Mosisili cornered

Mosisili cornered

Staff Reporter

MASERU – OPPOSITION parties are piling pressure on government to reopen parliament where they want to push out Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Having sealed a coalition deal last week, All Basotho Convention (ABC) and a Democratic Congress (DC) faction led by Monyane Moleleki see parliament as the next battleground.
ABC leader Thomas Thabane, Moleleki and their partners now have 75 MPs in parliament, a number sufficient for them to pass a vote-of-no-confidence against Mosisili who seems ready to dig in his heels.

With its numbers having been aggressively pruned by Moleleki over the past three weeks, the Mosisili-led government is in no hurry to reopen parliament.

Moleleki now has 24 MPs he will add to those of the ABC, Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) to bring the total to 75.
But the opposition’s newly found majority and muscle can only be used in parliament to effect a government change.
That is why BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo filed an urgent High Court application seeking to compel Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai to reopen parliament.

Molapo wants the court to declare Motsamai’s decision to close parliament indefinitely unprocedural. He argues that Motsamai should not have closed parliament without approval from the MPs.
“This was supposed to have been put to the members so that they agree or disagree with it instead of Madam Speaker making the decision unilaterally as if this House is her personal property,” he said.

“Who does she think she is to reach that decision alone? Does she think she owns the parliament and so she is entitled to do as she likes with it?”
Molapo said they want Motsamai to reopen the parliament “so that she witnesses with her own eyes that this government is the minority government”.

“We want her to see that in parliament so that when she goes to the King to present to him the new coalition agreement she would have seen with her own eyes that the man who is suggested as the next Prime Minister is indeed qualified to be one in terms of the number of MPs behind him,” he said.

“We do not negotiate with her. All we want her to do is to open the parliament, nothing else.”
Motsamai adjourned parliament indefinitely on Tuesday last week amid much protest from the opposition when she was supposed to deal with a motion of no-confidence against her deputy, Montšuoe Lethoba.

Opposition MPs also wanted her to deal with a letter DC secretary general Ralechate ’Mokose wrote informing her of the party’s withdrawal from the coalition government of seven parties.

Motsamai had earlier said she was yet to decide on the letter and also said she did not understand the meaning of some DC MPs’ crossing to the crossbench seats.
As the battle intensifies Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing has warned the opposition to stop masquerading as the government.
The deal between the ABC and DC does not constitute a formation of a government, Metsing said in a statement this week.

But Molapo said Metsing and his partners in government are clutching at straws by refusing to reopen parliament.
Nothing, he said, is going to change the fact that the government no longer had the majority in parliament.
“The reality is that government is caught between a rock and a hard place. They are delaying the inevitable,” Molapo said.

He said the government will have to reopen parliament so that the budget is approved otherwise things will come to a standstill.

“Without a budget approved by parliament the government cannot function. That is the reality they have to face. They can play tricks but the parliament will have to be reopened,” he said.

DC’s deputy secretary general Refiloe Litjobo said he is “sure that that the government is suffocating”.

“Each time they want to get anything done they will have to borrow numbers because they are in the minority. That means no regulation of budget will pass without the government having to beg for numbers from somewhere,” he said.
“Their time is up. They are living on borrowed time.”

Government spokesperson Communications Minister, Serialong Qoo, could not be reached for a comment as his number was not being answered.

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