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PM plays down motion of no confidence

…keeps cards close to the chest over intentions in case motion succeeds

Pascalinah Kabi

PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has played down the motion of no confidence filed against him in parliament, calling it routine.

Dr Thabane recently addressed the media in Maseru where he also refused to divulge whether or not he is going to advise his Majesty King Letsie III to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections should the motion of no confidence against him succeed when parliament reconvenes.

Dr Thabane and his administration have to deal with no confidence motion when parliament reconvenes on an unspecified date. Parliament was indefinitely adjourned earlier this month.

Before that adjournment, the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s Koro-Koro constituency legislator, Motebang Koma, and the opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane had taken Parliament Speaker Sephiri Motanyane to task over his failure to announce that a no confidence motion against Dr Thabane had been filed in parliament.

The motion was filed by Mr Koma and it was immediately seconded by Democratic Congress’ (DC) deputy leader Motlalentoa Letsosa.

Mr Koma proposed that the ABC’s Mosalemane constituency legislator, Samuel Rapapa, takes over as caretaker prime minister, presumably pending processes that would lead Professor Nqosa Mahao to assume the reins of power.

The no confidence motion is the culmination of the protracted war of attrition between the newly elected national executive committee (NEC) of the ABC fronted by Prof Mahao and the old NEC which has steadfastly refused to vacate office.

Prof Mahao is not a legislator and could therefore not be nominated to replace Dr Thabane despite his election as the latter’s deputy at the party’s contentious February 2019 elective conference.

If the motion of no confidence against Dr Thabane succeeds, the premier will either resign in parliament or advise His Majesty King Letsie III to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.

But at the Wednesday press briefing which was meant to brief the nation on the status of government business that includes among others, plans to create jobs for the youths, Dr Thabane refused to indicate his intentions should parliament successfully pass the motion against him.

The briefing became intense during the question and answer time with Dr Thabane’s spokesperson Thabo Thakalekoala repeatedly telling journalists to only ask questions that related to the former’s speech.

But members of the media defied the order and Dr Thabane came to their defence.

And when this reporter asked him about his intentions regarding the pending motion of no confidence against him, Dr Thabane furiously said: “Are you a parliamentarian?”

“How does this matter concern you? Abandon that issue, it is between me and the parliamentarians. They have filed a no confidence against me, let them go ahead. They are free, parliamentarians are free to make a motion of no confidence”.

“That is part of parliamentary rules. That is part of democracy for people to file a no confidence motion against the government. In fact, traditionally every time when the parliament is opened, that motion is the first to be filed to ensure that when the business of parliament resumes, the government that was in place when we adjourned the parliament is still in charge.

“So, that is a traditional motion and now I hear people saying this and that when this is a traditional …tell those people that Thabane says that every reopening of parliament begins with a motion of no confidence. The motion is discussed for five days as per the constitution,” Dr Thabane said.

On whether or not he would advise the king to dissolve parliament if the vote of no confidence succeeds, Dr Thabane said: “That is business between me and the King”.

“When the time comes everybody will know because one does not just go to the King when they feel drunk by the beer. Even I, when I have drunk my beer, I don’t play around in the palace and people who think that the palace is the Prime Minister’s playground are wrong.”

He said that there were “small” people that had been spotted going to the palace. He urged controls to be established on the movement of people going to see the King.

Asked about the alleged corruption in his administration, Dr Thabane said: “The current squabbles in the party (ABC) is a product of corrupt people who are aggrieved that I am dealing with them. I am working on them and instead of abandoning their corrupt actions, they threaten to speak all sorts of rubbish about me. I will not let them off my grip ‘m’e. I will not let corrupt people go unpunished”.

“I don’t give a damn who that person is. It is my responsibility as a Prime Minister to ensure that everyone responsible for public funds behaves well…I will make it my business to deal with people who mess up with the public purse.”

Dr Thabane’s ABC has been at war with itself since the 1 and 2 February elective conference. The new and old ABC’s NECs have been engaged in a bitter struggle for control of the party. It appeared the long-drawn out saga would now end after a recent High Court ruling in the Mahao faction’s favour.

However, things took a different turn on 17 June 2019 after Dr Thabane resolved to “expel” Prof Mahao and four others despite the court judgment. He was forced to make the announcement in the parking lot outside the offices which had been locked up by the Mahao camp.

Meanwhile, Dr Thabane warned that the army would not sit and watch while members of the Lesotho Defence Force were being killed by civilians. The warning comes on the back of a surge in the number of cases in which soldiers have been killed by civilians. Just last week, two soldiers were allegedly killed by civilians in unrelated incidents. The army reported that an officer was assaulted to death by animal rustlers in Thaba-Tseka last week and also expressed concern that this appears to be a recurring practice as two other soldiers were also assaulted recently.

And on Wednesday Dr Thabane said he would be forced to tell the army to retaliate if the killings persist.

“Those who are killing people must also die, they must taste the beauty of death,” Dr Thabane said.

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