…but major political parties refuse to support Mapesela’s bid to oust PM
PARLIAMENT will tomorrow finally debate Mokhotlong legislator Tefo Mapesela’s much-delayed no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.
However, the premier is set to remain in office. This as major political parties, including his own All Basotho Convention (ABC), and the Democratic Congress (DC) have all indicated that they will oppose Mr Mapesela’s bid to oust him.
Mr Mapesela filed the no confidence motion in August 2021. It was seconded by Alliance of Democrats (AD) MP Kose Makoa. They proposed AD leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki to replace Dr Majoro. Mr Mapesela had followed it up with another motion for a secret ballot in September 2021.
On 10 September 2021, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Sephiri Motanyane, told parliamentarians that although he had approved the no confidence motion against Dr Majoro, voting would not be through secret ballot as proposed by Mr Mapesela in the interests of “transparency” and “openness”.
Dissatisfied with Mr Motanyane’s decision, Messrs Mapesela and Makoa on 14 September 2021 petitioned the Constitutional Court for an order to allow MPs to vote secretly, arguing that it was their constitutional right to do so.
Messrs Mapesela and Makoa argued that the no confidence motion should be determined via a secret ballot to allow parliamentarians to freely vote without fear of repercussions.
They accused Dr Majoro of using the national security agencies to “intimidate” his All Basotho Convention (ABC) MPs who were allegedly in support of the no confidence motion.
They also accused Dr Majoro of violating the constitution and failing to govern in a transparent manner.
Their application was first heard on 16 November 2021 by Justices Sakoane Sakoane (presiding judge), Molefi Makara and Polo Banyane.
In the 4 February 2022 judgement, Justice Sakoane said they had dismissed the application on the grounds that there was no law in Lesotho which provided for a secret parliamentary ballot.
Only when parliament had enacted laws to provide for secret ballots to govern its proceedings, would MPs be allowed to vote in secret. In the absence of such laws, Mr Motanyane could not be blamed for refusing to order a secret ballot, Justice Sakoane said.
The dismissal of the application paved the way for the no confidence motion to be debated and voted on without a secret ballot.
Yesterday, the National Assembly issued a notice indicating that the motion would be debated in parliament.
In terms of parliament’s standing orders, a motion is debated two days after the issuance of a notice. This means that motion will be debated tomorrow in the August house.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Mapesela said he was happy that the motion would finally be debated. He said even if he lost, he would have been given the opportunity to argue why the government should be removed.
He has previously described Dr Majoro as “Lesotho’s worst-ever prime minister” due to his alleged failure to revive the economy and improve service delivery.
However, the debate will only be of academic interest after the main political parties said they would not support any attempts to topple Dr Majoro.
ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, yesterday told this publication that his party would not support Mapesela’s motion.
“That is Mapesela’s motion, not the ABC’s. We do not support it. But we will see how it all plays out in parliament,” Mr Hlaele said.
In all likelihood, the ABC is merely trying to save face and avoid being left with an egg on its face by supporting Mr Mapesela.
It is an open secret that the party does not want Dr Majoro in the hotseat.
In fact, the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) voted to recall Dr Majoro and replace him with the now fired cabinet minister, Nkaku Kabi, on 2 December 2021.
However, Dr Majoro refused to make way for Mr Kabi, saying only parliament and not political parties could remove prime ministers through no confidence votes in parliament.
Even after Dr Majoro lost last month’s ABC leadership contest to Mr Kabi, he stuck to his guns and refused to go.
Even if it wants him gone, the ABC knows very well this is impossible without the support of the DC and other major parties like its former deputy leader Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (BAP).
DC Spokesperson Qoo laughed off the motion, saying Messrs Mapesela and Makoa had a right to table the motion even if it meant turning parliament into a playground by backing Mr Moleleki for the premiership when his party only won one seat in the last elections in 2017. The rest of the AD’s 10 seats are proportional representation (PR) seats or those of MPs who defected from other parties.
“We are talking about Mapesela and his friend Makoa who received only 50 votes in his Mt Moorosi constituency. His party has only one constituency. At least now we know who they want as PM. It’s their right to turn the National Assembly into their playground, especially on a Friday,” the Mining Minister said. He found the whole issue funny that he could not help but laugh throughout the interview.
BAP spokesperson Motlatsi Maqelepo said they would not “take part in unseating the current government”.
“We are headed for elections which will be held anytime from September this year. We are of the view that people should seek a fresh mandate from the electorate to govern. We will not support the unseating of this government,” Mr Maqelepo said.
Movement for Economic Change (MEC) deputy leader, Tšepang Mosena, said they had not even discussed the motion because “it does not make sense to instigate a no-confidence vote a few months before the elections”.
“We don’t think it is in the best interests of this country to change the government just six months before the elections. Doing so would adversely affect the economy and harm our image and good standing internationally.
“It is not a good thing to turn the government upside down because of the internal issues of our partner (ABC),” Ms Mosena said.
The opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)’s secretary general, Teboho Sekata, said he was not in a position “to divulge our plan of action with regards to the motion on Friday”.
Without the support of the ABC (35 seats), DC (27 seats), BAP (10 seats) and MEC (seven seats), the no confidence motion is virtually dead in the water.
But a defiant Mr Mapesela insisted he was unfazed by the lack of support for his motion.
“I am happy that it is finally happening. Even if I lose, I would have done something. My motion was delayed for several months but all that matters is that it will finally be debated. If I lose, it’s still okay. Those who oppose it can vote for hell but I will have stated my case,” Mr Mapesela said.