KORO-KORO — Member of Parliament (MP) Thabiso Litšiba yesterday dumped the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) and joined the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC).
National Assembly Speaker, Sephiri Motanyane, read out Mr Litšiba’s resignation letter titled Intention to Cross the Floor, and then the drama started in the august house.
“By copy of this letter, I inform you, as Presiding Officer of the National Assembly of Lesotho, of my decision to leave the leading partner of the three-party coalition government, the ABC, and cross to the main opposition DC, with immediate effect.
“I accordingly, kindly request your good self to inform all relevant parties of this decision, and to facilitate its implementation on Monday the 12th of May when parliament resumes sitting,” Mr Litšiba said in the letter.
Before Mr Motanyane could finish reading the letter, the former ABC MP rose from the government gallery, and started moving to the opposition side but was stopped by the speaker who told him to “stop behaving like a misguided missile”.
“Hold your horses; don’t behave like a misguided missile because I will tell you when it’s time to cross over,” Mr Motanyane warned the MP, who promptly sat down.
Eventually, Mr Motanyane finished addressing the house and told the MP he was now free to cross to the side where opposition legislators sit, hence the term floor-crossing.
He then walked to the opposition corner, where he was welcomed by the DC Chief Whip Tele constituency MP, Ndiwuhleli Ndlomose, who then guided him to where party leader, Pakalitha Mosisili, was seated.
Dr Mosisili then grabbed Mr Litšiba’s hand with a huge grin on his face, before hugging him, while the rest of the DC MPs banged their desks in celebration.
The Lesotho Times understands Litšiba is the first MP in Lesotho to cross the floor from a ruling party to the opposition during the life of a parliament. The trend in Lesotho has been for a group of MPs to cross the floor to a political party that is formed in the house, usually towards the end of the life of a parliament. In 2006, 17 MPs crossed the floor from the then ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) with Prime Minister, Dr Thomas Thabane, who had founded the ABC just months before the end of the 6th parliament. The movement prompted the then Prime Minister, Dr Mosisili, to call a snap election which was won by the LCD.
Then in February 2012, Dr Mosisili defected from the LCD to form the DC in the national assembly, accompanied by 44 MPs.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times shortly after his defection to the DC yesterday, Mr Litšiba said his decision to quit the ABC was long overdue.
“My decision to leave the ABC was not a rushed one. It took me a long time to take this decision; it was long overdue.”
According to Mr Litšiba, the ABC was no longer capable of “addressing the people’s needs and changing their lives”.
“To me, the party seemed to be serving the interests of a few individuals, hence I realised that my days were numbered in the party.
“The ABC seems to have lost direction; it is disorganised and no longer run effectively. It is now more like Thabane’s one-man show.”
The MP added by defecting to the DC, he had joined “the most organised party in parliament” and left an organisation “whose leader negotiated a poor deal to join the coalition government”.
“To show we were not organised, the ABC executive committee of my time (before the May 2012 general election) will tell you we were never part of the coalition government negotiations.
“The deal, negotiated by Thabane alone, was so bad that the ABC ended up settling for simple ministries while the LCD landed lucrative ones.
“The LCD took over control of ministries that deal directly with the people and can offer jobs to ordinary citizens, such as Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs, Public Works and Local Government.”
The new DC MP also revealed he held “several” rallies in his Koro-Koro constituency where people had always complained about the lack of service delivery.
Mr Litšiba blamed the slow pace at which major services were being delivered on the LCD led by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who is also the Minister of Local Government “because the government depends on the LCD”.
However, the MP added he was open to the possibility of the DC not fielding him as its candidate in the 2017 parliamentary election because the party’s candidate for the 2012 poll, Refiloe Litjobo had “actually asserted himself as strong contender”.
“Litjobo did very well in the past election but now my intention is to prove that people had elected Litšiba and not the ABC in that constituency; I want to bury the ABC in Koro-koro,” Litšiba said.