Govt laughs off no-confidence motion
THE governing four-party coalition says the opposition’s submission of a no-confidence motion on Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his administration in parliament is a publicity stunt that is bound to fail.
Communications Minister and government spokesperson, Joang Molapo, has told the Sunday Express that the no-confidence motion has “no chance” of success since the governing alliance has a superior number of seats in the august house.
The governing alliance consists of Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The parties cobbled together their 63 seats to form Lesotho’s third coalition government after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections resulted in a hung parliament.
They ousted a seven-party government led by Democratic Congress leader (DC), Pakalitha Mosisili, which failed to last the distance after assuming power in March 2017.
Dr Mosisili’s DC and six other parties that constituted the former government could only muster 47 seats collectively, which were 14 short of the 61-seat threshold to form government.
The “four-by-four” coalition, as it is widely known, also added one seat from the opposition after the elections when the DC’s Tlohelang Aumane joined the AD. The alliance added three more seats after the ABC won the 30 September 2017 by-elections in Thupa-Kubu, Hololo and Teya-teyaneng #24.
As it stands, the government has 67 seats, while the DC and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) have 40.
On Thursday, the DC’s legislator for Qalabane, Motlalentoa Letsosa, and the LCD’s Lineo Tlali submitted the notice for the no-confidence motion to National Assembly Clerk Fine Maema.
The duo wants exiled DC deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, to take over from Dr Thabane in the event the no-confidence motion is successful. The National Assembly adjourned sine die (for an indefinite period) in August and a determination of the date of reopening is expected to be made this week.
Mr Mokhothu fled the country in August this year citing “suspicious vehicles” at his home and alleging persecution of opposition leaders by the government.
The DC is the official opposition party in parliament, and its spokesperson, Serialong Qoo, told this publication the opposition had engaged some “disaffected” legislators from the government side who had committed to jump ship.
Mr Qoo said they had initially committed to allow the government to serve its full five-year term but “this had proved impossible”.
He also asserted that the DC-LCD bloc would be joined by other opposition parties.
However, Popular Front for Democracy leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane, whose party has three seats, was non-committal when contacted by this publication.
“I would rather not comment on it,” he said.
Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane said he didn’t know anything about the motion since he was out of the country.
“I am not aware of such a motion as I am away from home,” said Mr Mochoboroane, whose party has six seats.
Sources in the opposition who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said they were counting on the government’s dismissiveness of the no-confidence motion to “catch them by surprise”.
The sources said they were taking advantage of the frustrations of some legislators for not being appointed to ministerial positions and fissures within the individual parties.
Commenting on the development, Chief Molapo said the opposition’s motion was a publicity stunt that was bound to fail.
“No-confidence motions are made on the basis of various concrete reasons,” he said in an interview this week.
“Sometimes, they are made when the opposition realizes it is becoming irrelevant since the government is taking all the people’s attention with its programmes.”
Chief Molapo continued: “They are well aware that the motion has no chance of seeing the light of day. We know mathematics and we are sure that we have the numbers to remain government. We will debate the motion when the time comes although we don’t see it succeeding.”
He said the opposition parties could inadvertently lose more seats in the unlikely event that the motion is successful and fresh elections are called.
“This is purely an attention seeking stunt, and we are happy to have added more seats in the by-elections making us much stronger.
“If at all there is some dissatisfaction or unhappiness among some legislators, these are issues that can be dealt with internally. We don’t know what makes them think that legislators are so unhappy that they would risk going for elections again,” added Chief Molapo.
The AD’s youth wing also scoffed at the no-confidence motion in a press conference held on Friday, saying it was a mere “dream” by the opposition.
AD Youth League President, Thuso Litjobo, said they would ensure that the government served its full term, adding that they were unperturbed by “some minor fights” in their political parties playing out on social media.
“Some people are not happy because the government has been in place for some months and they did not get any jobs,” he said.
“The problem is mainly at the grassroots level, but at the leadership level we are still on good terms. This issue can be contained within the parties. It can only be a cause for concern when the fights are at the leadership level.”