Angry and frustrated members of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) and some of the party’s legislators have given Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro a week to act on a host of their demands or risk a no-confidence vote when parliament reconvenes on 5 October 2020.
The ABC MPs and NEC were said to be locked in a meeting with Dr Majoro last night at his government offices in Maseru. They demanded the meeting to discuss his failure to address their grievances including the immediate removal of Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase who they accuse of conniving with fired Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo to recommend the appointment of five new judges to the High Court bench.
They accuse Dr Majoro of appointing his own favourites to key government posts such as principal secretaries while ignoring the NEC’s advice to appoint some of the MPs and party officials as a reward for their roles in bringing down the previous government of ABC leader Thomas Thabane.
They also want Dr Majoro to change his perceived “stubbornness” and cooperate with the NEC on all policy decisions.
The frustrated NEC members and MPs resolved to petition Dr Majoro after holding a secret meeting early this week.
The meeting was held at the Maseru home of Law and Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao. Prof Mahao is also the ABC deputy leader. He led an ultimately successfully campaign to oust Mr Thabane from the premiership in May 2020 and this ushered in the current Majoro-led government.
Prof Mahao yesterday refused to comment on the Sunday meeting at his house and its resolutions.
“No comment,” was all he said when the Lesotho Times called him yesterday.
However, some party sources told this publication that most NEC members including Prof Mahao and ABC deputy spokesperson ‘Matebatso Doti attended the Sunday meeting.
At least 14 ABC MPs including Deputy Minister of Health, Nto Moakhi, are said to have attended.
Party chairperson and Local Government and Chieftaincy Minister Samuel Rapapa is said to have apologised for missing the meeting as he was away on undisclosed business. ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa did not attend as he was on another party assignment.
ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele was also absent as he was allegedly not informed about the meeting due to suspicions that he is now working with Mr Thabane, his father in law to whom he is estranged, in a plot to topple the government.
According to some party insiders, NEC members and the MPs, who attended the Sunday meeting, signed a petition requesting a meeting with Dr Majoro to “discuss party affairs”. The meeting with Majoro was said to be ongoing at the time of going to print last night.
Deputy Minister Moakhi confirmed attending the Sunday meeting at Prof Mahao’s house. He however, denied allegations by some party insiders that he played a key role in the drafting of the petition and ultimatum to the premier.
“It is not true that I was the one holding the petition for people to sign it. No, no, they should not be making up stories about me. The only thing I can tell you is that I attended the meeting and I am one of the people who signed that petition. I think I am either fourth or fifth to sign that petition. Discussions of that meeting are confidential,” Mr Moakhi said yesterday.
However, the party sources said the NEC resolved to give Dr Majoro one week to “change his ways and work with the NEC on policy issues” or risk being humiliated by a no confidence vote in parliament.
“We met at Prof Mahao’s place in Qoatsaneng,” a source said.
“Prof Mahao and Mme Doti attended the meeting in their capacity as NEC members. Mosalemane (Rapapa) sent his apologies for not attending. Masoetsa did not attend as he was meeting the ABC’s Maseru constituencies on behalf of the NEC. Hlaele was not invited for obvious reasons.
“Would you invite someone to your strategic meeting when there are clear signs that he is on another mission which is different from yours?
“The meeting was organised by the NEC and we interrogated governance issues, particularly Majoro’s conduct. There have been repeated efforts to have Majoro cooperate with the NEC but we are not winning.
“In the Sunday meeting, we agreed to request a meeting with him tonight (yesterday) with Majoro to once again raise these issues with him. One of the MPs suggested that we should give Majoro a week to cooperate. If there are no results after a week, we will push for a no confidence motion against him.
“Majoro has repeatedly been informed of his shortcomings but he refuses to see the light because of his stubbornness. He has repeatedly argued that he is not under any obligation to work with the NEC. We are meeting him tonight and he must demonstrate his willingness to cooperate with the NEC or risk being ousted,” the source said.
An MP who spoke on condition of anonymity said the NEC and some of the MPs were unhappy that Dr Majoro had disregarded their “agreement” that he considers appointing PSs and ambassadors from the constituencies of those MPs who failed to land cabinet posts to mollify supporters from those areas.
“Most of us stood with the NEC through thick and thin. Still, we did not make it into cabinet and it was agreed that, people from our constituencies be considered for appointments as PSs or ambassadors so that we can tell our constituents that at least we fought for something. Instead of doing that, Majoro appointed the PSs on his own without involving the NEC.
“We also discussed the removal of (Acting Chief Justice) Mahase. The NEC has told Majoro to fire ‘Maseforo but he still hasn’t done so. He (Majoro) is working with his own people who advise him against consulting the NEC before making major decisions,” said the MP.
He said the Sunday meeting also discussed the need to start looking for Dr Majoro’s replacement and to court Thabane loyalists into supporting their candidate.
Another source said, “we are meeting the prime minister tonight (yesterday)to discuss our issues with him”.
“This after we signed a petition on Sunday requesting the meeting. The issue of his (Majoro)’s failure to cooperate with the NEC has been a thorny matter from the day he appointed his cabinet.
“He is not the first one to make decisions without involving the NEC. Ntate Thabane did the same,” the source said.
Another source said the Sunday meeting and the subsequent decision to give the premier an ultimatum followed several unsuccessful attempts by the NEC to get Dr Majoro to cooperate with it on some key issues.
“Last month the working committee of the ABC’s NEC met Majoro and informed him that it had received intelligence reports that ‘Maseforo was secretly conniving with Phoofolo to recommend people for appointment as judges. The NEC advised that the two should be immediately dismissed.
“He (Majoro) did not act as advised and look at what they (Mahase and Phoofolo) did. Phoofolo has gone but Mahase is still there. So, the NEC decided to mobilise the party MPs and call them to a meeting on Sunday.
“It was agreed that the MPs must ask for a meeting with Majoro and raise all of these issues. It was decided that he (Majoro) must choose between ‘Maseforo and a no confidence vote.
“He must fire Maseforo or risk being humiliated in parliament through a no confidence motion when parliament reconvenes,” the source said.
ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele confirmed that the NEC met with ABC MPs on Sunday. He however, denied that he was working with Mr Thabane to destabilise Dr Majoro’s government.
“I was not part of that meeting because I was on another party assignment with the committees of the 18 ABC constituencies in Maseru.
“I knew there would be such a meeting but I did not know it would be held on that particular day. One of the participants informed me that he had been assigned to brief me about the outcomes of that meeting. He told me that the MPs had demanded a Wednesday (yesterday) meeting with the prime minister at 5pm but he did not elaborate any further.
“I am not attending this evening’s meeting with the premier because I would just be a statue and keep quiet since I did not attend the initial meeting on Sunday. It would have been good to be part of the process from the beginning because tonight’s meeting is the last lap of that process. I will have to be briefed about the outcome of that meeting,” Mr Hlaele said yesterday.
He said the ABC’s NEC was happy with Dr Majoro’s performance so far and denied working with Mr Thabane to topple the government.
“It is not true that I am working with the former prime minister to destabilise the government.
“The former prime minister is still the leader of the party and I work with him in that capacity. I must work with the leader of the party because I am the secretary general. Our offices must closely work together,” he said.
He said although Dr Majoro had the right to make government decisions, it was important for him to work with the party’s NEC as he was in government as a deployee of the party.
Dr Majoro could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone rang unanswered yesterday.
But It clearly never rains but pours for him as his government is also under siege from the Thabane loyalists who are plotting his ouster.
Mr Thabane’s wife, ‘Maesaiah, is said to be mobilising legislators from different political parties to support a no confidence motion against Dr Majoro when parliament re-opens after its winter break next month.
She has also been traversing the country meeting with all and sundry and making donations to drum up support for her plans.
Three weeks ago, AD spokesperson, Thuso Litjobo, confirmed that his party was in talks with the ABC to push a no confidence vote against Dr Majoro when parliament reconvenes on 5 October 2020.
Mr Litjobo expressed confidence that the vote would succeed as they had “the numbers including some ABC ministers in the current government”.
It remains to be seen whether any of these attempts to topple Dr Majoro will succeed. The premier ascended to the premiership with a huge majority, anchored by his main coalition partner, the Democratic Congress. But Dr Majoro has since conceded that efforts to oust him begun just two days after he was sworn in.