THE four-party opposition alliance yesterday toppled Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government in a parliament no-confidence vote, ending the veteran politician’s nearly two-year second stint as premier.
Opposition lawmakers booted out the Dr Mosisili-led seven-party governing coalition with a rapturous yea which drowned out the opposition’s nay, with National Assembly Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai not needing to count the legislators for or against the no-confidence motion.
Dr Mosisili has three days after the passing of the no-confidence motion to either resign, or advise King Letsie III to dissolve parliament and call for elections.
Thereafter, the King would then decide – after seeking the advice of the Council of State – on whether it is prudent to dissolve parliament or to give the reins to a leader of a political party or coalition of political parties who commands the support of a majority of legislators.
The outgoing premier has on numerous occasions declared he would advise the King to dissolve parliament and call for elections if the opposition’s long mooted no-confidence motion succeeded.
Meanwhile, the opposition bloc, which consists of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho has proposed Machache constituency legislator and AD leader Monyane Moleleki as Dr Mosisili’s replacement.
The no-confidence motion put paid to the seven-party governing coalition’s tumultuous tenure which was formed after the 28 February 2015 general election resulted in a hung parliament.
Dr Mosisili’s Democratic Congress formed a coalition government with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) on 4 March 2015.
After replacing Lesotho’s first coalition government led by Thomas Thabane, Dr Mosisili had vowed not to make the “many blunders” that led to the collapse of the ABC leader’s administration.
Dr Thabane had fallen out with his then coalition partner, LCD leader Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, for allegedly not consulting him when making key decisions on governance. The feud eventually led to the coalition — which was formed after the 2012 polls and also included the BNP — to collapse and the holding of general elections two years earlier than originally scheduled.
Dr Mosisili had been Lesotho premier since 29 May 1998 in his first tenure and handed over the reins to the Dr Thabane-led alliance on 8 June 2012 after the DC had failed to win the requisite outright majority seats to remain in power.
However, infighting – especially in the DC – was the outgoing coalition’s undoing, with a faction led by then deputy leader, Mr Moleleki, eventually forming a splinter party AD which undercut the government’s numerical supremacy in the National Assembly.
A quarrel in the DC over a government vehicle fleet tender awarded to Bidvest Bank Limited intensified the ructions, with Mr Moleleki’s Lirurubele (butterflies) faction accusing some government ministers of impropriety in awarding it to the South African firm.
However, Dr Mosisili’s faction counter accused Mr Moleleki of having a stake in a company that unsuccessfully bid for the tender.
The internecine feud escalated after Mr Moleleki and DC National Executive Committee (NEC) members loyal to him announced on 10 November 2016 that the party had pulled out of the seven-party coalition and joined forces with the opposition bloc to oust the government last November.
However, Dr Mosisili did not take the challenge to his rule lying down, with the DC leader suspending Mr Moleleki and the nine NEC members whom he labelled as rebels.
After Mr Moleleki and the NEC members challenged the legality of their suspension, the High Court endorsed the premier’s decision. The court ruling gave Dr Mosisili carte blanche to finish off his vanquished political foes by extending their suspension in party activities for six years.
Thereafter, Mr Moleleki left the DC to form the AD, with the bulk of the party’s women’s and youth leagues following suit. The DC’s split’s deleterious effect on the outgoing government’s numerical supremacy became apparent last Friday when Mr Moleleki and 13 other AD legislators crossed the floor from the government’s side to the opposition.
On Monday, the emboldened opposition alliance refused to allow the tabling of the budget, arguing that the notice of motion for a no-confidence vote needed to be prioritised given that they had the support of 74 MPs in the 120-member National Assembly. Sixty-one seats are required to form government.
Yesterday’s no-confidence motion was moved by the AD’s Kolo constituency legislator Teboho Lehloenya who accused Dr Mosisili’s government of failing to live up to its promises to be reformist and uprooting corruption.
Mr Lehloenya said the outgoing seven-party government had failed to stimulate economic development by condoning corruption, “especially in the Bidvest deal”.
“The government failed to declare their assets as they had promised to do and their failed policies have thrown the country into economic stagnation,” he said.
“They also failed Basotho taxpayers by giving all their money to Bidvest fleet company at the expense of a local company which had won the tender.”
Mr Lehloenya accused former Finance minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla of impropriety in awarding the tender to Bidvest, saying she was then “rewarded” by being appointed Foreign Affairs minister by Dr Mosisili in a cabinet reshuffle last November.
Dr Khaketla has vehemently denied the allegations and filed a M6 million defamation lawsuit against her other accusers, AD youth league leader Thuso Litjobo and Secreatry-General Letuka Chafotsa.
“We have a list of all the corrupt activities that are being done by prominent people in this government,” Mr Lehloenya said.
“They are busy enriching themselves with the Bidvest money and it’s so disheartening to see the minister who was in charge of the Finance ministry being promoted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs instead of being relieved of her duties.”
He said it was “very sad” that the killers of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, had not been prosecuted despite government undertaking to do so.
The former LDF chief was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by soldiers who said they had come to arrest him over allegations of being the ringleader of soldiers plotting to overthrow the army leadership. However, the Mahao family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) commission of inquiry convened at Dr Mosisili’s request to probe the circumstances of his killing concluded that the mutiny allegations were “highly suspect”, while urging the government to investigate the incident.
Dr Mosisili announced last June that an investigation into the killing was underway. However, the Mahao family has accused the government of deliberately stalling the probe.
“It pains me deeply that no investigation was undertaken because Mahao was culturally my son,” Mr Lehloenya added.
Supporting the motion, ABC Mosalemane constituency legislator Sam Rapapa said Lesotho had regressed on governance indicators such as the Mo Ibrahim Index under Dr Mosisili’s watch.
The Mo Ibrahim Index is an annually published index that provides a statistical measure of governance performance in every African country.
However, DC legislator Mootsi Lehata opposed the motion by saying the opposition had also failed to hold the government to account for its alleged infractions.
“Where were you when all these thing you are alleging were happening? You are supposed to hold the government to account if anything goes wrong. I am therefore opposing this motion,” he said.
However, the motion was passed after the overwhelming majority of MPs supported it. Dr Mosisili did not attend yesterday’s sitting.