing did not have the courtesy to tell them that he was no longer part of the plan.

He described Metsing’s allegation that he was not consulted as false.

However, Metsing’s letter was not the only factor that led parliament to drop the motion.

After reading Metsing’s letter in the National Assembly yesterday afternoon, LCD deputy leader Lesao Lehohla, who is also chairman of parliament’s business committee, told a press briefing that the motion contravened some sections of Lesotho’s constitution.

According to Lehohla, the committee deliberated on the motion and consulted with Motsamai to ensure “that it was in order”.

He said it was during the consultations that they resolved that the motion was in fact “misguided” because the constitution states that a candidate nominated for premiership by the opposition should be a leader whose party “has majority in

“We had to consult with the authors of the motion to establish if Metsing was the leader of a party or at least a coalition of parties to be nominated as prime minister,” Lehohla said.

“We ascertained that Metsing was not a leader of any political opposition party or a coalition of opposition parties, a fact which stripped the motion of credibility.”

The fact that Metsing also came to parliament to hand-deliver the letter declining his nomination to Motsamai also showed that the motion lacked credence, Lehohla said.

“He came here in person to deliver the letter in which as you can see, he clearly distances himself from the motion. He’s clear that he was never consulted,” he added.

Lehohla also revealed that on Tuesday after the news of the motion broke, he asked Metsing if he had given consent to be nominated but “he told me he knew nothing about it”.

“I had my suspicions when he said he did not know about the opposition’s intention to nominate him. But then he wrote this letter emphasising his stance,” Lehohla said.

“We’re a democratic country and the opposition leaders were just exercising their democratic rights,” Lehohla who is also the deputy prime minister said.

He said although the motion was mere political posturing by the opposition based on the factional fights in the LCD the ruling party still has to put its house in order.

“When you’re in an uncomfortable situation your rivals will capitalise on that. But then again, if you’re not cohesive and coherent as a political party, you’re playing with fire.”

Metsing could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print last night.

The attempt to remove Mosisili came at a time when the LCD is divided along factional lines.

Although the ruling party has been rocked by internal squabbles in the past the last two weeks have been quite turbulent.

Two weeks ago the party failed to hold a special conference after rival factions clashed over the nomination of delegates.

A day later Mosisili addressed an impromptu rally at which he lashed out at the national executive and credentials committee for bungling the special conference.

Two days later Mosisili fired three ministers who are also members of the executive committee.

Metsing, the party’s secretary general, was fired as communications minister.

Motleheloa Phooko, the LCD’s public relations officer, was relieved of his duties as minister in the prime minister’s office.

Khotso Matla, the editor of the party’s newspaper Mololi, was dismissed as deputy trade minister.

Mosisili did not explain why he fired the ministers but observers pointed out that it had something to do with the fights within the party.

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