PARLIAMENT re-opened on Friday with just a prayer on the order paper and no indication as to when the much-anticipated no confidence motion against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will ever be tabled, if at all.
After the opening prayer was said, it was revealed that parliament would resume tomorrow with the discussion of the senate’s proposed amendments to the National Reforms Authority Bill among the notable issues on the order paper.
The bill is aimed at establishing the National Reforms Authority as an independent body to oversee the implementation of the multi-sector reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.
Tomorrow’s parliamentary business also includes the tabling of a report on the Disability Equity Bill aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, the presentation of the Fugitives Offenders (Amendment) Bill of 2019, income tax regulations, customs and excise as well as regulations governing financial institutions among others.
There is still no indication as to when the no confidence motion will be tabled for discussion and voting. Parliament was indefinitely adjourned in June 2019, a few days after Motebang Koma, the Koro-Koro constituency legislator from Dr Thabane’s own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, filed the no confidence motion.
Mr Koma who is one of the ABC legislators backing the party’s deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao in his power struggle with Dr Thabane, was backed by the opposition Democratic Congress (DC)’s deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa.
Mr Koma proposed that the ABC’s Mosalemane constituency legislator, Samuel Rapapa, takes over as caretaker prime minister.
Prior to the re-opening of parliament on Friday, pro-Mahao ABC legislators and opposition leaders including the DC’s Mathibeli Mokhothu said they would still push to oust Dr Thabane through a no confidence vote regardless of how long it took before the motion was tabled.
Mr Rapapa said that “people must not despair because the no confidence motion battles take time”.
“The no confidence motion against (former prime minister) Ntate (Pakalitha) Mosisili started in November 2016 but he was only defeated in March the following year. They tried to delay the motion by closing parliament for long spells but eventually we won,” Mr Rapapa recently said. He said they would not rush into tabling the motion as they first needed to push for an amendment of parliamentary Standing Order Number 111 to enable legislators to vote in secret on a no confidence motion against a sitting prime minister.
He said they would also push for a constitutional amendment to allow parliament to immediately elect a new prime minister upon a successful no confidence vote. In terms of existing laws, a premier who loses a no confidence vote has the choice of either resigning or advising the king to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.
Mr Mokhothu said they would still be “100 percent in favour of the motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when the time for the motion to be tabled comes”.
Meanwhile, Dr Thabane had to address parliament on Friday after the Mabote legislator, Fako Moshoeshoe, complained about the bungling of invitations to legislators to attend an event where His Majesty, King Letsie III hosted International Nutrition Day celebrations. The Thursday celebrations were attended by dignitaries from various African countries but some legislators did not make it after receiving their invitations very late.
Mr Moshoeshoe said he and most other legislators only received invitations late on Wednesday evening. He was backed by the speaker of parliament, Sephiri Motanyane, who said he only received his invitation on the morning of the event.
And on Friday, Dr Thabane told the legislators that even if he was not personally responsible, as prime minister he still accepted the blame for the incompetence within the civil service.
“As the person at the helm of government, I take the blame for the incompetence. I am not the incompetent one but it cannot be denied that there is incompetence. We should stop making excuses for the incompetence with big English expressions such as “generational gap”,” Dr Thabane said.
He also urged parliamentarians to do their best to pass laws to uplift the nation. Mr Motanyane also urged legislators to diligently execute their mandate to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country.
“We have been given the responsibility to tackle all the issues that threaten our peace. Coming generations should be proud of our strides to achieve peace for our nation. I urge all of you to be brave and consider yourselves lucky to be given this opportunity to serve your people,” Mr Motanyane said.
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