… As Matekane picks government up from the floor
The famous 7de laan/ mokou/mokolokotoane government is back wearing a different face.
With just a year in office, Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane has been forced to orchestrate a major restructuring of his coalition government to solidify his position, a move never anticipated by the ruling party and its partners.
On Tuesday, Matekane announced the reformation of the coalition government, now comprised of seven parties: the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Movement for Economic Change (MEC), Basotho Action Party (BAP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), HOPE, and the Lesotho People Congress (LPC) Alliance.
At a press conference flanked by leaders of the other six parties, the Prime Minister asserted the new alliance’s unwavering commitment to accelerating vital comprehensive national reforms, emphasising their resolve to address critical issues and effect positive transformation.
“We stand before the nation today due to the latest political developments in our country. Our purpose today is to inform you that the government is taking a new form. RFP, AD, and MEC have decided to revamp the coalition government. As a result, Lesotho’s coalition government will now consist of RFP, MEC, AD, BAP, LCD, HOPE, and the LPC Alliance,” he said.
This significant reconfiguration was sparked by a motion of no confidence aimed at removing Prime Minister Matekane and installing opposition leader Mathibeli Mokhothu in his place.
The motion of no confidence was filed by Machesetsa Mofomobe, leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP) last month.
This motion was seconded by Mootsi Lehata, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Makhaleng Constituency under the Democratic Congress (DC) led by Mokhothu.
On October 16, 61 MPs wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tlohang Sekhamane, expressing their support for Mokhothu as the new prime minister and urging that this information be conveyed to the Council of State and His Majesty King Letsie III’s office.
“Please find attached herewith 61 Members of Parliament (MPs) which constitute the new configuration of numbers in the National Assembly in support of Honourable Mathibeli Mokhothu as a new Prime Minister,” the 61 MPs said.
“We beseech you to make the numbers known to the Council of State and office of His Majesty,” they added.
However, on the same day, a petition was filed with the High Court by ruling party member Puseletso Lejone, aiming to defer the process and challenging the constitutionality of the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution.
Lejone argued that the amendment infringes upon the fundamental framework of the Constitution and advocated for a postponement of any parliamentary action related to the vote of no confidence until a comprehensive regulatory framework is established through ongoing reforms.
This sudden development brought the National Assembly to a standstill, with Sekhame emphasising the need to uphold the integrity of legal processes, citing past instances where similar circumstances led to the suspension of proceedings.
This intermission provided Matekane, who had seemingly lost the majority, with the perfect stage for a dramatic comeback.
In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Paul Masiu, an MP who had previously pledged his allegiance to Mokhothu, pulled off a surprise exit, reaffirming his support for the current government.
Masiu, in a letter addressed to Sekhamane, delivered his lines with gravitas, stating: “I withdraw my name from the list that seeks to change the government and still maintain our position to support the government.”
Representing the LPC Alliance, Masiu’s performance was a true tour de force.
Meanwhile, BAP, led by the charismatic Professor Nqosa Mahao, also decided to switch roles, throwing their weight behind Matekane.
Following the inclusion of four additional parties, Matekane on Tuesday said the reformed alliance now commands a formidable 67 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.
Mahao asserted that this substantial majority should assuage any concerns of a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister.
“As the BAP, we will encourage this new alliance to allow the motion to be discussed in the National Assembly and put to a vote, as we are now confident that the government has the numbers to defeat the motion,” he said.