FORMER Trade minister Tefo Mapesela and former Democratic Congress secretary general Semano Sekatle’s appointments to the Defence and Tourism portfolios respectively, were the highlights of this week’s cabinet reshuffle.
In all, four ministers and one deputy minister were sworn-in at the Royal Palace in Maseru on Monday in the reshuffle which also filled in the three ministerial vacancies that had been vacant for more than three months.
The vacancies arose after Dr Thabane fired then Tourism Minister, Motlohi Maliehe, in August this year while Defence and National Security Minister, Sentje Lebona, resigned on 13 September this year. The third vacancy arose after ‘Mamotsie Motsie resigned from her post as Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation on 22 August this year.
Former Local Government Minister Habofanoe Lehana is now the Minister of Trade and Industry — a position that was previously occupied by Mr Mapesela who has been moved to the Defence portfolio.
Mr Litšoane Litšoane was appointed to replace Mr Lehana at the Local Government ministry while Malimong constituency legislator Leshoboro Mohlajoa was sworn in as the Minister of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation.
The Stadium Area legislator, Mokherane Tsatsanyane was sworn-in as the Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport.
Former Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport, Tšehlo Ramarou, has been transferred to the post of Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, it was the appointments of Mr Sekatle and Mr Mapesela which caught the eye.
For so long a stalwart of the congress movement where he worked with outgoing DC leader and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from the latter’s time at the Basotho Congress Party, then the Lesotho Congress of Democracy and the DC, Mr Sekatle’s appointment has remained the major talking point after the latest reshuffle.
Over the weekend, speculation had been rife that Mr Sekatle and his wife, Pontšo Sekatle, had both defected to the ABC and would be both rewarded with ministerial appointments.
On Monday, Mr Sekatle said his wife was “still with the DC for now but she has also been accused of destabilising the party”.
Yesterday, there were rumours that Ms Sekatle had tendered her resignation from the DC ahead of joining the ABC. The Lesotho Times was however, unable to confirm the veracity of the claims as the Sekatles and the DC leadership were not reachable on their mobile phones yesterday.
Speaking in the aftermath of his appointment to cabinet, Mr Sekatle said he joined Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ABC because the latter approached him at the right moment after his fall-out with Dr Mosisili and rescued him from the DC national executive which had “sought to bury him alive”.
“The DC leader (Dr Mosisili) and the executive had a problem with us hence I left. No one can work for the people when they are miserable,” Mr Sekatle said, adding Dr Mosisili needed to introspect as to why people have been leaving him since his time as leader of the LCD.
“The problem with Ntate Mosisili is that of being in power for too long. One cannot be a leader for 21 years and take pride in that the person who can beat that record has not yet been born. He is uttering such words when other African countries are moving to change their leaders on regular basis in order to develop. South Africa has had four leaders, Botswana four and Tanzania three while Ntate Mosisili remained in power.”
The other high-profile appointment was that of Mr Mapesela whose political star continues to shine after he was moved to the Defence Ministry from the Industry and Trade portfolio.
The 44-year-old Mr Mapesela is also the member of parliament for Mokhotlong #79 Constituency and spokesperson of the ABC.
As an accountant and member of the Lesotho Institute of Accountants, some members of the ABC who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said he owed his latest appointment to his closeness to the First Family. Mr Mapesela could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone rang unanswered.
His appointment comes at a crucial time when Lesotho should breathe life into its stuttering multi-sector reforms process to enable it to meet the May 2019 deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the full implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms.
The Monday swearing in ceremony was officiated by the Acting Chief Justice, ‘Maseforo Mahase in the presence of His Majesty King Letsie III, Prime Minister Thabane, cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, senior government officials and the public.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, said it was the government expectation that the newly appointed ministers and the deputy minister would diligently serve the public.
“We congratulate you for your appointments. The Prime Minister has advised His Majesty the King to appoint you to these offices to serve the nation diligently. Please do as expected,” Mr Mphaka said.