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ABC, AD, LCD in power-sharing deal?

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE ruling ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) and Alliance of Democrats (AD) have rubbished reports that they are teaming up with the Mothejoa Metsing-led  Lesotho Congress for Democracy to save their two year old governing coalition from collapse through a no confidence vote.

This week social media was awash with reports that ABC and AD leaders, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki had hammered a deal with Mr Metsing to form a new coalition in the event that an ABC faction led by Professor Nqosa Mahao makes good on its threats to vote against the government.

There was even a document purportedly crafted by the three parties, purporting to outline the agreement among them to retain Dr Thabane and Mr Moleleki as premier and deputy premier. Mr Metsing, a fierce rival of Dr Thabane, who has even alleged an assassination plot against him, is also co-opted into the mooted power sharing deal as second deputy premier.

The ‘document’ also purports to outline the allocation of ministries to the parties which do not include the ABC’s traditional ally, the Basotho National Party (BNP).

According to the document titled, Draft Corporation Agreement for the formation of the 4th Coalition for inclusive administration entered into between ABC, AD and LCD, Dr Thabane comes in as prime minister and leader of coalition, Mr Moleleki as the first Deputy Prime Minister responsible for parliamentary affairs, economy and the social sector and Mr Metsing as second Deputy Prime Minister (responsible for security sector, reforms and stakeholder management).

The ABC will have 15 ministers and seven deputy ministers, the AD will get six ministers and two deputies and the LCD will also get six ministers and two deputies.

If it is true that the LCD and the AD have thrown their lot with the ABC faction backing Dr Thabane, then the premier will survive a no confidence vote even if the rest of the opposition vote on the side of the Prof Mahao-led faction of the ABC.

The Mahao faction appears to enjoy the support of at least 20 legislators who appended their signature to the March 2019 petition calling on Dr Thabane to intervene and resolve the ABC power struggle in favour of the new NEC.

If all opposition parties excluding the LCD vote in favour of the no confidence motion, alongside these 20 pro-Mahao ABC MPs, the no confidence motion can only have a maximum of 59 votes out of 120.

The main opposition Democratic Congress (DC party whose deputy leader recently seconded the no confidence motion) has 26 MPs and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) has six seats. The Popular Front for Democracy has three seats while four other opposition parties have a seat each.  This brings the total to 59. On the other hand, there are 33 ABC legislators who could all be pro-Thabane. The AD has 11 seats, the BNP has five and the other current coalition partner, the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) has one.

If the LCD’s 11 seats are added to these then the no confidence motion will be narrowly defeated by 61 votes to 59. Such a scenario would facilitate the Thabane-Moleleki-Metsing coalition deal. It is however, not clear if at all the pro-Thabane camp enjoys the support of all the 33 legislators including those who have not pronounced themselves on the infighting in the party. It is also not clear why the BNP and RCL would support a deal which excludes them from the new power-sharing arrangement to accommodate the LCD.

And in the midst of the speculation, the spokesperson of the pro-Thabane ABC’s NEC, Tefo Mapesela, professed ignorance over the alleged power-sharing deal. Mr Mapesela did not appear enamoured to the prospect of working with the LCD to save the Thabane regime.

Mr Mapesela said that if the no confidence vote were to succeed, Dr Thabane would not just buckle down and hand over power to ABC legislator, Samuel Rapapa as demanded by the party’s legislator for Koro-Koro constituency, Motebang Koma. Mr Koma’s motion was seconded by the DC’s deputy leader Motlalentoa Letsosa.

“The only people who can topple the government are members of parliament and we are willing to work with any party which supports the government from falling but not to an extent of compromising ourselves,” Mr Mapesela told the Sunday Express upon being asked about the alleged deal with the LCD.

“But should the motion pass and the government collapse, we shall have no option but to go to the polls. It is up to the MPs to support the government or go against it,” added Mr Mapesela.

While dismissing the purported power-sharing deal as mere propaganda, AD spokesperson Thuso Litjobo however, said they were ready to work with anyone including the LCD to save the government from collapse.

“We have seen this (purported power-sharing) document and this could be a move intended to sow disrepute into the already troubled government. This is absolute propaganda.

“However, we are willing to work in harmony with anyone for the welfare of our people. We are ready to patch up with any party in parliament as long as this shall ensure that our nation doesn’t get to suffer, even if that means working with the LCD. We are by all means ready to work with them,” Mr Litjobo said.

On his part, LCD deputy spokesperson Apesi Ratšele said there was no way they would get into any arrangement to save the Thabane government.

“This document is just a propaganda tool meant to frustrate the voters. We are not ready to work with any of the ABC factions because to us they are just the same. They are wicked people.

“Everything has collapsed under their watch. They have failed Basotho farmers with their wool and mohair. They failed to increase civil servants’ salaries and we fear having anything to do with them.

“They have denied our leader his benefits as former deputy prime minister and they tortured our deputy leader (Tšeliso Mokhosi). These are the same people who have brought our judiciary into disrepute. We are not ready to work with the ABC under any circumstances. We have worked with them before and we know what they are capable of,” Mr Ratšele said.

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