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Winter break to dodge Thabane ouster

Billy Ntaote

This afternoon, Members of Parliament are set to decide whether the National Assembly should adjourn for a winter recess or assemble for another week to hear a proposed motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s administration.

The MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism this morning learned parliamentary business committee members had all concurred the august house should postpone its winter recess motion for a week at its yesterday meeting chaired by the committee’s Chairperson, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki.

But, members of parliament business committee, Samuel Tsoinyane Rapapa and Selibe Mochoboroane today expressed their disappointment when receiving order paper indicating motion for winter recess would be discussed today, despite their plea to government. These legislators are from All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC).

This request to postpone the winter recess motion by business committee, the Centre understands was targeted to create time for parliament to discuss and vote on a motion for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister Thabane.

The Centre has also observed that parliament’s order paper today includes an unusually long list of questions that Ministers, on normal occasions seldom respond, with the winter recess adjournment motion listed as the last item on the order paper. This, the Centre suspects could be a ploy by government to dodge the motion for a vote of no confidence by imposing a cut-off time on the house proceedings and impose a winter recess on the house.

Contacted for comment, the National Assembly Speaker Sephiri Motanyane said he had a huge workload to deal with and could not speak. Efforts to get Moleleki’s comments were also futile.

A notice for this motion for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister was yesterday June 5, submitted to Parliament by ABC Koro-Koro Constituency legislator Moetebang Koma.

The notice of motion nominates Rapapa to be appointed Thabane’s successor in the event of the motion succeeding.

Koma’s motion is backed by opposition Democratic Congress (DC) Qalabane constituency legislator Motlalentoa Letsosa who is also a DC Deputy Leader.

This motion for a no confidence vote signals the end of a protracted infighting within the ABC that escalated after the disputed election of national executive committee of the party on February 1-2 conference was frustrated by the refusal of the old party leadership to step-down. As court battles ensue over the control of the party, outgoing national executive committee remains at the helm of the party with outgoing Secretary General Samonyane Ntsekele at the centre of the tussle.

Since this internecine conflict, the ABC’s founding leader, Thabane has seemingly refused to work with the new committee which saw former National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao elected Thabane’s deputy.

This ABC February election had among others resulted in the return of Rapapa, a former Treasurer and acting Secretary General of the ABC elected party Chairman while Thabane’s son in law Lebohang Hlaele has been elected party secretary general.

But, this new committee continues to fight to enter the party offices since its election in February, a conflict that has now led to the proposed motion for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister as the new committee loses its confidence in Thabane’s leadership.

Letsosa in an interview with the Centre said the opposition and the Mahao faction in the ABC have agreed in principle to work together and depose Thabane in a vote of no confidence. He said thereafter all other details shall follow.

But, Letsosa said the conduct of the Speaker or his Deputy shall also be a determining factor on what shall transpire now that a notice for a motion for a vote of no confidence has been submitted.

Mochoboroane, speaking as a member of the Business Committee told the Centre the house’s order paper indicating business of the day should have not included the winter recess motion as requested.

However Mochoboroane said the inclusion of this winter recess motion is a clear indication the government wants to dodge the vote of no confidence motion.

“The motion for a vote of no confidence is supposed to be handed to us as the business committee to allocate time for it to be brought into the house. Probably we would allocate it for some time next week. But the problem now is that our request for the winter recess motion to be postponed has not been honoured,” said Mochoboroane.

On his party’s position on the notice of motion, Mochoboroane said all opposition and cross-bench parties were set to vote for Thabane’s ouster, but said details of what shall be the country’s next coalition government will be drawn after passing of vote of no confidence.

An optimistic Rapapa said the Business committee did not expect to see the winter recess motion on today’s order paper as they are expecting the cooperation of the government on the proposed motion for a vote of no confidence.

“We requested the Deputy Prime Minister to give us a week-long to dispense off all motions already before the house and other laws brought to the house before the winter recess motion is passed.

“When the business committee meeting ended, he (Moleleki) was going to consult the government and finalise the business of the house.

“Now that we see the winder recess is still on the order paper amid our request we will have to go to the house and vote against this recess as this requires,” said Rapapa. For his part, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy Spokesperson and legislator Teboho Sekata said the winter recess motion shall be struck down by a united front cobbled together by the opposition and the ABC disgruntled faction seeking Thabane’s ouster.

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