‘Mosisili threw spanners into new govt’
National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Teboho Lehloenya, has accused the former seven-party coalition government of throwing spanners in the path of the new administration by making controversial last-minute appointments to key positions.
Government recently changed hands after 16 June 2017 inauguration of All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane as prime minister in the aftermath of the 3 June snap elections.
Dr Thabane replaced Pakalitha Mosisili whose Democratic Congress (DC) party assumed power since 2015 in a coalition with six parties, namely, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), National Independent Party (NIP), Basotho Congress for Democracy, Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).
The seven-party coalition gave way to an alliance led by the ABC, which combined their 48 seats with those of the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) to make a total of 63 out of 120 seats. That gave them a slender majority to form a new government.
The Dr Mosisili-led regime renewed the contracts of principal secretaries (PS) shortly before the polls, a move Mr Lehloenya described as a ploy to frustrate the new government.
Initially, the Dr Mosisili administration had announced that the principal secretaries’ contracts ran concurrently with the tenure of the government of the day.
This was after they were forced to buy out contracts of principal secretaries who were hired by the previous Dr Thabane-led coalition government which lasted from 2012 to 2015.
Mr Lehloenya, who is also an AD legislator, said the former government had extended the contracts just to encumber the next administration.
“I was talking to Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe to help us because we only have six weeks to pass the budget,” Mr Lehloenya said, adding that there were several processes that needed to be undertaken before the National Assembly would deliberate on the budget.
He said it would take “a number of days” before cabinet could arrange for King Letsie III to open parliament.
“When (His Majesty) gets here (to parliament), there will only be four weeks or less in which we can deliberate on the budget and seek answers from the executive.”
He said after the deliberations, the proposed budget would be referred to the parliamentary committees and thereafter to the Senate for further deliberations and finally to His Majesty before it can be passed.
“This is manufactured. There was no need for the former prime minister to call an election in a manner that he did. It was not only that, it was also the appointments to the various offices and in our view he did that to frustrate the incoming government.
“So we were thrown into the deep end and ours is to swim and we cannot afford to sink because if we do the country will be in disarray,” Mr Lehloenya said.
However, LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata dismissed Mr Lehloenya’s claims, saying: “He is frustrated and looking for an easy target to vent his frustrations.
“I must advise him to stop being frustrated and govern the country.”
Mr Sekata said the new government had a choice to either undo the policies of the previous government or take them forward.
“If they feel the situation is beyond redemption, they must just do the honourable thing and buy out the PSs’ contracts. When we took over government, principal secretaries still had years before their contracts lapsed and we bought them out. I don’t understand why it is so difficult for them to buy out three months’ contracts.
“Yes, we extended the PSs’ contracts by three months and there is nothing wrong with that. We were well within our rights and they will be well within their rights to buy them out if they feel so aggrieved,” Mr Sekata added.
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