Showdown looms in Parliament

Showdown looms in Parliament

MASERU – A showdown looms in Parliament tomorrow as the opposition and the government square off in a battle that will determine who rules the country.

This week the opposition wrote a letter to Speaker of Parliament Ntlhoi Motsamai to tell her that tomorrow Democratic Congress (DC) MPs who have joined Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance for Democrats (AD) will cross the floor to its side.

That letter was a follow-up to a no-confidence motion the opposition has already submitted to Motsamai as it prepares to push out Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his coalition government.

The opposition wants the motion discussed soon after the Speaker’s official opening speech. But the government side is determined to keep the motion off the agenda tomorrow. Instead it wants the motion to be introduced only after the budget has been approved on Monday next week.

The opposition is having none of that and has threatened to block the budget if the government stonewalls the motion. Mosisili has already promised to call an election if the opposition pushes for his ouster.

Already it looks like the DC is preparing for an election with Mosisili having rallies almost every weekend.
Tomorrow he will be in Mechachane for another rally. Two more rallies are planned for this weekend.

However, there are indications that the opposition would rather have the battle fought in parliament. All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane told a press conference this week that Lesotho will have a new government without going to an election.

And Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader, Joang Molapo, told thepost that “we are not going to allow the government to run its business because it is now illegitimate”. Molapo said Mosisili “will have to do something illegal, like doing everything without the approval of Parliament so that everybody can witness that there is no democracy in Lesotho”.
As the government and the opposition will be battling it out in parliament tomorrow the High Court is likely to be delivering a judgement that might also have implications on which side wins.

The much-awaited judgement will determine if the High Court had jurisdiction to hear a case in which opposition parties are trying to block the Speaker from expelling its 13 MPs accused of bunking parliament sessions.

If the opposition washes its hands off the case it will be left for the Speaker to decide the MPs’ fate. The expulsion of the MPs is likely to tilt the numbers in the government’s favour.
But Molapo says the opposition is unfazed by the prospect of losing the case because it does not throw spanners into its plans.

“Eight of us are proportional representation MPs and our parties can replace us on the same day if we are expelled from parliament,” he said.
“This will not save Ntate Mosisili’s government in any way.”

Government spokesman Communications Minister Serialong Qoo is adamant Mosisili will not be pushed out tomorrow.
“Those MPs who think there will be change of government on Friday have their hopes hanging on nothing,” Qoo said last night.
His argument is that a motion of no-confidence cannot be passed in parliament before the High Court delivers judgement on the MPs facing expulsion.
“They should bear in mind that they have a case in court. They are just rushing things for nothing,” Qoo said.

“As is the norm and tradition of parliament, we are going to table the budget probably next week and after that it will have to be debated by parliament,” he said.
“There will be no motion of confidence in the parliament business until we are done with the budget.”
Qoo said the business committee will have to first of all ponder on the proposed motion of no confidence and then set a date for it.

The opposition insists the motion does not need to go through the business committee. So which way will the vote go if it does happen?
That is difficult to predict because it will be a secret ballot, a voting system that gives room for rogue MPs to go against their parties’ positions without the fear of a backlash. The opposition has commitments from 65 MPs whose votes are guaranteed. The government has 51. Although the ABC has 46 MPs it cannot bank on the support of two who have since left the party.

The BNP has seven MPs but it can only bank on the support of five because it has fallen out with its two MPs.
The DC has 47 MPs, of which 14 are already confirmed to be joining the AD when it crosses to the opposition. That leaves the ruling party with 33 MPs, a number that might drop further because some Proportional Representation (PR) MPs are said to be with the AD but cannot publicly declare their allegiance because they might lose their seats.
A senior government official told thepost last night that the ruling coalition believes it still has a fighting chance because “there are a lot of MPs who don’t want this election”.
“Our salvation might be the secret ballot but we see an election coming,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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