- says they will continue to be a vibrant opposition in parly
OPPOSITION Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing says his party is not bitter about being left out of the incoming governing coalition led by the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC).
The former deputy prime minister said his party will remain a vibrant opposition providing the necessary checks and balances in parliament to ensure the new government will not abuse its power.
Mr Metsing made the remarks at a Wednesday LCD press conference in Maseru. The press conference was convened in the aftermath of the collapse of the governing four party coalition on Monday.
The speaker of parliament, Sephiri Motanyane, announced the collapse of the government after the governing parties submitted letters confirming the termination of their coalition agreement which was inked in June 2017.
The four parties in the outgoing coalition are Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ABC, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD), Communications, Science and Technology minister Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP) and Labour and Employment minister Keketso Rantšo’s Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
The collapse of the four-party coalition is expected to make way for a new ABC-DC led coalition on 22 May 2020. The two parties agreed that Finance minister and ABC legislator for Thetsane constituency, Moeketsi Majoro will take over as prime minister. He will be deputised by DC leader Mathibeli Mokhothu. Mr Thabane is however, insisting on leading the new government until he steps down on 31 July 2020.
The ABC-DC enjoys the support of eight smaller parties. (See story on page 2).
The LCD and AD have not been invited to join the incoming coalition despite expressing an interest to be part of it. The AD probably paid the price for apparently fighting in Mr Thabane’s corner in the infighting that has plagued the outgoing premier’s ABC.
Mr Metsing’s snub is probably down to the fact that he refused to support the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) when it filed a no confidence motion against Mr Thabane last June. The motion was not pursued after Mr Thabane had promised to retire by July 2020 or at a much earlier date if processes to facilitate his retirement were completed earlier. Mr Metsing incurred the wrath of the ABC’s NEC when he went further to negotiate a government of national unity to save Mr Thabane. The GNU was blocked by the ABC’s NEC which enjoys the support of at least 34 out of the ABC’s 53 legislators.
Speaking at the Wednesday briefing, Mr Metsing said they were not bitter despite the ABC-DC snub. He said the incoming coalition was not the government of national unity (GNU) they had advocated for. He said it was merely a two-party government with the other parties brought in a peripheral role to make weight and ensure the proposed government’s stability in parliament.
He said despite the snub, they would continue playing their part as a vibrant opposition and would continue participating in the processes leading to the implementation of constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms.
“Both (ABC and DC) have made it clear who they want to work with and this excludes the LCD. For that reason, we are still in the opposition,” said Mr Metsing.
“We need to accept that this is not a GNU because it’s between two parties. All the others are just there to make the numbers and ensure the stability of the new government. A GNU has to have a unity of purpose where all parties have an equal say.
“This is just another coalition like all others before it. However, we promise the incoming government that we’ll support them where necessary and we will hold them accountable as His Majesty’s loyal opposition.”
Mr Metsing also played up the LCD’s contribution to the recent constitutional amendments to clip a prime minister’s chances of dodging a no confidence vote by advising the King to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.
The bill was proposed and drafted by PFD leader Lekhetho Rakuoane. It was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of parliament and signed into law by the King last week.
Mr Metsing said the bill was his and Mr Rakuoane’s brainchild to save the country from going for costly elections whenever a government lost a no confidence vote in parliament.
After its passage, a prime minister can no longer advise the King to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections. He has to resign and make way for the formation of a new government in parliament upon losing a no confidence vote.
“Even though people don’t acknowledge it, Ntate Rakuoane and I are the owners of that (constitutional amendment) bill and I am happy that it was overwhelmingly approved,” said Mr Metsing.
Although, he said it was not targeted at Mr Thabane, the ABC and DC have said he will be its first victim if he refuses to step down and hand over to Dr Majoro.
Mr Metsing’s sentiments were echoed by LCD spokesperson Apesi Ratšele who told this publication that they did not mind continuing in the opposition trenches.
“We will have to accept being left out even though we have been the most vocal in calling for a GNU. They (ABC and DC) have made it very clear that they don’t want anything to do with us, so what choice did we have?
“We are however, determined and ready to remain in opposition and we have nothing to lose. We will try to be a strong opposition and do our job which is mainly to critique the new government when it errs.
“We will also focus on growing our party in preparation for the next elections (in 2022). We have a lot of work to do. We have no regrets at being left out,” said Mr Apesi.