As stalwarts bay for his blood
MASERU – Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro has said he is unfazed by his detractors’ conspiracies to unseat him and will be the head of government until the next election scheduled for 2022. Majoro was addressing a crowd of his supporters at the State House in Maseru on Wednesday.
The supporters went to the State House in a show of support to the prime minister after law and justice minister, Professor Nqosa Mahao, served divorce papers on the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) and declared his intention to form a new party.
Mahao addressed his supporters at his official residence in Maseru on Tuesday evening where he outlined a plan to hold consultations with those who share his concerns in a few days’ time and discuss the programme of action and a name for the new party.
Even though Mahao would not say whether any other prominent names in the ABC have aligned themselves with the new formation, there are fears the split could eventually end with Majoro hanging onto power by a thread.
The number of Members of Parliament (MPs) who support Mahao is not officially known as they are yet to openly defect in parliament. Trying not to be outdone, Majoro’s supporters staged their own visit to his residence on Wednesday.
“Thank you for coming here today to show me support. I know you have been triggered by yesterday’s (Tuesday) events. Your presence here means a lot,” Majoro told a crowd of supporters.
He indicated he was unfazed and said a visit by his followers constituted a momentous show of support. “The ABC is cleansing itself; there will now be peace and unity in our party and we will go to the 2022 elections as one strong party. The people still love ABC but they were just frustrated by us the front-runners,” he added.
He further indicated that months of frantic campaigning lie ahead. National elections will take place next year, perhaps in September as reported by one local weekly.
It has become a parlor game in Lesotho since 1997 when the then Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhele broke away from the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) to form the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) to keep track of which heavyweights desert the ruling parties and to speculate what their departures will mean.
Majoro also took a swipe at his detractors who he said had been plotting to remove him from day one. “They said I will not last a day but today marks 11 months and a day. We will reach 2022. I have been counting the days from day one and I will continue doing so until next year when we go to the election,” he added.
ABC has rarely looked more vulnerable in the almost 15-year period it has been existing, and the reason is largely infighting.
Its latest split is part of a political hangover from the February 2019 elective conference that saw Mahao emerge as deputy leader against party leader Thomas Thabane’s wishes.
Thabane and his band of political friends consequently lost their grip on the levers of ABC and he was eventually cornered and forced to resign as prime minister. The latter is obviously a source of vengeance.
Thabane and his brigade demonstrated to all and sundry that they will fight tooth and nail to regain lost ground. Initially, Majoro was on Thabane’s side but switched allegiance half-way through the internal war, making it possible for him to be elected to replace Thabane as prime minister.
Thabane and his group tried more than once to have Majoro removed but were unsuccessful. Failed attempts to remove Majoro demonstrated that there was in fact another ABC within ABC that was bandied about as the true ABC whose commitment to the party’s policies surpasses that of the ABC which emerged post February 2019.
It is alleged Majoro has switched allegiance again and returned to Thabane’s group. Mahao has said there was a plot by Thabane, ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele and Majoro to get rid of him from the party before the 2022 election but the trio has denied this.
Majoro sounded relieved on Wednesday that Mahao had eventually jumped ship, indicating that this will bring ABC the peace, stability and unity it has longed for since 2019.
Thabane formed ABC in October 2006 and six years later in 2012, the party was able to topple Pakalitha Mosisili who had been prime minister from 1998, thus becoming the country’s longest-serving democratically elected prime minister.
Thabane dethroned Mosisili by cobbling together a majority to govern from a disparate group of MPs from Basotho National Party (BNP) and LCD, many of whom were more anti-Mosisili than pro-Thabane.
Thabane faced a similar problem in 2015 when Mosisili and a group of political opposition that was mostly united by its opposition to him formed a coalition and ousted him.
He came back to power in 2017 after ABC had won most seats in the snap election that was held on June 3, but still fell short of a majority. ABC formed a coalition with Alliance of Democrats (AD), BNP and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL). This coalition was toppled in parliament last year.