MEC makes demands on new govt

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Movement for Economic Change (MEC) says it can only join the incoming four parties’ coalition government on condition it is treated as the third most senior party ahead of the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) on the basis of the number of parliamentary seats each party garnered in the recent snap national elections.

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane is the Prime Minister-elect after his party emerged the biggest winner in the snap polls on 3 June that were held in the aftermath of the 1 March no confidence vote that was passed by the then-opposition on the seven parties’ coalition government headed by Pakalitha Mosisili.

ABC garnered 47 constituency seats and one proportional representation (PR) seat, bringing their total to 48. The ABC also won three constituencies in which the candidates died before the elections.

The ABC subsequently combined its 48 seats with the AD’s nine, BNP’s five and the RCL’s one, enabling them to pass the 61-seat threshold required to form government in the 120-seat National Assembly.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mosisili’s Democratic Congress obtained 26 constituency seats and four PR seats and outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy obtained one constituency seat and 10 PR seats.

However, there have been warnings that the ABC-led coalition government was fragile as it only had two seats more than the threshold to form government.

Dr Thabane’s previous administration collapsed in 2015 after flow crossings eroded his majority in parliament and recently there have been some schools of thought suggesting that the incoming government needs to approach the Selibe Mochoboroane-led MEC to join them and thus add more stability.

MEC bagged six parliamentary seats, one more than those of the BNP and their presence in the coalition would bring the coalition’s parliamentary seats to 68.

Last week, Dr Thabane addressed a press conference where he also declared his willingness to work with other political parties as long as they shared “the goal of a peaceful and well governed Lesotho” as a first step towards the reunification of Basotho.

Recently an audio recording believed to be that of MEC youth league leader Lepeli Molumaela went viral, revealing plans of a MEC leadership meeting tomorrow evening in the wake of the party’s failure to form government after the polls.

“As your representative in the MEC executive committee, I met with the committee at the home of our leader and the main issue we discussed was the next step to take given the current situation,” the recording stated.

It was further stated that the purported meeting agreed that MEC would not go out of its way to approach the new government. The audio also alleged that some ABC members had approached the MEC leader before the elections, proposing to form government with MEC.

For his part, Mr Mochoboroane allegedly stated that he was open to the idea and he would wait for the outcome of the elections.

However, ABC negotiators allegedly returned afterwards to inform the MEC leadership that Dr Thabane’s wife had opposed any coalition with MEC on the grounds that Mr Mochoboroane was “unruly”.

“Other MEC members were of the opinion that MEC should overlook ‘M’e Liabiloe’s issue (Dr Thabane’s wife) and approach the ABC and the nationalists but the majority decided not to beg they would not respect us.

“We reached a census that MEC maintains its position of being on the cross bench in parliament and that we will vote with government or opposition where we deem necessary,” the audio stated.

“It is not a secret that the nationalist government is not stable.

“ABC and the nationalists think they are going to win the three remaining constituency seats but even if they do so to gain a total of 66 seats, they will still need MEC’s six seats.”

The audio stated that MEC resolved to wait for the coalition to approach them, in which case MEC would demand to be treated as senior to BNP and RCL in the coalition hierarchy.

“For instance, the hierarchy in terms of seniority will be Ntate Thabane with more seats, then AD followed by MEC.

“However, based on their code of conduct, they might want to make sure that ‘Maseribane comes before us when it comes to issues of benefits and awarding of ministries.

“Our leader made it clear that he will not accept this and will take his 5+1 seats and maintain his cross bench position in parliament,” the audio stated.

Mr Molumaela initially denied any knowledge of the audio but declined to discuss it after it was presented to him by this reporter.

“Oh this one I know,” he said after receiving the audio, adding, “can I not comment on this matter.”

For his part, ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele referred the matter to his party’s youth league leader Mphonyane Lebesa for comment.

However, Mr Lebesa was not reachable on his mobile phone.

BNP youth league leader ‘Machere Seutloali said it was unfortunate that the MEC youth league president would make such unfounded allegations.

“My leaders don’t have an interest in forming government with MEC and you are much aware that the 2012 government had 61 seats and the 2015 government had 65 seats and still managed to pass laws in parliament,” Ms Seutloali said.

While conceding that her superiors were best placed to respond to the allegations, Ms Seutloali said they would not join forces with MEC just for the sake of “numbers”.

“We can’t form government with people whose policies don’t gel with ours just so we can increase numbers,” she said.

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