Monyake launches scathing attack on ABC

Bongiwe Zihlangu

The Stadium Area constituency Member of Parliament (MP), Mophato Monyake, has quit the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) citing “poor decision-making at both government and party level” for his decision.
Mr Monyake, who was fired as Minister of Justice and Correctional Services three months ago, announced his resignation from the ABC this week, further indicating he would be an independent MP in the meantime.

His resignation effectively means he now joins the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) leader, Attorney Thulo Mahlakeng, on the cross-bench, as an independent MP under the banner of the Stadium Area constituency.
In a strongly-worded statement outlining his decision to leave the ABC, Mr Monyake has no kind words for his former party, particularly its leader and prime minister, Thomas Thabane.

“After much deliberation and consultation, I have reached the conclusion that I will serve my constituency and the national interests better if I left the ABC parliamentary caucus to become an independent MP,” he said.
In the statement, Mr Monyake bitterly complains about the leakage of confidential government information to the media, unceremonious dismissal of senior government officials by Dr Thabane and the ABC’s alleged failure to “address challenges facing Lesotho”.

He continues: “I am concerned about the decision-making at the highest levels of government, to the extent that I want to distance myself from such decision-making.

“Senior government officials, including myself, are fired from office through the media. I heard of my removal from office as a minister in the media three months before I was handed my letter of termination (of employment).
“I was not given fair treatment and protection by my party and I truly hope that my decision to leave will help protect other members of the ABC from getting the same treatment I received.”

Mr Monyake also alleges that ahead of the February by-election in the Thaba-Phechela constituency, a certain candidate he did not name, was enticed to run on the ABC ticket by being “promised the ministerial post I was holding at that time”.
“That candidate was shown the letter purportedly firing me from office months prior to me receiving the letter,” Mr Monyake said.

The MP again accuses the ABC’s Resource Group — a powerful outfit which allegedly decides who lands lucrative tenders and elite posts — of sabotaging his campaign to run for the deputy leadership post at the party’s elective conference held in February this year.
“I am also reliably informed that during the campaign for elections for the NEC (National Executive Committee) earlier this year, certain members of the Resource Group were showing the letter purporting to fire me from office to delegates.
“This was done with the sole purpose of dissuading them from voting for me for the position of deputy leader of the party.
“Other official documents were circulated to the media and ABC delegates by some members of the Resource Group, including one principal secretary, with the sole purpose of tarnishing my image.”
Mr Monyake also berated the ABC for its “lack of a clear platform for collective decision-making and consultation”, which he claimed rendered the party incapable of “holding promise for Basotho”.
“There is no collective decision-making and consultation in the ABC, as a political party, and neither are there feasible policies or programmes advanced by the party to address challenges facing Lesotho,” Monyake said.
“Unemployment is rising, as well as poor urban and town planning, to mention but a few and as a result, I feel that the ABC in government holds no promise for the nation.”

To further justify his resignation, Monyake, referred to an article authored by Khabele Matlosa, Director of Political-Affairs at the African Union and Victor Shale of the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA), chronicling floor-crossing incidences in Lesotho’s parliament from 1993 when the country returned to constitutional democracy, including the ABC leader’s own defection from the LCD to his newly-formed party in 2006.
“I quote the above article by Khabele Matlosa and Victor Shale to emphasise the fact that since 1993 when Lesotho returned to constitutional democracy, legislators have always enjoyed their constitutional freedom.
“This constitutional freedom has always been protected by the National Assembly”.

The MP explains his next course of action: “I now set myself on a campaign to improve the lives of our people by cooperating with all like-minded political formations in the short-term, whilst preparing a long-term political programme that will be ready for launching prior to the next general election (in 2017).”
However, the move taken by Mr Monyake is hardly new in Lesotho politics.

The Senkatana Social Democratic Party leader, Lehlohonolo Tšehlana in 2004 suffered a similar fate to that of Mr Monyake, when he was forced to resort to the cross-bench in the august house, when he was fired by the then ruling LCD, but retained his parliamentary seat.

For almost two years, Mr Tšehlana was an independent MP, until October 2006, when he crossed the floor with 17 other MPs to join Thabane, in his newly formed ABC.
Contacted on Monday for comment, Mr Tšehlana had nothing good to say about Mr Monyake.
According to Mr Tšehlana, Mr Monyake could never thrive as an independent MP because “he does not have the strength and charisma.
“Being an independent MP requires a lot of strength and charisma to get the necessary support from your constituency, the ability to ask crucial questions and argue issues,” Mr Tšehlana said.
“Can Monyake do that? I do not think so. He does not have it in him to retain even 20 percent of the votes he garnered in 2012, if he is looking to contest in 2017.”
Mr Tšehlana said his advice to Mr Monyake was for the MP to “save as much as possible because he’s not coming back to parliament”.
“He might as well start saving now and take his terminal benefits at the end of the life of the current parliament; he must not even think of campaigning in 2017,” Mr Tšehlana said.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Lekhetho Rakuoane on Monday told the Lesotho Times Mr Monyake’s decision to become an independent MP was “within his rights and certainly not in violation of neither the constitution nor the parliamentary standing orders”.
“Senkatana leader, Lehlohonolo Tšehlana, has done it before; he was expelled from the LCD and became an independent MP as he retained his seat despite the expulsion,” Advocate Rakuoane said. “Parliamentary laws allow for one to opt for the cross-bench.”

Meanwhile, Mr Monyake resignation comes hot on the heels of yet another defection by the party’s MP.
On Wednesday last week, the ABC MP for the Koro-Koro constituency, Thabiso Litšiba, defected to the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), led by former prime minister, Pakalitha Mosisili.

The two defections have since put the tripartite alliance in a quandary, as they whittled down the parliamentary seats of the ABC, LCD and BNP-led coalition administration to 60 — one short of the 61 required to form government.

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