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LCD keeps partners in suspense

‘You cannot say, with absolute certainty, that our agreement with the DC no longer exists’

Bongiwe Zihlangu

LCD Spokesperson Selibe Mochoboroane
LCD Spokesperson Selibe Mochoboroane

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) will not drop its agreement with the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), for the formation of a coalition government, until the party’s grievances have been fully addressed by its government partners.

LCD spokesperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, yesterday told the Sunday Express that although the party is currently in reconciliatory talks with its two government partners, namely the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP), “we can’t say we’re done until we’re done”.

According to Mr Mochoboroane, the talks, which began last week, had not yielded much so far and all the partners were waiting for Wednesday “where we will conclude on what needs to be done”.
“We have serious issues on the table that we need to discuss and find solutions to, such as the prorogation of parliament and the lack of consultation within government, which form part of our grievances,” said Mr Mochoboroane, who is also the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology.
“So you cannot say, with absolute certainty, that our agreement with the DC no longer exists. It has just been suspended to give the talks a chance.”
He added: “On Wednesday, we will try to discuss how parliament will eventually resume, and only when we’re done, can we then say the agreement between us and the DC does not exist.”

Mr Mochoboroane further said the LCD and DC had “a lot in common” in that they were both pushing for the opening of the 8th Parliament and constitutional reforms “particularly with regard to the formation of coalition governments in Lesotho”.
“The DC and LCD want the same things — that parliament be reopened as the third leg of governance, and for constitutional amendments to be effected. In any democratic dispensation, parliament is a fundamental part of governance.”

The pattern of voting in 2012, he added, had set a precedence that “even in 2017, we should expect the same thing”.
“The 2012 election ushered a new era in Lesotho, dictating that we will have coalition governments for a long time to come, hence the need to amend the constitution, to learn how to manage our coalitions better.
“We need parliament to reopen so that we can start working on amendments to accommodate the detailed formation of coalition governments, because as
things stand, the constitution is silent about it.

The minister stressed that constitutional amendments were critical because the current state of the constitution did not give direction on the formation and management of coalition governments in Lesotho.
Section 87 (2) of the Lesotho Constitution states that “the King shall appoint, as Prime Minister, the member of the National Assembly who appears to the Council of State, to be the leader of the political party or coalition of political parties that will command the support of a majority of the members of the National Assembly”.

Following the May 2012 election, which produced a hung parliament, the ABC, LCD and BNP cobbled up their 30, 26 and five seats in parliament, to produce the 61 constitutionally-required seats, to form a coalition government, thus ending DC leader, Pakalitha Mosisili’s 15-year tenure as premier and rendering his party the main opposition.
ABC leader Thomas Thabane was appointed leader of the coalition government, with LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing becoming deputy prime minister, while BNP leader Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane assumed the position of senior minister.
However, in recent weeks, the LCD has publicly lamented Dr Thabane’s “authoritarian” rule and tendency to make decisions without consultation, among them the nine-month suspension of parliament on 10 June to, among others, allow the coalition partners time to resolve their differences.

The LCD went on to court and sign an agreement to form a coalition government with the DC, a move which Mr Mochoboroane said was viewed by the other two partners as “a threat”.
“The main argument of the ABC and BNP is that the LCD is wielding its agreement with the DC as some sort of
spear, waiting to strike,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
“But our main argument is that parliament must reopen as the third leg of governance. If we fail to agree on Wednesday, then the arguments will continue.”

However, Mr Mochoboroane’s stance conflicts with statements made by Mr Metsing on Lesotho Television on Friday during the 7:30pm news bulletin, where he said the three governing party leaders had “resolved to work together as leaders of the coalition government, for the sake of the country”.
“As for the agreement with the DC, we do not need to talk about it anymore because it has passed, and even the DC wanted for the talks between the coalition government leaders to happen,” Metsing told LTV.
Chief ‘Maseribane also told the national broadcaster on Thursday evening that all was well within the coalition government and that they had resolved to amend their agreement “to make room for concerns that have risen”.

Contacted yesterday for comment on the party’s stance regarding the coalition government talks, DC secretary general, Ralechate ‘Mokose, said they could not yet “say much on the state of affairs”.
However, Mr ‘Mokose was quick to add as far as the DC was concerned, the Alliance of Congress Parties, comprising the LCD, DC, Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Basotho Congress Party (BCP) and Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP) “is still intact”.

“None of these parties has announced that it is withdrawing from the Alliance of Congress Parties and my office hasn’t received any report or letter to that effect,” Mr ‘Mokose said.
Chief ‘Maseribane’s mobile phone rang unanswered when the Sunday Express called yesterday to seek his comment as the co-coordinator of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JMIC).

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