MPs walk out on Majoro

… internet glitch saves govt collapse

MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU – A faction of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) loyal to newly-elected party leader Nkaku Kabi launched a fresh assault on the legitimacy of the current government yesterday when they crossed the floor in parliament. At least thirteen ABC MPs crossed the floor yesterday after the Speaker asked those wishing to withdraw from the government to show it by moving to the other side in the House. As the House was about to begin deliberations, parliament lost internet connection so business had to be shelved.

The move by the 13 MPs has drawn criticism from MPs backing Prime Minister Majoro who say it was clear that the so-called ABC caucus had not made a unanimous decision. Deliberations on the motion of no-confidence in incumbent Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro are expected to dominate the House today. ABC chairperson Tšoinyane Sam Rapapa told Public Eye that the said motion of no-confidence expected in the House today will not see the light of day in parliament because its sponsors lack the numbers.

A small faction of ABC MPs has filed the same motion about five times before only to withdraw it because they had and still have no numbers to win, he said. “These people should brace themselves for another defeat. They are only 12, while we are 21. They have no numbers and they know it. They are only making noise to disrupt the proceedings of the House,” Rapapa said.

This he said after the pro-Kabi MPs noted that they have filed a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Majoro. Member of Parliament Chalane Phori told Public Eye yesterday that they expect the motion that they submitted last week to be discussed today in parliament. Phori said after their demonstration yesterday in Parliament of moving from the government side to the opposition bench, the government is left without the requisite numbers to legitimately continue at the helm of government.

What is now left is a minority government that he calls ‘caretaker government’ which they plan to remove through the motion after which a new Prime Minister will be announced. He said after winning the vote and removing Majoro from premiership, they will then present before parliament a new coalition government that they want to be part of. “We filed a motion of no-confidence last week. Tomorrow when the House resumes we expect the discussion of the motion to be the first business to be attended to. After we have removed Majoro as Prime Minister, we will present a coalition government that we will be part of.

“What is left now is a minority government which by law cannot govern on its own,” Phori said. Ironically, Majoro earlier this week gathered different coalition partners at State House to demonstrate he still has sufficient numbers backing his premiership. Political parties represented in the National Assembly have thrown their weight behind the continued premiership of incumbent Prime Minister Majoro. At a press briefing held at the new state house on Monday this week, MPs from the different parties with a stake in the current coalition administration expressed support and solidarity with Majoro’s embattled government.

Among those present were the deputy prime minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili, leader of Basotho National Party (BNP) Machesetsa Mofomobe, Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane, Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) leader Advocate Thulo Mahlakeng, Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leader Keketso Rantšo, leader of the National Independent Party (NIP) Kimetso Mathaba and a representative of the Marema-Tlou Freedom Party.

Speaking at the gathering, Majoro said his government remains intact and under no mortal threat despite several attempts at dislodging him from the Qhobosheaneng office. He reassured the nation that the present executive will remain in office to lead the country to the forthcoming September 2022 polls. On the other hand, Mokhothu said his party remains a willing partner to the current ruling coalition, a position he said DC intends to maintain until the next elections around October.

He poured scorn over the recent attempt by the ABC faction to withdraw from the coalition government. “The efforts were futile and remain null and void,” Mokhothu said. According to Mokhothu the political marriage between Majoro and his party has sufficient parliamentary majority, which makes the government safe. Mokhothu said the government has the support of 21 ABC members of Parliament behind Majoro, with the backing of 21 more from his DC party. Add to this five from MEC, four from BNP, three from PFD, with BCP, RCL, NIP and MFP each having one more MP to add it makes a total of 66 legislators behind Majoro’s government.

This gives Majoro a comfortable edge over his ABC opponents pushing for his ouster in the 120-member National Assembly, which currently has only 115 members since five vacancies are yet to be filled. Parliament has stalled since the recent budget day presentation in which the finance minister was heckled out of the House. The budget estimates were later brought to parliamentary committees after the minister presented it to the media in the Ministry of Finance boardroom.

The budget has reportedly been rejected at the committees with appropriation likely to stall for yet another week or two while the tussle for the executive formation continues to run its nasty course. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Majoro’s government faces pressure from other quarters.

This after civil servants threatened to march to push for a 25 percent salary hike while public transport operators are also planning to strike unless they get approval for a more than 30 percent increase on their fares.

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