PRIME Minister-elect Pakalitha Mosisili says the past two years he was in the opposition afforded him the chance to learn from the “many” blunders which were being made by the coalition government led by All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane.
Dr Mosisili was elected premier on Wednesday last week by a coalition of seven parties, namely his Democratic Congress (DC), 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).
The nomination followed the announcement of the results of the 28 February 2015 general elections which once again produced a hung parliament, and effectively ended Lesotho’s first coalition government.
The DC won 47 of the 120 parliamentary seats on offer, while the ABC clinched 46. Since none of the 23 contesting parties won the minimum 61 seats needed to form government on its own, the “Congress movement” banded together and formed government.
In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Dr Mosisili said he had watched “closely” the operations of the Dr Thabane-led coalition government during the 33 months he was in the opposition, and was taking note of the “many blunders” being made in order not to repeat the same mistakes once he reclaimed the throne he surrendered in June 2012.
Dr Mosisili had been Lesotho premier since 29 May 1998 when he handed over the reins to an ABC, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) alliance on 8 June 2012 after the DC had failed to win the requisite outright majority seats to remain in power.
However, persistent squabbling over Dr Thabane’s leadership style led to the collapse of the alliance and a Southern African Development Community-brokered snap election on 28 February, which returned Dr Mosisili to power.
According to the DC leader, he would not allow his coalition government to collapse before completing its five-year term because of lessons learnt from Dr Thabane.
“First of all, I have learnt from the many governance blunders made by our first coalition government and promise not to follow that route,” said Dr Mosisili.
“Basotho should be confident that during my tenure, principles which make a coalition government work will be respected by all the seven parties in the alliance.
“I believe that trust and respect are core elements to building a stable coalition government. I am proud and glad to assure Basotho that this time, the coalition is going to be a success.”
Dr Mosisili added all the partners in the coalition understood they needed each other for them to remain as the majority in parliament, adding they would not antagonise each other unlike the outgoing government.
“In as much as we would be expected to obey the constitution and rule of law in this country, as partners, we should abide by our coalition agreements and not consider them as mere pieces of paper,” said the 69-year-old former university lecturer.
“We should embody the saying ‘Mahata ‘moho’ which simply means people who get along in unity.”
On the security situation in the country, Dr Mosisili said stabilising the National Security Service, Lesotho Correctional Service, Lesotho Defence Force and Lesotho Mounted Police Service would be a major priority for his government.
“Stability within the security institutions should be treated as an urgent matter immediately after our coalition of seven parties takes over government (on 17 March 2015 when he is sworn in a premier),” he said.
“We will also not overlook the fact that our public service needs assistance to become more independent and professional. Politicians come and go but the public service serves the nation.
“Under my watch, all the coalition partners will work together towards ensuring the public service remains apolitical.”
Asked what his government would do to combat corruption, Dr Mosisili said no leader could be proud of leading an immoral government, assuring Basotho the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) would continue with its mandate to nip the vice in the bud.
“The DCEO will continue with its mandate to eliminate corruption in our society,” he said.
Dr Mosisili vowed to ensure the anticorruption body remained autonomous and adequately equipped for it to be effective.
He also revealed discussions are underway on the new cabinet which is expected to be sworn-in on Thursday next week.
“The process of hiring cabinet members is not yet complete and the outcome will definitely be made known to the nation as soon as it is completed,” said Dr Mosisili.