‘Crisis? What crisis?’

‘Crisis? What crisis?’

MASERU – PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili will tomorrow come face-to-face in Parliament with an opposition that is determined to oust him through a no-confidence vote.

His chances of holding on to power will likely rest on King Letsie III accepting his advice to call a fresh election, if the State Council gives the King similar advice.
If that is done, Mosisili would buy himself an extra three months if the King dissolves Parliament and calls fresh elections.
On Tuesday, Lesotho’s opposition parties said they will tomorrow pass a vote-of-no-confidence against Mosisili. They say they have the support of 74 MPs out of the 120.
Lesotho’s constitution provides that Mosisili can advise the King to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections within three months if he sees that he has lost the majority in Parliament.

If the King is not convinced that there is a need to call elections, he may seek advice from the Council of State as to what should be done.
The King can take the advice from his Prime Minister or from the Council of State.

For Mosisili, his future as Prime Minister will depend on whether the King will agree with his call for elections or whether the Council of State will give the King similar advice.
With the opposition pushing a no-confidence vote, if the Prime Minister sees that he has lost the majority, he can decide to vacate office or stay for just three days.
The leader of the opposition in Parliament, Thomas Thabane, who is also the leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), told the press conference that they have already picked Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki to be Prime Minister once the vote-of-no-confidence is passed.

Under the agreement, Moleleki will be the Prime Minister for the first 18 months while Thabane will take over for the remaining 18 months.
“We are going to have a new administration without having gone for polls,” Thabane said, explaining that the government will just change in Parliament.

To show they command the parliamentary majority, four leaders of the new coalition bracing to take over paraded 71 MPs each of whom pledged to support the no-confidence motion tomorrow.

Three of the MPs, ’Mamandla Musa of the ABC, ’Mamahele Radebe from Hololo constituency and Mothae Mothepu of the Basotho National Party (BNP) were said to have apologised for their absence.

The three are however seen as fiercely opposed to the Mosisili-led government.  Some of the MPs who attended the press conference at the AME Hall were from Mosisili’s DC party and are serving as proportional representation MPs. These are former Water Affairs Minister Ralechate ’Mokose and Refiloe Litjobo.

’Mokose and Litjobo were the DC’s secretary general and deputy secretary general respectively before they were suspended for six years for taking sides with Moleleki, who was Mosisili’s deputy. However, under parliament’s regulations, proportional representation MPs do not have a right to cross the floor but they are at liberty to vote according to their consciences even if it means voting against their parties.

Parliamentary privileges protect proportional representation MPs from being recalled by their parties for voting against their wishes.
In 2006 the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) failed to withdraw its leader, the late Macaefa Billy, from parliament complaining that he had failed to represent their interests.
The speaker wrote to the party saying Billy could not be kicked out of Parliament because he was protected by the law.

Also last year the Basotho National Party (BNP) wanted Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai to kick out its two MPs, ’Mapalesa Matsumunyane and Lesojane Leuta for similar reasons.
The Speaker did not do so until the party sued her in the High Court, but later withdrew the case, and the MPs are still occupying the BNP’s seats.
Mosisili’s numbers in Parliament were further whittled down earlier this month after the then Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general and Small Businesses Minister Selibe Mochoboroane defected to form the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) party.

The LCD is in a coalition with Mosisili’s DC and five other parties. Mochoboroane, the Thabana-Morena MP, is expected to cross to the opposition benches tomorrow.
Although Mochoboroane said he does not support the vote-of-no-confidence against Mosisili, he also said in some issues he may not vote with the government.
This shows that Mosisili does not have any guarantee that the government business will pass in Parliament, rendering him squarely at the mercy of the opposition to rule.
The 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”.
Mosisili may hang on to power pending a High Court judgment in a case in which 12 opposition MPs are challenging the Speaker’s decision to want to declare their seats vacant.
The judgment is expected to be delivered today or tomorrow.

Molapo said even if the court decides that the Speaker is correct, “eight of us are proportional representation MPs and our parties can replace us on the same day if we are expelled from Parliament”.

“This will not save Ntate Mosisili’s government in any way,” Molapo said.
However, the government spokesman Communications Minister Serialong Qoo said “those MPs who think there will be change of government on Friday have their hopes hanging on nothing”.

Qoo said the motion of no-confidence cannot be passed in Parliament before the High Court delivers its judgment on whether the Speaker has the right to fire the MPs.
“They should put 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 Parliament’s 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.
“After that, if we realise that these people outnumber us, the Prime Minister will simply go to the King to advise him to dissolve Parliament and call elections,” he said.
“The DC conference has instructed the Prime Minister to do so and it is what he is going to do.”

He said the constitution provides that and the King takes the advice of his Prime Minister.

Staff Reporter

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