Lesotho – the folly of government of the elites, by the elites, for the elites
In a development that came as a surprise to no-one, Lesotho’s opposition parties on Wednesday, March 1, joined forces with a ruling coalition breakaway group and ganged up on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to pass a parliamentary motion of no-confidence in his government – a move likely to send the country to its third general election in less than five years.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai stated that the “motion to urge His Majesty King Letsie III to appoint Honourable Monyane Moleleki as the next prime minister has been carried.”
Mr Mosisili now has three days to either step down or ask King Letsie III to dissolve Parliament, which would force fresh elections within three months.
Giving an indication of the choice that will be taken, the prime minister’s spokesperson repeated an earlier threat by Mr Mosisili that if a motion of no confidence was carried, he would not resign but instead ask the monarch to dissolve Parliament and force fresh elections.
“He will continue to be the prime minister until we go for elections,” his advisor told local media. The motion of no confidence has been coming for months and dates to a split in the Democratic Congress (DC) late last year when Deputy Leader Monyane Moleleki walked out of the DC-led coalition, taking a majority of DC Members of Parliament (MPs) with him, and stated his intention to seek the no confidence motion.
Mr Moleketi formed the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and was quickly supported by the opposition All Basotho Congress (ABC) of former Prime Minister Tom Thabane and several smaller opposition groupings.
Wednesday’s developments mirror those of two years ago when Mr Thabane’s ruling coalition faced a similar vote of no confidence that he avoided by proroguing Parliament sine die – prompting a constitutional and political crisis that sparked months of instability, as yet unproved allegations of an attempted coup, murder and mayhem and an ill-fated and ill-considered Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention that made matters worse, encouraged political infighting and has now unravelled completely.
In the aftermath of the 2014/2015 upheavals, several opposition leaders went into self-imposed exile in South Africa claiming their lives were in danger.
However, all returned home at the prospect of unseating the current coalition and regaining lost positions. Lesotho is teetering on the brink of yet another bout of political instability and tensions in the political and security environments in the country pose serious threats to its democracy and continue to risk a military intervention.
The current protagonists don’t inspire confidence and will not put aside petty differences and their overpowering ambitions to forge a government that will focus on the needs of Lesotho’s people, its development and growth.
Mr Thabane and Mr Moleketi are old rivals and the prospects of them working together remain as remote as they have ever been. Meanwhile, it is uncertain that the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) is going to continue to sit on the sidelines and watch politicians play their private games to the continual detriment of the country.
The LDF may have stayed out of politics for almost a decade now, but that is no guarantee the situation is going to hold. Lesotho cannot continue on this path of political elites playing governance musical chairs while on almost every measure the country moves backwards.