Spotlight on parliamentary caucus



MASERU – Tello Kibane, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Peka constituency, is the chairman of the Basotho Action Party (BAP) parliamentary caucus, Public Eye has learnt. The parliamentary caucus is a group consisting of MPs of the same political party in parliament. ’Mamoipone Senauoane, an MP for Thaba-Tseka, is the parliamentary caucus’ secretary while Motebang Koma, representing Koro-Koro, is the party whip.

This was revealed to Public Eye by Motlatsi Maqelepo yesterday. Maqelepo is responsible for BAP’s media and communication and is an MP for Berea constituency. BAP was formed in April 2021, according to information posted on its website, as a breakaway party from All Basotho Convention. Former Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Professor Nqosa, became the BAP’s inaugural interim leader. Mahao was deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) from February 2019 until the time he jumped ship in April this year.

He claimed there was a plot by ABC leader Thomas Thabane, secretary general Lebohang Hlaele and Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro to get rid of him from the party before 2022 election. Thabane, Hlaele and Majoro have denied this. Previously there was relatively no public spotlight on chairmen of parliamentary caucuses until Fako Moshoeshoe, MP for Mabote, became chairman of the ABC parliamentary caucus when it was always in the news. Moshoeshoe was ousted in April last year. He is one of the MPs who defected from ABC in parliament to establish BAP and is now the party’s mobilisation and membership coordinator.

A party caucus chair is responsible for presiding over often heated, and sometimes emotive, caucus meetings. Caucus meetings are closed to the press and public because they are designed to allow party MPs to thrash-out their differences in privacy and then emerge before the public projecting some semblance of unity.

A whip, on the other hand, is appointed by each party in parliament to help organise their party’s contribution to parliamentary business. One of the whip’s responsibilities is making sure the maximum number of their party members vote, and vote the way their party wants. Leader of BAP, Mahao, is not a member of the national assembly but is a member of senate – the upper chamber of the parliament.

Along with the National Assembly – the lower chamber – senate comprises the legislature of Lesotho. Usually, leaders of political parties lead their own parties in government. But in 2012, former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili who was the party leader of the then main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), decided to remain on the back benches and the party nominated its then deputy leader Monyane Moleleki to be in parliamentary leader.

Moleleki subsequently became the official leader of the opposition in parliament, the position which had not been filled since 1969. After the February 2015 elections, a dispute arose within the ABC on the issue of as to who should be the party’s parliamentary leader and take the position of the leader of opposition in parliament. Thabane, who is the leader of ABC and the former prime minister, took the position that he would lead his party in parliament and hold the office of the leader of the opposition and in addition take the ex-prime minister’s package.

ABC’s then deputy leader, Tlali Khasu, contended that he should lead the party in parliament be the leader of opposition in parliament if Thabane was to take the ex-prime minister’s package. In September 2016, Khasu was suspended from ABC’s national executive committee and the party for 90 days. He challenged the suspension in the High Court but lost the case. He then took the matter to the Court of Appeal for redress but still lost. He left ABC in December 2016 to form his own party.

Moshoeshoe told Public Eye yesterday that BAP did not have parliamentary leader saying such a title was unnecessary at this moment. “We are not the main opposition now. We would need to have a parliamentary leader if we were the main opposition and had to nominate the leader of opposition,” Moshoeshoe said.

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