In a desperate move to save the coalition government from potential collapse, the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) will canvass its parliamentarians to back premier Moeketsi Majoro.
The move comes as Tefo Mapesela this week intensified his push for Dr Majoro’s ouster, demanding that voting on the no confidence motion be done by secret ballot.
Highly placed ABC officials told the Lesotho Times that the NEC’s Wednesday meeting at State House had resolved to hold a caucus with party parliamentarians and plead with them to stand by Dr Majoro.
This after party deputy chairperson, Chalane Phori, had voiced support for Mr Mapesela’s no confidence motion against Dr Majoro.
“The NEC met today (Wednesday) and the no confidence motion was on the agenda,” a source said.
“The NEC members made it clear that they would not tolerate Phori’s actions of supporting the motion against his own government. We told him to immediately refrain from soliciting support for the no confidence vote against the ABC government.
“Phori is part of the NEC and the NEC has taken a decision to stand by Majoro, that decision binds him (Phori) because it was made by a collective majority. He cannot go and garner support against the decision of the NEC of which he is a member… It would be a different thing if the NEC had resolved to support or lead the no confidence motion.”
Contacted for comment, Mr Phori said he was no longer in a position to discuss issues surrounding the no confidence motion following yesterday’s NEC meeting.
“We are (coming) from the NEC meeting today and I am no longer going to discuss issues surrounding that issue,” Mr Phori said.
Pressed on whether the NEC had pressured him to stop sabotaging Dr Majoro, Mr Phori insisted: “I am not commenting”.
Contacted for comment, ABC spokesman, Montoeli Masoetsa, who has apparently fallen out with Dr Majoro, professed ignorance on the NEC’s decision to hold a meeting with party parliamentarians.
“Maybe they discussed it when I stepped out of the meeting room,” he said. It would of course be incredulous that a party spokesman is not informed of such a decision even if he was not part of the meeting.
“I am not denying that we held an NEC meeting today (Wednesday) but we have not resolved to meet with parliamentarians tomorrow (today). Maybe they discussed it when I stepped outside the meeting room but there is nothing like that. I wonder where your sources got the issues that you are asking me about,” Mr Masoetsa said, in remarks that signal the ABC continues to battle with achieving cohesiveness.
However, some ABC parliamentarians confirmed they would be meeting with the NEC.
“I have been informed that there is a caucus meeting tomorrow over the no confidence motion and I am attending,” said one parliamentarian.
Another source said: “It is true that we have been invited for a meeting tomorrow (today) to discuss Mapesela’s no confidence motion”.
Meanwhile, Mr Masoetsa also denied allegations that the NEC ordered Mr Phori to immediately stop supporting the no confidence vote.
“You do know that ABC parliamentarians disrespect us and say that our mandate is to issue membership cards. They say that our duties have nothing to do with involving ourselves with parliamentarians’ business? There is no way the NEC can instruct a parliamentarian because Phori is a member of parliament and he speaks on behalf of parliamentarians, not the NEC. We have no control over parliamentarians,” Mr Masoetsa said.
He said they were not concerned about Mr Phori’s public declaration of his support for the no confidence motion.
Among other people that Mr Phori has courted in his efforts to ensure that Dr Majoro is toppled is Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leader Keketso Rantšo.
A video of him visiting Ms Rantšo has even gone viral on social media. There is also another video of him counting numbers of MPs supporting the no confidence motion.
Mr Masoetsa said this was a game between Mr Phori and party chairperson Samuel Rapapa.
“No, him (Phori) and Rapapa are competing as chairperson and deputy. They are competing and playing games and we have no issue with them”.
Asked what the position of the ABC NEC was on the no confidence motion, Mr Masoetsa said: “We have no interest in the matter, we will only come out and publicly announce our standpoint later but for now we have no interest in what they are doing.
“They are just going to pray on Friday and leave. These issues (voting on the no confidence motion) will only happen next week but we have no interest whatsoever. We will hear how the owners of that motion, the parliamentarians, wish to deal with this motion and once they have dealt with it, we will announce the party’s standpoint but for now, we have no interest in those issues.
“Even if we do not want our government to collapse, it will still collapse if parliamentarians want it to collapse.”
Although Mr Masoetsa said the ABC NEC did not have an interest in the possible collapse of its government, it is the same NEC which mobilised parliamentarians to sign its deal to form the coalition government with Democratic Congress (DC) which catapulted Dr Majoro to power last year.
The ABC’s NEC was then dominated by members who were loyal to former party deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao. Prof Mahao has since abandoned the ABC to form his own Basotho Action party.
Various political players this week warned Dr Majoro faces potential doom if Mr Mapesela wins his demand for the no confidence motion to be conducted by secret ballot. This because the MPs of the ABC, which remains severely fractured, even after Prof Mahao’s departure were not all united behind the premier even though some did not publicly state their positions like Mr Phori. The loyalties of other opportunistic MPs in other coalition partners of the ABC were also questionable (see story above).
Meanwhile, Mr Masoetsa said the NEC meeting did not discuss the controversial issue of job allocations to ABC members.
“It is true that it was part of the agenda but we did not get to discuss it. We will conclude it in the next NEC if need be. Yes, it is true that it remains hanging,” Mr Masoetsa said.