DC backs ABC

DC backs ABC

MASERU-THE Democratic Congress (DC) yesterday threw its weight behind Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro whose All Basotho Convention (ABC) is in chaos.
The ABC was thrown into turmoil last week after Deputy Leader Nqosa Mahao broke away to form the Basotho Action Party (BAP) with at least a dozen MPs. The move triggered fears that the defections could collapse the government.

The ABC however says the government is intact and there is no reason to panic.
Majoro told a press conference yesterday that the split will not affect the government.
The ABC held the conference with the DC, in what appears to have been a show of unity and to calm jingling nerves.

Majoro, who replaced Mahao as the ABC deputy leader last week, said the coalition government would last until the September 2022 elections because the biggest parties are still working together.
He said the ABC has the support of 35 MPs while the DC has 27.
If his numbers are correct it means the government has 62 MPs, enough to keep him in power even without the smaller parties. It also means the ABC believes it has lost just 12 MPs to Mahao’s BAP.

That is a blow but not strong enough to upend the government as long as the DC is in the ABC’s corner.
But last night, BAP insiders were adamant that the party has the support of at least 16 ABC MPs.
“Everything is still fluid at the moment but we are confident that those 16 will cross to us,” said one MP with the BAP.

He said the ABC is exaggerating its numbers by counting MPs “who are still undecided”.
“They (ABC) have at least 29 or 31 MPs at most. They are also not sure about what will happen,” he said.
Yet even with 16 MPs, it might be a herculean task for the BAP to persuade the DC to rope it into a coalition government. Such an arrangement would require the support of other parties like the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), with 10 MPs, and the Alliance of Democrats’ nine seats.

If those two are not willing to be part of the government then a DC and BAP coalition would need the support of the other smaller parties that have a combined 19 MPs. Such a deal would instantly shift the power to the smaller parties who will become kingmakers in a government propped up by a very slim and precarious margin.
Yet even with 31 MPs, the ABC would not have lost its leverage entirely.

It could also cobble a coalition but in addition to the LCD and AD, it would need the six MPs from the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and the five from the Basotho National Party (BNP).
The support of the other six parties with a total of eight seats would somewhat insulate that coalition government. What is however clear now, at least according to yesterday’s press briefing, is that the DC is standing with the ABC.

DC leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said Basotho are tired of changing government for no valid reasons.
“In short, we are still intact and prepared to continue despite the problems and clashes that we might experience,” Mokhothu said.
He said the government is focused on the national reforms and combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although admitting that there is some friction between the parties, Mokhothu insisted that they are determined to make the relationship work.
What Majoro and Mokhothu did not say is how the change in the ABC’s numbers would affect the power dynamics in their coalition.

Six cabinet vacancies need to be filled after Majoro fired Mahao and other ministers in reaction to the BAP. Now that the ABC’s margin has been trimmed the DC might want to renegotiate the number of ministers it holds in the government. The other small parties might also want more cabinet positions.
But sources in the ABC have told thepost that the party wants to fill those vacant positions with its own ministers.
That is unlikely to sit well with the DC and other smaller coalition parties.

Nkheli Liphoto

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