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Knives out for Aumane

Minister of Planning Tlohelang Aumane

. . . as new minister faces DC backlash for defecting to AD

’Marafaele Mohloboli

NEWLY-APPOINTED Development Planning Minister, Tlohelang Aumane, had to run for cover into his car from angry Democratic Congress (DC) supporters in Semena constituency yesterday over allegations he defected to the Alliance for Democrats (AD).

Mr Aumane, who is also the DC legislator for the constituency, has come into the party’s crosshairs over his appointment as minister, with the main opposition party vowing to fight for his ouster in court if he were to join the AD.

Mr Aumane was the surprise addition to the 26 other ministers and their deputies who were sworn-in on Friday by Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi given that he was from the opposition party DC.

He had successfully contested the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections on a DC ticket, garnering 3 250 votes with the closest challenger being the All Basotho Convention (ABC) candidate with 1 606 votes, while the AD candidate had 212 votes.

The ABC, AD went on to cobble together the 57 seats they won in the elections – along with the six won by the Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho – to form Lesotho’s third coalition government.

The seven party former governing alliance, of which the DC was a leading partner, could only muster a combined 47 seats, which were 14 short of the 61-seat threshold to form government.

Speculation had been rife ahead of Friday’s swearing-in ceremony that Mr Aumane had defected to the AD, with the legislator expected to make the switch official in the National Assembly when the august house resumes sittings.

An audio clip had been circulating on social media in which some unidentified DC supporters from Semena constituency claimed that Mr Aumane was on the verge of defecting to the AD.

This past week, Mr Aumane had told this newspaper’s sister publication, Lesotho Times, that he would be holding a constituency meeting yesterday over the issue although he denied having defected to the AD.

It is during that meeting yesterday afternoon in Bobete, Ha Marumo that Mr Aumane faced the ire of DC supporters who accused him of betrayal.

Mr Aumane’s attempts to address the crowd were futile as they quickly became rowdy, leaving the minister with no choice but to seek refuge in his Toyota bakkie at the behest of his bodyguards.

A video of the incident, which is already circulating on social media, shows an angry mob hurling expletives at the legislator after he ran for cover in his vehicle.

In the clip, a female DC supporter accuses Mr Aumane of “stealing” the party’s votes.

“Leave, you thief who has stolen our votes. You are silly. You are lucky to have escaped; we are coming for you. We should have stoned this vehicle which you are travelling in. You are a disloyal moron,” she ranted, as the other supporters sang and danced.

Mr Aumane’s vehicle had to be driven into the fields after the road was blocked by a vehicle ferrying DC supporters holding canes and stones.

Mr Aumane was unreachable at the time of going to press despite having asked this reporter to get back to him after the incident.

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