By Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – In what the opposition has described as delaying tactics, the government has instituted the constitutional case challenging the motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane’s led government.
This court case has been filed by an MP (Member of Parliament) for the ruling majority Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) Hon Lejone Puseletso forcing the Speaker of the House Rt Hon Tlohang Sekhamane to defer the spirited motion by the opposition until the finalization of this case.
The Speaker also promised to prioritize the motion once the court had issued the determination over this matter.
Meanwhile, the opposition has vowed to counter this motion.
Had it not been for this court challenge the august house would have on Monday this week heard the debate of the motion of no confidence in the government. This motion would be moved by the Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Hon Machesestsa Mofomobe who is seconded by the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) Hon Mootsi Lehata.
They have suggested the name of the Opposition Leader who is also the leader of the DC Hon Mathibeli Mokhothu as the next Prime Minister.
The case has been set down for a hearing on October 30.
The applicant, Puseletso wants the court to order the deferment of the motion of no confidence in the government pending the finalization of the ongoing national reforms “in terms of which the Parliament shall promulgate the comprehensive provision to regulate the passing of no confidence”.
In his court application, the legislator for Thaba-Moea No.73 also wants the court to make an order to the extent “that the 9th amendment to section 87 (5) (a) of the constitution be declared unconstitutional to the extent that it violates the basic structure of the constitution per section 1 of the Constitution of Lesotho 1993”.
The MP is the sole applicant in this case and the respondents are the Speaker of the National Assembly, Clerk of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, Minister of Constitutional Affairs, the Attorney-General, Independent Electoral Commission, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Mootsi Lehata, All Basotho Convention (ABC), Areka ea Baena (Baena), All Democratic Cooperation (ADC), African Unity Movement (AUM), Basutoland African National Congress (BANC), Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP), Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP), BNP, Community Freedom Movement, DC, Hamore Democratic Party (HDP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Lekhotla la Mekhoa le Meetlo (LMM), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Lesotho Workers Party (LWP), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Mpulule Political Summit (MPS), National Independent Party (NIP), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Progressive Democrats (PD), Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL), Sankatana Social Democracy (SSD), Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR), The White Horse Party (WHP), Tsebe Social Democrats (TSD), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho Thabeng ea Senai (BTS), Movement for Economic Change (MEC), Basutoland Total Liberation Congress (BTLC), Mphatlalatsane (HOPE), United for Change (UFC), Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM), Basotho Action Party (BAP), Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP), Basotho Liberation Movement (BLM), Alliance for Free Movement (AFM), Basutoland Democratic Congress (BDC), Basotho Poverty Solutions Party (BPSP), Yearn for Economic Sustainability (YES), RFP, Prayer Shawl and Light (PSL), True Reconciliation Unit (TRU), Majalefa Development Movement (MDM), Basotho Redevelopment Party (BRP) and African Ark (AA) being the first to 54th respondents.
The mover of the motion, Mofomobe accused the PM and his led government of incompetence amongst others.
He further accused him of “lacking experience in governance” saying this had attracted “many problems” to the country.
Mofomobe said the PM had “committed many administrative errors” and that his approach to the national issues is “careless” citing the husband of the Minister of Communications who was given the job in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit alleging that due processes were not followed in the recruitment of such an official.
The BNP leader who is also the former Minister took a swipe at Matakane for making “miraculous ” promises wherein he had given a “false hope” to factory workers promising to open more factories and secure the market for those.
In the past Mofomobe had been critical towards Mokhothu whom he is now endorsing for the Premier post, accusing him of being a “fraudster” on Facebook. Asked for a reaction on this, he said “Mokhothu is a convicted fraudster and I still stand by those words because the courts declared him as one.”
“What I further said is that it is important as leaders to always, always embrace our constitutional framework wherein as a leader if I face charges, I don’t abscond and face those charges for courts to carry out their function and Mokhothu did well by subjecting himself through that process and not say he is charged on account of politics.”
Mofomobe also stressed that in a political society, prolonged resentment should not persist, saying politics require collaboration. Citing his predecessors, the BNP erstwhile leaders, Chief Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana who worked with Molapo Qhobela of the BAC and Chief Thesele Maseribana who coalesced to form the government with the LCD’s Mothetjoa Metsing.
He said these collaborations were necessary for “nation-building”.
Even the incumbent, he said had sent people to him urging for collaboration and to put aside their differences.
Before the house began, the opposition members including those of the ruling coalition parties called a joint press conference where they wanted to show that they command necessary numbers to unseat the incumbent government. In the press conference, 61 MPs were endorsing this motion including the three whom the journalists were told that they were absent but would vote in favor of the motion in the house.
If this motion is carried, the country is likely to have a coalition of more than 10 parties, the biggest the country ever had after that of seven political parties in 2015.
The parties endorsing the motion of no confidence in government are ABC, BAP, BCM, BNP, BPP, Baena DC, PFD, SR, UFC, MPS, NIP and SR.
This motion has further exposed the splits within the ruling RFP with some members endorsing this motion and ready to vote against their government. It would be recalled that recently the RFP had expelled three of its MPs including Dr Mahali Phamotse, Matlakeng MP, Hon Jacob Makhalanyane, Abia MP, and Hon Rethabile Letlailana of Lithoteng constituency for not following the party line during the voting of the reforms in the house.
Matekane would go down in history as the first Lesotho PM to be removed from power after barely a year in office.
The 2012 general elections produced a hung parliament forcing the parties to coalesce and form the government. The first parties to ally and form a government were ABC, BNP and LCD. This coalition lasted until 2015 leading to snap elections.
Both Prime Ministers Pakalitha Mosisili and Motsoahae Thabane have been removed from office through a motion of no confidence, with the former in early 2017 and the latter in 2020.
The 2020 government that was ushered in by the Dr Moeketsi Majoro led government also saw a motion of no confidence but Dr Majoro survived the motion as they commanded the necessary numbers.
Since then governments have faced the no-confidence motion. While others have prevailed, some have been removed, ushering in a new coalition composition to form a government.
It is also worth mentioning that since 2012, no coalition government has carried its full term in office as they have all been toppled through this democratic arrangement of no-confidence motion.
In a desperate move to save the government, ABC leader Hon Nkaku Kabi said he had been approached by the ruling RFP to join forces with them and said he was promised the deputy prime ministerial post and five ministerial positions for members of his led party.
Kabi said the former founder and former Premier Thabane has also thrown his weight into joining forces with the DC.
Both the opposition and the ruling parties will likely be strategizing to secure the necessary numbers to achieve their objectives during this time when the court is seized with this case.