Mapesela revives Majoro ouster bid
- threatens to disrupt budget discussions if no confidence motion against PM is not given priority
BASOTHO Patriotic Party (BPP) leader, Tefo Mapesela, has urged parliament to prioritise his no confidence motion against Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.
The combative Mokhotlong legislator, who served in Dr Majoro’s cabinet from May 2020 until his unceremonial dismissal in April 2021, has even threatened to disrupt the National Assembly’s upcoming deliberations on the budget if his motion to oust the premier is not prioritised.
Mr Mapesela made the threats in parliament on Thursday while reacting to the postponement of the 2022/23 budget speech. The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lebohang Ramohlanka, had announced that Finance Minister Thabo Sophonea’s budget speech had been postponed to 25 February 2022. It had initially been slated for 23 February 2022.
Reacting to the news of the postponement, Mr Mapesela said Dr Majoro’s administration should not be entrusted with handling the budget while there was a pending motion of no confidence against it.
“There is a pending no confidence motion I have filed against Moeketsi Majoro’s administration,” Mr Mapesela said.
“That motion should come before the house for debate as soon as possible and that means no other business should be considered before that.
“I cannot entrust a government that I have no confidence in with handling the national budget. The budget should not be discussed before that motion. Do not disrespect us like that.
“Debate on the motion was shelved due to the secret ballot case that I had filed in the courts of law. But now that I lost that case, there is no reason why the no confidence motion should not be discussed and I am saying it should be prioritised before any other business of the house,” the fiery legislator added.
Mr Ramohlanka then assured Mr Mapesela that his motion would be debated once due processes had been completed.
Mr Mapesela filed the no confidence motion in August 2021. It was seconded by Alliance of Democrats (AD) MP Kose Makoa. Mr Mapesela had followed it up with another motion for a secret ballot in September 2021.
On 10 September 2021, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Sephiri Motanyane, told parliamentarians that although he had approved the no confidence motion against Dr Majoro, voting would not be through secret ballot as proposed by Mr Mapesela in the interests of “transparency” and “openness”.
Dissatisfied with Mr Motanyane’s decision, Messrs Mapesela and Makoa on 14 September 2021 petitioned the Constitutional Court for an order to allow MPs to vote secretly, arguing that it was their constitutional right to do so.
Messrs Mapesela and Makoa argued that the no confidence motion should be determined via a secret ballot to allow parliamentarians to freely vote without fear of repercussions.
They accused Dr Majoro of using the national security agencies to “intimidate” his All Basotho Convention (ABC) MPs who were allegedly in support of the no confidence motion.
They also accused Dr Majoro of violating the constitution and failing to govern in a transparent manner.
Mr Mapesela said Lesotho’s National Assembly subscribes to principles, practices and procedures of members of parliament in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) “a substantial majority of which recognise and use secret ballot in motions of no confidence in special circumstances”.
Their application was first heard on 16 November 2021 by Justices Sakoane Sakoane (presiding judge), Molefi Makara and Polo Banyane.
In the 4 February 2022 judgement, Justice Sakoane said they had dismissed the application on the grounds that there was no law in Lesotho which provided for a secret parliamentary ballot.
Only when parliament had enacted laws to provide for secret ballots to govern its proceedings, would MPs be allowed to vote in secret. In the absence of such laws, Mr Motanyane could not be blamed for refusing to order a secret ballot, Justice Sakoane said.
Even if it is tabled and voted upon, it is highly unlikely that the motion will succeed. This as the major political parties like Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress (DC), Professor Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (BAP), Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane’s Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and Small Business Minister Machesetsa Mofomobe’s Basotho National Party (BNP) have all said they will not support any plans to oust Dr Majoro.
Despite being recalled by his own All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) on 2 December 2021 and losing the ABC leadership election last month, Dr Majoro still commands significant support within the ABC. He polled 609 votes to eventual winner, Nkaku Kabi’s 723. This means that he only lost the leadership by 114 votes.
Taken together with major political parties’ votes, his support within the ABC should be enough to enable him to cling onto his post until the elections which are due anytime from September 2022.
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