THE Democratic Congress (DC) is considering taking nine of its proportional representation (PR) legislators to court for pledging to support the opposition in its bid to oust Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government.
The PR members of parliament (MPs) — who have pledged to support the opposition bloc — walked out of the National Assembly on Friday when elected legislators were crossing the floor to the opposition side as a sign of dissociating themselves from the government.
The nine lawmakers are former DC secretary-general Ralechate ‘Mokose, former deputy secretary-general Refiloe Litjobo, former chairperson ’Maboiketlo Maliehe, former deputy chairperson Kose Makoa, former Education minister Dr Mahali Phamotse, former deputy editor Retselisitsoe Masenyetse, former National Executive Committee (NEC) fourth member Rethabile Marumo, former third member ’Mathabo Shao and ’Mamosa Molapo.
They were among the NEC members who were suspended for six years by DC leader, Dr Mosisili, last November for pulling the party out of the governing seven-party coalition and joining forces with the opposition.
Described by Dr Mosisili as “rebels”, they were led by then DC deputy leader Monyane Moleleki who — following the six-year suspension — jumped ship in December 2016 to form the Alliance of Democrats (AD), with the bulk of the party’s women’s and youth leagues following suit.
However, the nine DC PR legislators could not join the AD since they were not elected MPs and thus liable to being fired if they joined another party.
The DC PR legislators were among the opposition MPs who held a press conference last Tuesday to reaffirm Mr Moleleki as their proposed replacement for Dr Mosisili if their mooted no-confidence motion on his government succeeds in parliament.
Prior to leaving the DC, Mr Moleleki inked a coalition pact with the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho in which he would lead the alliance for the first 18 months in the event they form government.
ABC leader Thomas Thabane would initially deputise Mr Moleleki and then take over as premier in the latter 18 months.
During the floor-crossing event on Friday, Mr Moleleki and 14 other elected AD legislators moved from the government side to the opposition. Former Lesotho Congress for Democracy secretary-general and now Movement for Economic Change leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, also relocated from the government side to the cross-bench, which is between the government and opposition.
Former ABC stalwarts, Tlali Khasu and Pitso Maisa, who recently formed the Truth Reconciliation Unity party, also moved from the opposition side to the cross-bench.
For their part, the DC PR legislators opted to walk out of the house to highlight their separation from the government side.
Mr ‘Mokose told the Sunday Express soon after leaving the National Assembly that the walk-out was meant to show that Dr Mosisili’s government no longer had the numerical supremacy to remain in power.
“I felt the need to get out of the house so that I could be among the spectators to this historic event,” he said.
“I realised that many people were crossing the floor from the government side to join the opposition and there were some who were left behind on the government bench.
“So, I wanted to see whether the MPs who stayed behind on the government bench could still be commanding the majority needed to be called a legitimate government. As a historian, that was the major reason for walking out.”
Mr ‘Mokose also stressed that he had a “constitutional right” to vote whichever way he wanted in the National Assembly.
“Even though I am not an elected MP, the fact remains that I contributed to the party’s proportional representation seats with 1 950 votes from the last elections. So I have a democratic right to vote for or against my government.”
“The independence of a parliamentarian to agree or disagree with their government on certain issues is a right. Otherwise, there would not be fruitful debates in parliament if I were to be forced to tow the party line even though I disagree on certain issues.”
However, the DC’s recently-elected deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the nine MPs’ stance was tantamount to “fraud”.
“We are looking into what the constitution of the country says with regards to these PR MPs. Those nine seats belong to the DC and any action to walk out on the party implies that they abdicated their seats,” said Mr Mokhothu.
“The actions of these DC PR MPs clearly show that they are not working with the party that brought them into the house.”
The Gender minister said the party was weighing its legal options since the nine “rebels” were denying them their hard-won seats. The DC won 47 seats during the 28 February 2015 snap elections. Out of that, 10 were PR seats.
“We are keen to know how the courts would interpret the actions of these MPs who now act as though they are not members of our party and yet remain in the house.”
Mr Mokhothu said while the MPs’ had rights in the house, the party was consulting legal experts on the legality of their actions.
“Resignation is said to be the only way they can leave those seats. But the question is what exactly constitutes resignation? Does it mean writing a letter of resignation or actions can also be taken to mean resignation? We will leave that to the courts to give us an interpretation.”
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