8 MPs fight for PM’s post

8 MPs fight for PM’s post

MASERU-A fierce battle to succeed Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has ensued in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party amid revelations that eight MPs had now entered the race.
Nearly a week after Thabane announced his intention to retire the ABC is yet to reach a consensus on who should replace him as Prime Minister.
Instead, there has been massive jostling among the MPs with others going as far as lobbying coalition MPs to back them.

This has only widened the divisions within the party as each camp aggressively pushes its own preferred candidate.
Senior ABC sources last night said this could be the reason why Thabane has held off giving a specific date he intends to leave office.
An investigation by thepost has revealed that the ABC’s executive plans to nominate two candidates to replace Thabane.
The first is as former Minister ‘Matebatso Doti, who is the party’s deputy spokesperson.

The second is Health Minister Nkaku Kabi who is the deputy general secretary.
Sources say the committee will nominate those two in the next few days and the plan is to make an announcement early next week.
A source however says there are fears that the two might not be able to get enough support from some ABC MPs.
Doti was reluctant to confirm her candidature but said she will accept the position if offered.
“I have not said l want to lead this party especially when the leader is still there. But there will be a Special Conference that will decide. But if they give me an offer, I can accept it,” Doti said.
Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Water Affairs Minister Samonyane Ntsekele is also in the running and is said to be Thabane’s preferred candidate because of his proximity to the prime minister.
Ntsekele fought in Thabane’s corner during the brutal factional battles over the party’s executive committee.
He is also said to have become “extremely close” to Thabane since the First Lady skipped the country to avoid arrest for the alleged murder of the prime minister’s wife Lipolelo Thabane.
But some party insiders say his proximity to Thabane and his wife could work against him.

“He is seen as Thabane’s man and very few people want Thabane to continue to pull the strings when he is out. He is probably a good man tainted by his association,” the source said.
Ntsekele could not be reached for comment.
Also in the running is Sam Rapapa, ABC chairman, but sources say he could have alienated some MPs by openly clamouring for the premiership when his camp joined forces with the opposition to try to pass a vote of no confidence against Thabane.

“Many MPs saw his actions as betrayal motivated by ambition. He is unlikely to get the numbers,” says another source.
Rapapa confirmed that he wants to be the next prime minister.
“I am willing to accept the offer with two hands, in fact l am gunning for the post as the leader of the party if there is a vacancy,” Rapapa said.
“It is not a secret that l even want to be the next Prime Minister. If you could remember that during the party’s hard times when we lodged a motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister, my name was suggested.”

Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro is in the race but is said to have the support of a small clique of MPs who sources say “like the fact that he is a technocrat and has credibility with development partners”.
“He will have to widen his support base among the MPs if he wants to win,” another source says.
Majoro could not be reached for comment.
Public Works Minister Prince Maliehe is also in the mix and some party insiders say he might command the support of half of the ABC MPs. His Achilles heel, party insiders say, is his closeness to Thabane and his wife.

Prince Maliehe was not available for comment.
There is also Fako Moshoeshoe who is the chairperson of the ABC’s parliamentary caucus. It is not clear if his leadership of the caucus would help him sway ABC MPs to his side.
Moshoeshoe said no one has approached him about the position but he will not refuse if nominated.
“MPs will be the ones to decide because they represent the people. But I cannot refuse if they ask me to lead this party,” he said.
“Tomorrow we will have a meeting that could at least shed some light in the party. I cannot go to the people and ask them to make me a leader.”
The other contender is Motlholi Maliehe, the former ABC chairman and current Social Development Minister, who Thabane once fired after a nasty fall out.
Maliehe said “if people could come to me and ask me to do so, l can accept the offer”.

“I joined politics at an incipient stage but l have never asked people to elect me into power,” Maliehe said.
“People in Butha-Buthe constituency have voted me into power five times. I was groomed by the late Ntsu Mokhehle. It would be God’s finger if they choose me. It is a simple job that l can do.”
The last name in the hat is Matsépo Ramakoae, the Matsieng MP, whose source or level of support among ABC MPs is not known.
Ramakoae said she only heard that her name was amongst those which were being suggested for the succession.
“If they want me to lead the party l cannot reject the offer. I can take over,” Ramakoae said.

“I think with the experience that l have gathered from different organisations both locally and internationally, l can be able to apply to move this party to the next step.”
Since Monday the ABC MPs has been locked in long meetings to discuss who should take over. Thabane has not said when he will leave.
There was speculation last night that there are some ministers who are trying to persuade Thabane to stay or delay his exit a little longer because they are unsure of their future he leaves immediately.
Others close to him are said to be insisting that Thabane should not leave until he is certain that his wife will not be prosecuted.
Some say despite being away, the First Lady still wields a lot of influence on the Prime Minister and is insisting that he holds on to power for her sake.

Staff Reporter

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