DEPUTY Leader of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) has set himself on a collision course with opposition Lesotho Congress of Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing by rejecting the latter’s demand for a government of a national unity (GNU).
Prof Mahao came out strongly against the GNU proposal, saying there was no way that the country’s numerous political parties could all be incorporated into government. He said even if this had been possible, it would still be undesirable as it would kill democracy by removing the dissenting opposition voices that would keep the government in check.
Mr Metsing is former deputy prime minister in the previous Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ regime which lasted from 2015 to 2017. He served in the same capacity in the first coalition that was headed by current Prime Minister and ABC leader Thomas Thabane from 2012 to 2015.
The former deputy premier has lately been very vocal in calling for a GNU as the only way out of the instability facing the country.
He has even made a GNU deal a precondition for his support for a no confidence motion that the Pro-Mahao faction of the ABC intend to move against Dr Thabane when parliament is eventually re-opened.
He has said he will side with whoever offers his party a GNU deal and his LCD party’s 11 parliamentary seats could be the deciding factor as to the success or failure of the no confidence vote against Dr Thabane.
But Prof Mahao may have closed the door on a possible and crucial alliance with the LCD against Dr Thabane by coming out strongly against a GNU at a recent public discussion where he featured alongside Mr Metsing and Ms Tšepang Tšita-Mosena of the opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
Addressing the public who showed in large numbers for the Friday event, Prof Mahao said Lesotho was faced with huge challenges of job creation because a huge chunk of the national budget ended up in the coffers of politicians. He said it therefore not in the country’s interests to compound the problem by creating a GNU.
“Members of parliament have aggregated all the monies this country has to themselves hence there are no jobs and even the education of this country is suffering,” Prof Mahao told the public at the event that was organised by the Transformation Resource Centre.
“The political industry is the only one that is growing in this country and everything else is neglected. It (political industry) is growing like a fermented Sesotho beer which can’t be stopped. Parties are always breaking up because everyone knows that once they form a new party, there will get some funding given and that money is often diverted for other personal reasons like running tuck shops,” Prof Mahao said.
He said there was no way that the country’s numerous political parties could all be incorporated into government.
“There are just way too many parties and having all their leaders in government would be closing the democratic platform for dissension. No one will care to know about the needs of the electorate as they will all be too busy looking after their own interests.
“My worst fear is that the cabinet is just way too big and I have a problem with this concept of a GNU. My main worry is that we still have not identified our problems and we still don’t even know how we got here in the first place. We really need to downsize our cabinet. My worst fear is that politicians have seen opportunity in being in government.”
Prof Mahao said even without a GNU, there could still be a way of having the government and opposition working together on resolving pressing socio-economic and other challenges afflicting the nation.
On his part, Mr Metsing reiterated his call for a GNU as the only way out of the instability.
“I am just thankful that we differ and at least you (Prof Mahao) concede that a GNU is provided for in the laws of Lesotho unlike some people who think it was is just some concept I thought up and wish for. I’m hopeful that next time when we sit down we’ll agree on some issues,” Mr Metsing.
On her part, Ms Tšita-Mosena said although the MEC agreed in principle to the concept of a GNU, they would rather have a more inclusive transitional government to lead up to 2022 when the next elections are due.
“We, as the MEC, agree with the concept of a GNU but we would rather call it a transitional government. Everyone can see that the government is numerically challenged and unstable. But we don’t want elections now as they would come at an unnecessary cost and that money could be used to advance meaningful service delivery.
“We need to pause and work on the fundamental issues and we are at an opportune time to work on the reforms process. A transitional government is all that we need up to 2022.
“We’d like to see all parties taking part because the current dispensation is not succeeding. We need an effective cabinet and we can only have that through a transitional government,” Ms Tšita-Mosena said.