…as Matekane’s era beckons
CARETAKER Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has resigned to pave way for a new three-party government headed by Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane.
Dr Majoro’s resignation is a mere legal formality to necessitate the handover of power from one prime minister to another.
Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, said Dr Majoro’s resignation had been accepted by His Majesty, King Letsie III. However, the King had asked him to continue holding fort until the new prime minister had been sworn-in.
This will not be long from now given that the constitution stipulates that parliament must convene not later than 14 days after the holding of general elections. The latest date that parliament can convene to nominate Mr Matekane for prime minister as well as conduct other business is 28 October.
Government is yet to formally announce when Mr Matekane will be officially sworn into office. The Sunday Express understands this could be done on the 28th of October. There are calls for this to be done earlier as the country cannot continue running on autopilot seeing that Dr Majoro does not seem to have been doing any substantial work. He spend the remaining weeks of his premiership gallivanting abroad to attend every funeral he could get.
Mr Matekane’s RFP romped to victory after obtaining 56 seats, five less than the minimum 61 seats required for any party to form government on its own. The RFP then inked a coalition agreement with the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (five seats) and the Selibe Mochoboroane-led Movement for Economic Change (four seats) to stitch 65 seats to form government.
Mr Moseme said Dr Majoro had handed tendered his resignation to His Majesty, King Letsie III, on 14 October 2022.
“Meanwhile, His Majesty has accepted the letter and further asked Dr Majoro to hold fort until the swearing-in of the new prime minister,” he said.
Mr Moseme referred all questions to parliament’s information officer, Neo Mokatsa, on when it would convene to formally elect Mr Matekane as prime minister. Ms Mokatsa’s phone rang unanswered yesterday.
However, some sources said Mr Matekane’s inauguration was being penciled in for 28 October or even earlier to avoid a power vacuum.
Mr Matekane was not reachable for comment on his mobile phone yesterday. While announcing the formation of the coalition with the AD and MEC on Tuesday, he had said he and his new partners would hold a weekend retreat to map the way forward in terms of cabinet appointments and other issues. He had also emphasised the need for a lean cabinet to cut down on government expenditure.
The imminent advent of the Matekane era brings to an end five years of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party’s coalition rule. During the first three years of its rule, after the June 2017 snap plebiscite, the government was headed by ABC founding leader, Thomas Thabane. He had formed a four party coalition with Mr Moleleki’s AD, the then Thesele Maseribane-led Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Keketso Rantšo-led Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
Mr Thabane was forced out of office in May 2020 by his own ABC party after it accused him of ceding control of both party and government to his “meddlesome” wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane. This paved the way for a new coalition headed by Dr Majoro from 20 May 2020 with Mathibeli Mokhothu, leader of the Democratic Congress DC, as deputy PM.
With his solid academic credentials and experience as finance minister, it had been hoped that Dr Majoro would propel Lesotho towards economic and social development.
Even at his inauguration, Dr Majoro had promised his government would “set aside personal interests and push the national agenda as we don’t have much time on our side”.
He said his government would prioritise the fight against escalating criminal activities, stock theft and corruption, among other vices.
But Dr Majoro leaves a failed state in his wake with the auditor general reporting M6,2 billion stolen under the outgoing premier’s watch and Lesotho having scaled new heights in crime and poverty. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said that more than 320 000 Basotho urgently need food aid.
After taking over, Dr Majoro got enmeshed in fights for influence in his ABC and only survived as PM because the DC refused to support a parliamentary no confidence vote sponsored by his own party to oust him.
The outgoing PM did not deliver on any single one of his promises. Dr Majoro failed to deliver on his promise to capacitate the textile factories to create more jobs for the people. Rather than create new jobs, textile factories have instead retrenched over 11 500 workers between 2020 and 2022 or 25 percent of the entire textiles workforce. By the premier’s own admission earlier this year, more than 300 000 youths are unemployed. The Majoro government did not attract any meaningful investment into Lesotho, contrary to its promises.
He also failed to deliver on his promise to fight crime. If anything, murders and other serious crimes have reached an all-time high under his watch. Lesotho is now ranked first in Africa and sixth in the world for homicides by the respected World Population Review organisation.
Mr Matekane and his coalition partners will therefore have their work cut out in addressing all these ills when they assume power in the coming weeks.