The daring radical

The daring radical

MASERU- IF there was any event that brought Motebang Koma into the international spotlight, it was his decision to file a daring motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in June last year. In a notice to Parliament, Koma, who is the MP for Koro-Koro constituency on the outskirts of Maseru, said the House no longer had any “confidence in the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho led by the Right Honorable Prime Minister Thomas Thabane”.

The motion was backed by the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party and a rival faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party led by Professor Nqosa Mahao.
The motion sought to install Samuel Rapapa as Prime Minister.

But seven months after filing that motion, Thabane remains firmly ensconced in the seat of power at State House, thanks to the efforts of Speaker of Parliament Sephiri Motanyane.
Motanyane thwarted the motion arguing it was filed wrongly. At the centre of the Speaker’s argument was the notion that Koma and his colleagues in the ABC had erred when they nominated Rapapa to step in as Prime Minister as he was not from the opposition benches.

That argument was thoroughly punctured in an opinion piece written by Attorney General Haae Phoofolo.
“I was deeply hurt that he (Motanyane) did not accept the motion but I have since moved on,” Koma says.
He says he, together with other senior party officials, were still in “the process of trying to convince the leader (Thabane) to accept the new National Executive Committee (NEC) that was elected on the 1st of February, 2019”.

“That process (of talks) has made me not to grumble that the Speaker did not accept my motion of no-confidence.”
Koma says while they had decided to give dialogue with their colleagues in the ABC a chance, the talks “went forward and backward” throughout last year.
But much more worrying is Koma’s frank admission that at the moment, “inertia has now taken place”.

Koma remains respectful when speaking of Thabane, bizarrely denying that their faction had fallen out with Thabane.
“We have not fallen out with him,” he insists. “But we are wrestling with him (on contentious issues). We are struggling though to convince him that he must accept the new NEC that was elected in February last year.”

He says Thabane, whose legal woes mounted last week with the dramatic push by the police to arrest his wife, has now been pushed into a corner and is now “desperate”.
Koma says old age has also finally caught up with Thabane. But within that set-up, a few individuals were now taking advantage of his frailties to push their own agenda.
He says at the centre of this cabal is First Lady ‘Maesiah Thabane who has been personally handpicking individuals to serve as government ministers.

“The feeling of most people within the party is that the First Lady is directing the Prime Minister to honour certain ministers whom she personally chooses,” he says.
“But we hope a way out of this state of affairs has now come (following the events of last week).”
Koma was referring to last week’s dramatic events that saw the courts issue a warrant of arrest for ‘Maesiah over the murder of Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane in June 2017.
“(‘Maesiah) was a key figure in disturbing the peace within the party,” he says.

Having totally lost control of the ship of state, Koma argues the only avenue left for Thabane is to tender his resignation to King Letsie III.
“We no longer have a plan and we are now fumbling along. It would be better were he to resign,” he says.
“Although the future is dark, I hope the coalition government will plod on until the next elections in 2022.”

Koma believes Lesotho’s political problems are of our own making.
“The politics of this country has the same rhythm,” he argues.
He says we move in cyclical terms and make the same mistakes, over and over again. We never seem to learn from history and our mistakes in the past.
“We install an army commander whom we expect to comply with what we want. A police commissioner is nominated not on the basis of his abilities but on the basis of whether he will comply with what I want even if that violates democratic tenets,” he says.

It is this direct interference in how our security organs operate that is at the root of our political crisis in Lesotho, he says.
The best remedy, Koma argues, is for politicians to stop lying to the people that they are democratic when they are not.

“Our leaders must understand how democracy works and not advocate for their personal interests. They must stop lying to the people.”
Koma was first elected MP under the ABC banner in 2015 for Koro-Koro constituency. He was re-elected in 2017.
But his journey in politics has not always been smooth-sailing. His first attempt to represent the party in Thaba-Bosiu constituency in the 2007 elections was not successful after he was elbowed out on nomination day.

He went to court to challenge the decision but still lost.
Koma says he “felt molested” after his own party dealt with him in such an unfair manner.

Koma was born on December 13, 1946 and grew up in a rural village called Jorotane near Mohale Dam in an era where all fathers wanted their children to herd cattle and not attend school.
So he would leave the cattle alone and attend school secretly, until his father found out. Of course the old man was not too pleased but still allowed his son to continue with his studies.
Eventually he came to Maseru and enrolled at St Joseph which was then a teachers’ training school. He finished his studies there in 1969.
And thus began Koma’s long teaching career which ran from 1970 until 1991 when he left to join the ’Mateko Youth Centre, a school that sharpened the skills of youths with trades.
He later worked as a welfare officer at Lerotholi Polytechnic until he retired in 2001.

Staff Reporter

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