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Thabane buys into Metsing’s proposals for a GNU

by Sunday Express
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

OUTGOING Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has finally come around to accepting opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing’s calls for a proposal for a government of national unity (GNU).

Dr Thabane said this in a Thursday statement announcing the end of July as the date for his departure after more than 50 years in the civil service and in active politics.

The premier has been under immense pressure from his own All Basotho Convention (ABC), the opposition and non-governmental organisations to quit in the wake of sensational allegations that he murdered his former wife, Lipolelo on 14 June 2017. He has since been charged with murder along with his wife, First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane.

He first announced on 16 January 2020 that he will be stepping down but only provided a timeframe for his departure in the Thursday statement where he made no mention of the murder allegations but only cited his advanced age as the reasons for his impending exit.

“I wish with all humility, to announce that I will effectively retire as prime minister with effect from the end of July this year or at an earlier date if all the requisite preparations for my retirement are completed before then,” Dr Thabane said.

“I hope that the remaining months that I will spend in office will afford parliament and my party enough time to work on transitional arrangements. I’m confident that my party and parliament will come up with a suitable candidate who will take the mandate and mantle from me to lead Lesotho to lasting peace, stability and prosperity.

“Beyond that date I pledge to always avail myself for any advice or guidance that may be needed by my successor. To the one who will succeed me, please know that being a prime minister is a calling to serve selflessly and not to be served. I urge members of parliament to choose a visionary leader who will inspire our people to achieve things they never thought they could achieve.

“One who espouses integrity, humility, accountability, empathy, resilience and positivity. I have communicated this message to his Majesty King Letsie III and visited the President of South Africa His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa a few days ago with my deputy prime minister to formally inform him of my decision to retire as a good neighbor and in his capacity as facilitator.”

He said retiring has been the hardest decision he has had to make after having battled with the thought for over a year.

“I appeal to Basotho not to intentionally misconstrue my announcement to retire from office, this decision has been the hardest to make in my over half a century career in the public service. I have been battling with this idea for more than a year now particularly because serving my people and seeing them prosper is all that I live for.

“However, it is very unfortunate to see that there are some people who have decided to deliberately distort my intention to retire, others motivated by political gain…Retiring when the road to peace and stability is still long and winding, is understandably a hard call for me, nevertheless, I have confidence that the 4×4 (four party coalition) government and parliament will provide sterling leadership towards marshalling our people and country to lasting peace and stability.”

A notable aspect of Dr Thabane’s statement was his call for a GNU- something which has long been advocated for by Mr Mothetjoa Metsing as the best form of government to achieve reconciliation, stabilise and lay the groundwork for economic recovery.

Dr Thabane called on political players to consider a GNU post the 2022 elections.

“Going for elections under the current constitutional dispensation would only serve to perpetuate instability and lack of service delivery. I therefore plead with all leaders to consider a government of national unity post the 2022 general elections.”

He also pleaded with legislators to “always have unity of purpose and remain loyal to their call”.

“They (legislators) must remember that as leaders they wield a lot of influence on Basotho. Their actions and utterances may make or break our nation. They should always be motivated by patriotism and complete subjugation of self, absolute honesty, integrity, up rightness…They should never let their judgment be clouded by hatred, jealousy and other negative considerations,” Dr Thabane said.

Contacted for comment on Dr Thabane’s retirement plans and the succession, ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, said in as much as they wanted the premier “gone as soon as yesterday”, it was important that the transitional arrangements be made before he goes.

“He (Dr Thabane) is moving towards his departure and we will meet with the ABC MPs next week (this week over the succession),” said Mr Hlaele.


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