Maseru councillors to decide mayor’s fate
THE Maseru city Councillors will meet on Wednesday to decide whether or not to hold mayoral elections next month.
Elections for the mayoral and deputy mayoral posts are due in October when the one year terms of the incumbents expire. However, there has been debate as to whether or not to hold the mayoral elections after former mayor, Mpho Moloi, was toppled in a no confidence vote on 4 September 2019. Ms Moloi was immediately replaced by Chief Hlathe Majara and given that the latter is barely a month in the hot seat, some councillors feel it is not necessary to hold fresh elections in October 2019 in line with Maseru City Council (MCC) regulations. The councillors feel Chief Majara should be allowed to serve a full one year after taking over from Ms Moloi.
Deputy Mayor, Tholang Sefojane, recently told the Sunday Express that the issue would be resolved at a council meeting on Wednesday.
“We expect the Wednesday meeting to decide whether or not fresh elections for a new mayor will be held,” Mr Sefojane said.
“MCC regulations provide for the elections of the elections of the mayor and the deputy mayor whose terms are for a year.
“Both the mayor and the deputy mayor’s terms end in October 2019 and the elections should be held then. But as of now we are only sure that a new deputy mayor will be elected.”
Ms Moloi narrowly lost the no confidence vote by 10 votes to nine after fellow councillors accused her of misconduct. The writing had been on the wall for Ms Moloi’ after 10 of the 19 Maseru councillors tabled a no confidence motion against her for alleged misconduct. She was accused of misconduct after she walked out of a meeting with Local Government and Chieftainship Minister, Litšoane Litšoane.
She was also accused of publicly abolishing Mr Litšoane’s directives at a press conference and disclosing the MCC’s affairs at a political rally in Mafeteng. The rally was held by the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the ABC. Prof Mahao is the deputy leader of the ABC and his faction is locked in a bitter power struggle with ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
“She (Ms Moloi) misconducted herself in that on or around the 1st of August 2019, the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship held a meeting with members of MCC. In the said meeting, Ms Moloi without reasonable excuse, walked out of the meeting showing no respect to the lawful authority,” the councillors said in the motion.
Last month Mr Litšoane addressed a press conference where he alleged that councillors and officials of the MCC diverted M3, 5 million meant for development projects to pay themselves loans and salary advances.
He also told the media that he had dissolved the Maseru City Council (MCC) tender board because it was illegally constituted as it had councillors sitting on it and awarding tenders in contravention of the Local Government Act of 1997 which specifically prohibits councilors from being part of the tender panel.
Ms Moloi and some of her fellow city councillors responded by holding their own press conference where they accused the minister and the principal secretary, Khothatso Tšooana, of seeking to tarnish their images by spreading “false claims” that they had helped themselves to council money to pay themselves loans and salary advances.
However, in a subsequent turn of events last month, 10 councillors turned their backs on Ms Moloi and accused her of being defiant.
“On or about the 30th of July 2019, Ms Moloi held a press conference where she publicly declared an abolition of the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship’s lawful directive on the administration and management of MCC.
“On or about 4th August 2019 Ms Moloi addressed a politically rally in Mafeteng where she made several unauthorised disclosures of information of the council to unauthorised persons who were rally attendants,” said the councillors in the no confidence motion.
The councillors also accused Ms Moloi of abusing council property including the official vehicle entrusted to her for official use.
Prior to the no confidence vote on 4 September, Ms Moloi attempted to defend herself before fellow councillors, saying the accusations were unfounded.
She was still voted out despite her spirited bid to defend herself.
Ms Moloi accepted her removal and pledged to support her successor, Chief Majara.