THE leader of the opposition Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) party, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, says the infighting within the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) and in government is a clear indication that talks should begin over the creation of a government of national unity (GNU).
Advocate Rakuoane’s remarks were made against the background of last week’s events where the ABC chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, launched a blistering attack on First Lady Maesaiah Thabane accusing her of exerting undue interference in party and government affairs.
Mr Maliehe said Ms Thabane was fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.
Mr Maliehe launched the unprecedented scathing attack against the First Lady while addressing a rally in his Butha-Buthe constituency last Sunday.
The ABC chairman accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.
It was against this background that of what he described as “turbulence” within the ruling party and government that Advocate Rakuoane addressed the media in Maseru and called for talks to begin on the creation of a GNU.
“We are not holding anyone at ransom but given the evident turbulence in the current government, it is time that talks on the establishment of a GNU should start,” Adv Rakuoane said, adding, “It’s time to think deeply about this issue”.
He said a GNU would be a cheaper alternative to holding elections in the event the government collapses. Lesotho has already had three elections in 2012, 2015 and 2017 which have resulted in three governments in the space of five years.
“We know that democracy is costly but this really calls for a paradigm shift in how we do things as politicians.
“The PFD is gravely concerned about the fall and change of regimes in the past two years.
“Once in place a government of national unity should operate on a stringent budget,” Adv Rakuoane said.
The creation of a GNU is one of the opposition’s preconditions for participating in the multi-sector reforms that were recommended by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) as part of efforts to ensure lasting peace and stability in Lesotho.
This has been rejected by the government along with another opposition demand for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC).
Speaking at the same press briefing, the PFD’s deputy leader, Thabang Kholumo, repeated the demand for the setting up of a TRC.
Mr Kholumo said the TRC was necessary to ensure the opposition’s buy-in and participation in the reforms.
He also appealed to SADC “to come to the aid of Lesotho’s judiciary which is under the attack from the government”.
His remarks follow the recent developments which have seen Prime Minister Thomas Thabane demanding that the Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara ‘show cause’ why she should not be suspended and impeached over a slew of misconduct charges.
Justice Majara has since filed a High Court application seeking an order to interdict the premier from acting against her.
Mr Kholumo also called for the declaration of assets and a lifestyle audit for senior government officials including ministers and legislators to discourage corruption.