MASERU — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane yesterday defended the size of his cabinet saying it merely reflected “our government’s nature”.
Thabane said former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili had missed the point when he compared the sizes of the two governments as they were formed under different circumstances.
“Ntate Mosisili is being unfair to compare the sizes of the two cabinets because this one is the exact reflection of the three parties which came together to form government,” Thabane said.
“There’s a perfectly logical explanation for the size of our cabinet. The number of our ministers is proportionate to the number of parties forming the coalition government.”
After the May 26 election failed to produce an outright winner, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) turned down overtures from the Democratic Congress (DC) but instead cobbled up their votes to form a coalition government.
Although Thabane admitted that his cabinet was indeed big, he said the former premier had raised the issue at the wrong time because “our circumstances are different from his”.
“Yes, I did question the size of Mosisili’s cabinet solely because his party was the ruling party, not a coalition. He also appointed ministers at his own discretion, which is more than we can say for the coalition government,” Thabane said.
“I would understand his question in the event that the ABC was government alone but still repeating that which it condemned before it became government.”
Thabane also denied charges by Mosisili that the size of his cabinet was meant to return favours and was a threat to Lesotho’s economy.
“The size of the cabinet is by no means a way of returning favours. We’re merely setting a platform for acceptance and tolerance among Basotho. It’s also not a threat to Lesotho’s economy,” Thabane said.
However, Thabane added that he hated exchanging cheap shots with Mosisili because “he’s a very senior and respectable person”.
“From the bottom of my heart, let me declare that I hate trading words with Ntate Mosisili because he’s a very senior person in status,” Thabane said.
“I’ve no intention of exchanging silly words with Ntate Mosisili because he was my boss, I worked under him and that makes him very senior to me.”
The premier told this paper that his government was busy pushing for effective service delivery despite complications created by civil servants who had “become used to idling”.
“It’s hard to deliver effectively, although we’re getting there, because of civil servants who were not in the least used to service delivery. But things have changed,” Thabane said.
“We’re now focusing on delivering where it’s possible without harming the public purse and jeorpadising the economy. We’re focusing on the basics to protect the nation and maintain stability after a peaceful election devoid of conflict.”
The premier said the successes government had begun to achieve within its proposed 100-day benchmark included attempts to revive the agricultural sector and rooting out crimes of all nature.
“We’re succeeding and a good example is the operation launched by the police and military to fight stock-theft in the mountains and crime in general,” the premier said.
“All we need is to be given a chance to deliver. We’re not saying the coalition government is a remedy to all illnesses, but we’re saying we can make a great difference in this country, for our people.”