OPPOSITION Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki, has gone back on his earlier decision not to stand for election. Come 2022, the former deputy prime minister will seek re-election in his Machache constituency.
Explaining the U-turn, AD deputy leader, Ntoi Rapapa, said Mr Moleleki had initially resolved not to stand in his constituency but seek to return to parliament via the proportional representation (PR) route. However, should the constitutional amendments being proposed as part of the ongoing multi-sector reforms be passed, PR legislators would only be chosen from the list of people who contested and lost in the constituencies, providing they had garnered significant votes.
This means that Mr Moleleki would have to contest in Machache for him to stand any chance of becoming an MP even via the PR route in the event that he lost out, Mr Rapapa explained. “In as much as the leader had previously decided in good faith not to contest in Machache, the party’s national executive committee (NEC)has decided that he should stand for elections for one last time,” Mr Rapapa said.
“The proposed constitutional amendments provide that for anyone to be eligible for a PR seat, they should have contested in the elections and attained a significant number of votes even if they go on to lose the seat. Therefore, the leader (Moleleki) will have to stand for election,” Mr Rapapa added.
Earlier this year in April, Moleleki had said he would not be standing as the party candidate in Machache. He had said he would seek to return to parliament as a non-constituency, proportional representation (PR) legislator, for what would be his last tenure in parliament. Thereafter would pass the baton to younger politicians.
Mr Moleleki’s first made the pledge to gradually hand over to fresh blood in 2017. At the time, he said his decision not to stand in future elections was premised on his belief that leaders should not cling to positions for life but make way for others.
“It is a disgrace that people are still saying one person should be a leader for 40 years. We need to foster a culture of passing the leadership baton,” Mr Moleleki said at the time.
“The six times that I have been elected in Machache mark the end of my time as a candidate in that constituency and at the next election, whether it comes tomorrow or in the year 2022. I will not be standing as a candidate for Machache constituency. When there was a need for me to stand for constituency elections, I did and now it is time to give another person an opportunity to stand,” Moleleki had said.
In another development, Mr Rapapa said the AD was gravely concerned by the Moeketsi Majoro administration’s failure to stem the tide of indiscriminate killings which had catapulted Lesotho to the unenviable position of being Africa’s murder capital and the sixth most homicidal nation in the world.
“The Prime Minister has beefed up his security. He has even increased the number of vehicles for his escort and also increased his security personnel. Clearly, he is feeling unsecure but he has done nothing about the people who are being murdered like insects day and night. There is no security for the public yet crime is at its peak more than any other time since Lesotho became a democratic state,” said Mr Rapapa.
He also bemoaned the government’s failure to tackle job losses in the textile factories which were contributing to high unemployment and consequent poverty in the country.
“As if this is not enough, we have also noted the persecutions of dissenting politicians in a bid to silence them. There are some members of the opposition who tabled no confidence motion against the government a few months ago and petitioned the High Court to order that voting be conducted via a secret ballot. However, the petition has not been finalised. We hope this will be done without further delays,” Mr Rapapa said.
His comments were probably in reference to last week’s arrests of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa and deputy chairperson Chalane Phori for alleged sedition in connection with their statements confirming that Dr Majoro had been recalled from the prime minister’s post. Dr Majoro was recalled by the party’s NEC during its 2 December 2021 session in Maseru.
The party has chosen former Agriculture and Food Security Minister Nkaku Kabi to replace Dr Majoro. However, the premier has refused to go. Two of his allies, Tlali Mohapi and Keketso Lepheane, have since launched an urgent constitutional application to stop ABC leader and former premier Thomas Thabane and the party from “unconstitutionally” ousting him. (See page 2).