Mabote bounces back in parliament

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MASERU — Former health minister, Tefo Mabote (pictured below), was sworn in as a Member of Parliament on Monday after eight years in the political wilderness.
Mabote is a member of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
He replaces the National Independent Party (NIP)’s ’Mats’otetsi Mpesi who died two weeks ago.
The NIP is in an alliance with the LCD.
Under the terms of the alliance, LCD members who enter parliament through the proportional representation system represent the NIP.
Mabote came second in party elections held in Qeme constituency in the run-up to the 2007 elections.
According to the LCD’s rules, Mabote was the most eligible candidate for appointment to parliament under the PR seats system.
However, the appointment this week still came as a surprise to Mabote.
Mabote’s political career took a knock after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili kicked him out of cabinet in 2001.
Observers say the maverick Mabote has not been popular in the LCD ranks for a long time.
He was relieved of his duties as health minister in 2001 and was replaced by Ponts’o Sekatle who is currently the local government minister.
The reasons for his sacking were never publicised.
However, there was speculation that he was linked to a faction that eventually broke away from the LCD to form the Lesotho People’s Congress led by Kelebone Maope.
He however took political observers by surprise when he refused to cross the floor with Maope in parliament.
His political career then took a huge knock.
From the high position of minister and MP, Mabote tumbled down to the lowest position in a village committee.
At the last LCD general conference in January, Mabote began making a serious political comeback when he was elected as a member of the party’s disciplinary committee.
Having made it back to parliament, Mabote told the Lesotho Times that he was up for the challenge.
“As a back bencher I am faced with the challenge of raising issues that will make our party and government stronger than now.
“The kind of challenges includes how we as the ruling party will make our government more accountable,” Mabote said.
“We have to understand issues (that are) raised by the opposition so that in our caucuses we can seek means of capitalising on their weaknesses.”
Welcoming him in the National Assembly on Monday, Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai said she hoped Mabote would use skills gained in the past for the national good.
Mabote said the invitation to be sworn in as a member of parliament had come as a complete surprise.
He said the clerk of the National Assembly had given him short notice to go to parliament and take the oath of office.
Mabote said the invitation to the swearing in ceremony was so swift that he did not have time to organise himself.
He was not accompanied by his wife at the swearing in.
“I still cannot believe that I left my wife behind when I went to parliament to be sworn in,” Mabote said.

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