…claims DC-led alliance will not form government due to infighting
THE newly-formed coalition of seven political parties could fail to form government in parliament this week because some of its “disgruntled” members intend to defect, outgoing Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo said yesterday.
According to the Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader, six Democratic Congress (DC) Members of Parliament (MPs) had approached the All Basotho Convention (ABC), BNP and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) alliance, “expressing their interest to join us and defect from the recently-formed coalition of seven parties”.
The MPs, according to Chief Molapo, were “already fed-up” with the “squabbles” within the coalition over the allocation of government posts, had also been angered by the position of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing in the alliance.
The DC, LCD, Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) announced their coalition on Wednesday and elected DC leader Pakalitha Mosisili as prime minister and Mr Metsing as his deputy.
This followed the announcement of the results of the 28 January 2015 snap elections which produced a hung parliament once again, and effectively ended the ABC, BNP and LCD coalition government.
According to Chief Molapo, the disgruntled MPs had expected DC deputy leader Monyane Moleleki to be deputy premier, arguing Mr Metsing was bringing nothing but trouble to the alliance.
King Letsie III has since called for the Ninth Parliament to convene on Tuesday for a special meeting, during which the Dr Mosisili-led coalition, with a majority of 65 parliamentary seats against 55 of the ‘opposition’ is expected to elect the National Assembly speaker. The speaker who in turn, advise the monarch on the new government in line with the country’s constitution.
However, according to Chief Molapo, the anticipated DC-led coalition government could come unstuck because of the “looming” defections of the MPs whose names he refused to divulge.
“Two things are likely to happen in Parliament on Tuesday. The first is that the coalition will try to re-elect Ms Ntlhoi Motsamai (Hloahloeng MP for DC 7th Parliament speaker) as the new speaker to ultimately inform the King about how they formed the new coalition government,” said Chief Molapo.
“The second scenario is that things might turn out differently as the ABC, BNP and RCL may re-elect Ntate Sephiri Motanyane (8th Parliament speaker and former LCD stalwart) and outnumber the new coalition in votes.”
The ABC, BNP and RCL won 46, seven and two respectively of the 120 parliamentary seats on offer in last weekend’s vote.
The DC, on the other hand, and LCD, PFD, MFP, BCP, NIP and LPC clinched 47, 12, two, one, one, one and one respectively, whose total was enough to form the next government.
But according to Chief Molapo, the six MPs could change the situation on Tuesday, and scupper the DC-led coalition’s aspirations.
Chief Molapo also said the seven-party coalition was already fighting over positions.
“For instance, the smaller parties namely the NIP, LPC, BCP, MFP and PFD, most of whom only managed to get one proportional representation seat save for the PFD, which got two, are demanding big positions from the DC,” Chief Molapo said.
“We have heard how one of the smaller parties with just one seat, has already demanded the position of Maseru District Administrator, an ambassadorial role and control of one ministry.
“The rest of these other smaller parties with one seat will automatically want the same, and the demands are likely to be doubled in the case of the PFD which has two seats. Already we are hearing that out of the 17 embassies Lesotho has worldwide, six would be reserved for these parties with the LCD not even included.
“As we speak, the LCD already has more than five embassies. Coming to the ministries, it is also a mess in that these parties are also demanding control. There is also squabbling over who should get which ministry with some DC bigwigs unhappy that they might not get the positions they were hoping for.”
Chief Molapo further said the seven-party coalition would be ineffective in developing the country “because each of the parties will refuse to be accountable to Ntate (Mothetjoa) Metsing, as the deputy prime minister.”
He further said the LCD leader was going to be a “catalyst for the poor performance of the coalition, especially because he is a man very desperate to save himself from prosecution by being in government”.
“He (Mr Metsing) has corruption cases to answer and does not have anything to fall back on in the event this coalition does not yield anything for him. He definitely cannot seek refuge in us, the opposition,” Chief Molapo said.
Most of the DC members “in the right frame of mind” had already assessed the situation and wanted to disassociate themselves “with this sort of partnership which is sure to fail”, he added.
Chief Molapo further lambasted the seven-party grouping for being “a coalition of losers.”
He continued: “The DC lost four constituencies from the 41 the party won in 2012. The LCD lost 10 constituencies from the 12 it had in 2012. The rest of these smaller parties lost constituencies and supporters. This is definitely a coalition of losers, which is bound to fail.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Metsing dismissed Chief Molapo’s claims as “unfounded lies”.
“We all know that Molapo is a regular liar. He recently lied about members of the Lesotho Defense Force being arrested in South Africa. It is not easy for him to accept defeat. He has now become quite famous for insulting me.
“He always says bad things about me which are all unfounded lies. I am not facing any corruption charges. The newspapers have also published that I am facing corruption charges and I am wondering, which charges?
“Molapo and his company should learn to accept defeat. It is not true that our coalition will not see the light of the day. It is only his wish because he does not want to accept defeat. He must stop tainting my name and focus on better things in his life. He should stop all these lies. We have formed government and he should just accept that and move on,” Mr Metsing said.
Meanwhile, PFD leader Lekhetho Rakuoane told the Sunday Express his party was not demanding “too much” from the DC in the coalition government.
Advocate Rakuoane said they were only concerned with implementing the coalition government’s programme of action to develop the country.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from the DC, PFD, MFP, BCP, NIP and LPC were fruitless until the time of going to print last night.