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Mochoboroane vows to stay put


…declares he is still Communications, Science and Technology Minister despite his dismissal by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on Thursday

Keiso Mohloboli

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Deputy Spokesperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, says he is not going to accept his dismissal as Communications, Science and Technology Minister, by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

According to a statement released by the premier’s Press Secretary, Thabo Thakalekoala, Mr Mochoboroane had been relieved of his ministerial post with effect from 16 October 2014. The statement did not give reasons for the dismissal, but the Sunday Express understands the move followed lack of coverage of the prime minister’s activities by the state media, Radio Lesotho and Lesotho Television (LTV), allegedly due to Mr Mochoboroane’s directive.

The LCD, Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Thesele ‘Maseribane formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012 general election had resulted in a hung parliament. However, following Mr Metsing’s open criticism of Dr Thabane’s alleged dictatorial tendencies early this year, and the premier’s unilateral decision to suspend parliament for nine months on 10 June 2014 to avoid a no-confidence vote, the coalition government fell apart, prompting the intervention of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), among other mediators.

But a day before parliament opened following the SADC-brokered Maseru Facilitation Declaration signed on 2 October, which would see the country holding early elections in February 2015, Dr Thabane surprised all and sundry by giving Mr Mochoboroane the boot.

However, in an interview with the Sunday Express on Friday afternoon, Mr Mochoboroane said he would not accept the dismissal and was conducting his business “as if nothing happened”.

“I am still in office as the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, and government spokesperson, and I am still enjoying all the benefits that come with my contract,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

“I am still using cars allocated by the ministry for  my benefit, a mobile phone, and Lesotho Defence Force bodyguards. Like now, I am from conducting my duties as minister like nothing has happened, so like I said, I am not going anywhere.”

LCD Deputy Secretary General, Tšeliso Mokhosi added it had come as a shock to the party that “hardworking ministers like Mr Mochoboroane can be dismissed just like that”.

“It is rude for the Prime Minister to act against his commitment in the Pretoria Declaration he signed together with other coalition government leaders last month. The Declaration was clear that Ntate Thabane is not going to dismiss top government officials when Lesotho is struggling to return to political and security stability.

“What is worse is that Ntate Thabane was never going to be a Prime Minister without the LCD’s support. That’s why he should discuss such issues with DPM Metsing before making any decisions,” Mr Mokhosi said.

According to Mr Mokhosi, what was even more surprising was that Dr Thabane had asked Mr Metsing to provide a replacement for Mr Mochoboroane “yet he never consulted when he decided to fire him”.

“It was ruthless for Ntate Thabane  to go against the coalition government agreement, which allocated various ministries to different political parties, by dismissing Ntate Mochoboroane who was appointed to that post by the LCD,” he said.

However, Mr Mokhosi further told the Sunday Express that Mr Metsing had asked South Africa’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene “and show Ntate Thabane that he was wrong to dismiss Ntate Mochoboroane”.

Mr Ramaphosa has been appointed by SADC to mediate in Lesotho’s political and security crises, and is expected in Maseru tomorrow. He was in the country on Friday to witness the reopening of parliament in line with the Maseru Facilitation Declaration.

“Ntate Thabane should re-visit his decision and consider that he wouldn’t have succeeded to be a Prime Minister if the LCD had not given him a chance. We hope, as the LCD, that Ntate Ramaphosa will advise Ntate Thabane to reverse the dismissal and let Ntate Mochoboroane continue with the outstanding job he has been doing.”

Meanwhile, Mr Mokhosi also told the Sunday Express that he had been reliably informed that he was the next in a “long list” of LCD ministers the premier is allegedly planning to fire.

“I was in Italy on government business and arrived back home on Thursday and was well informed that there are plans that I should be arrested at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport upon my arrival. Although this did not happen, I am informed I am in line to be fired by the prime minister.

“I also heard allegations that even Ntate Metsing is on the list of ministers to be dismissed by the honourable Prime Minister,” Mr Mokhosi said.

Contacted for comment regarding Mr Mochoboroane’s refusal to accept his dismissal, Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka said: “Mr Mochoboroane’s removal was lawful as per government gazette Legal Notice No 83 of 2014 that reads;

“I, King Letsie III, pursuant to section 87(7)(d) of the Constitution of Lesotho and acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, direct the removal of Honourable Selibe Mochoboroane, being the  Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, with effect from 16 October 2014. Legal Notice No 168 of 2013 is amended accordingly”.

According to Mr Mphaka, whatever government business was conducted by Mr Mochoboroane from that day had been done illegally.

“He might feel that he has got the power and refuse to go now but when the time comes, Mr Mochoboroane will be alone in the courts of law to answer for his unlawful conduct carried out from the 16th October, 2014,” Mr Mphaka said.

“Legal Notice 84 of 2014 clearly shows that the Minister of Education and Training, Mrs ‘Makabelo Mosothoane is now the Acting Communications Minister effective from October 16, 2014 until the appointment of a substantive holder.

“Anyway, we should leave the whole issue of Mr Mochoboroane’s refusal to move to the Prime Minister because on Tuesday he will address the matter during a cabinet meeting.”

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