It’s my chance!

It’s my chance!

MASERU – SAM Rapapa has been brazen about his ambition to replace Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
When other MPs were coy to call on Thabane to step down Rapapa was in the camp bellowing for his exit. His camp joined forces with the opposition to pass a vote of no confidence against Thabane.
Were it not for Thabane’s political dexterity, aided in part by a seemingly sympathetic Speaker of Parliament, Rapapa would be the Prime Minister now.
Back then he had the support of the national executive committee of which he is chairman.

The opposition too was egging him on with promises of support. That however seems to have dramatically changed in recent weeks. The committee seems to have had a change of heart and has instead nominated Doti and Kabi. But Rapapa remains unfazed by this apparent snub.
He says he remains firmly in the race and still has the support of some MPs from both the ABC and possibly some in the opposition.
He is hoping that despite the nominations the party will “stick to the seniority order”.
By this he means that as the party’s chairman he is third in line to be Prime Minister.
His logic is that since the Prime Minister is retiring and his deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, is not in the running because he is not an MP, the chairman should take over.
“That hierarchy is clear,” he says.

Just how many ABC MPs share this view is not known. Nor is it possible to measure his support from the opposition MPs.
His timing could be his undoing. He seems to have alienated a lot of ABC MPs when he connived with the opposition during the proposed no confidence vote. The dynamics that necessitated his alliance with the opposition have changed in recent weeks.

By announcing his intentions to resign, Thabane has muffled the noise from the opposition and blunted their spears.
The battle is now within the ABC, most of whose MPs have not warmed up to Rapapa and are still furious with him for his deal with the opposition.
Yet Rapapa’s ambition remains alive.

He is quick to parade his credentials. And they are pretty impressive too.
He is a chartered accountant and has a Degree in Economics. He was the finance director of the Lesotho National Development Corporation for four years, before which he had spent eight years in a similar position at Loti Brick.

He was a principal secretary for economic affairs in the Prime Minister’s office during Thabane’s 2012-15 administration. Now he is an MP and chairman of parliament’s economic cluster.
If Rapapa was presenting this glowing CV to an interview panel then he would receive the deserved shine.
But this is politics, where your academic qualifications and experience rarely matter.

This is a game of numbers informed by allegiances that could be longstanding, fickle, convenient, petty or substantial.
On that score Rapapa is on the back-foot, hobbled by his lack of support from his own executive committee and MPs.
The opposition that was providing the coal to keep his train speeding six months ago has run out of stock.
Still that does not mean Rapapa’s dream is dead in the water. He might just be the dark-horse positioned to benefit from a crowded field of candidates whose support from the ABC MPs looks split.
And if that happens, Rapapa has a plan ready.

He says he wants to clean up the government’s finances, get a grip on the budget expenditure and pursue civil servants swindling the government by rigging tenders.
“We are spending too much. Civil servants are not following the procurement rules. That has to stop otherwise we will remain in financial troubles.”
He will give the police and the anti-corruption unit more teeth to fight corruption.
Rapapa believes that some of the contenders like Dr Majoro and Kabi are “tainted by association because they have been part of the system that has failed”.
“People are saying the system has to change and it cannot be changed by those from within.
“I am an outsider and therefore well positioned to change it.”

Staff Reporter

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