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ABC courts PFD to join government

…Party to be rewarded with ministry should the deal be sealed

Billy Ntaote

The All Basotho Convention (ABC) is negotiating with the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) in a bid to have the party formally join government.
The Sunday Express is reliably informed a draft agreement has already been drawn, in which the ABC would give away one of its ministries to the PFD, thereby stabilising the government following the resignation of Koro-Koro legislator Thabiso Litšiba last week.

Mr Litšiba left the ABC and joined the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) on Wednesday, reducing the parliamentary seats tally of the three parties in government.
The ABC was forced to form an alliance with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) after none of the parties that contested the 26 May 2012 general election had managed to win the 61 seats required to form a government. But following Mr Litšiba’s move, and the uncertainty surrounding the allegiance of another ABC MP, Mophato Monyake, the three partners’ simple majority is under threat.
The recent formation of a Grand Coalition in parliament comprising opposition MPs has also become a threat to the government.

ABC Treasurer Maliehe Maliehe yesterday told the Sunday Express after realising Mr Litšiba was defecting to join the DC, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) made a resolution allowing party leader and Prime Minister, Dr Thomas Thabane, to begin negotiations with the PFD with a view of inviting the party to officially join the government.

Mr Maliehe, who is also the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing, said the move is intended to ensure the ABC, LCD and BNP retain control of the majority votes in parliament.
The coalition continues to enjoy the support of the Bloc parties (PFD, Basotho Democratic National Party {BDNP}, and one MP from the National Independent Party {NIP}) after the establishment of the Grand Coalition, which seeks to oust the government through a no-confidence motion in parliament.

In addition to the PFD, the government is also said to be considering rewarding the NIP MP, Nthekeleng Mofolo and BDNP MP Pelele Letsoela for their support.
Mr Maliehe, meanwhile, said the ABC was also aware its Stadium Area constituency MP, Mr Monyake could soon follow Mr Litšiba out of the party.

Should that happen, the ABC, LCD and BNP coalition would only be left with 59 seats in parliament, and fall short of the required 61, hence the need to enter into an agreement with the PFD and other individual MPs.
“Bringing in Letsoela and Mofolo into government would see the coalition controlling a guaranteed 64 votes, if Monyake ultimately leaves the ABC.
“As the ABC NEC, our decision was meant to bring the PFD to the negotiating table and see how best the party could work with us in government,” Mr Maliehe said.

However, Mr Maliehe said he could not reveal further details of the negotiations but only that Dr Thabane would now be in negotiations with the PFD.
Attempts to get hold of the LCD Secretary-General, Tšeliso Mokhosi yesterday, were in vain as his mobile phone kept ringing without being answered.
BNP Spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe confirmed there are negotiations to bring the PFD into the fold.

“The negotiations could see the ABC, as the coalition partner that has endangered the stability of the coalition, compensating the loss caused by Mr Litšiba’s departure for the DC.
“The ABC would have to compensate somehow but also the LCD and the BNP would have to be accommodative if we are to be working formally with the PFD,” he said.
Mr Mofomobe further noted the PFD’s three parliamentary seats would adequately compensate the loss of the ABC’s two votes (should Mr Monyake also leave the ABC).
“The PFD stayed behind to support the government, with the BDNP and Nthekeleng Mofolo. So these are the organisations and people that would be rewarded for having supported the coalition government somehow.
“There are a lot of positions in government that would be used to thank these parties to ensure the coalition government’s stability,” Mofomobe said.

And if we treat them well today, we would have a better working relationship even post the 2017 elections.”
Contacted for comment, the PFD leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane, yesterday told the Sunday Express
“We are still waiting for government to respond to our decision to give them a vote of confidence openly, which we did in March when the Grand Coalition was formed.
“We are still waiting for them to say how we can assist them as the PFD. However, we do not have an agreement as yet.”
Advocate Rakuoane further said even though no clear agreement has been signed by his party and government, the PFD still fully supports the coalition.

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