Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is mulling downsizing his cabinet soon after tomorrow’s dissolution of parliament, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
A highly-placed source yesterday told the Lesotho Times that a gazette to announce the shakeup was “already in the works”, but was reluctant to reveal the names of the ministers to be affected by the planned restructuring.
Dr Thabane would head a caretaker government after tomorrow’s dissolution of the legislature until a new administration is installed after the February 2015 snap election.
The All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader currently heads a coalition government which also comprises the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane, respectively.
The three parties, which formed government after the 26 May 2012 election had produced a hung parliament, share 23 ministries according to their number of seats in the National Assembly. However, after failing to resolve their differences prompted by Dr Thabane’s alleged failure to consult his fellow leaders when making key governance decisions, parliament had to be dissolved and a new election called. The dissolution, which was facilitated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), takes place tomorrow, paving the way for a three-month caretaker government to be led by Dr Thabane.
“It’s only natural for the prime minister to reshuffle his cabinet during the transitional period and there’s nothing wrong with it,” the source said, adding the new-look cabinet is expected to be unveiled next week “barring unforeseen complications”.
Another impeccable source told the Lesotho Times that Dr Thabane had allegedly planned to reshuffle his cabinet tomorrow but was advised by Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa “to wait until next week”.
“Ramaphosa was here this week and learnt that Thabane planned to reshuffle cabinet, and was not in the least impressed,” the source said.
“The South African Deputy President left strict instructions that no major decisions should be made until he returns to Lesotho on Tuesday next week. When he returns, Ramaphosa is expected to discuss with Thabane how the government should operate leading to the election, and this reshuffle which is expected to see almost half the ministers being fired.”
Contacted for comment, Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka, said he had heard the “rumors” but was not aware of a planned cabinet reshuffle. However, Mr Mphaka said if the reshuffled happened “it would be nothing out of the ordinary”.
“As far as I know, there are no plans to reshuffle cabinet, but the PM can advice the King to reduce it if there is need,” Mr Mphaka said.
“The prime minister, as the head of the incoming caretaker government, can reshuffle or downsize his cabinet because he remains PM as per the constitution.”
Asked if the PM would make decisions alone or in consultation with his coalition government partners, Mr Mphaka said nothing could stop Dr Thabane from making decisions “because he is PM under the constitution”.
“The country’s constitution will always supersede any subordinate law and the PM’s powers cannot be altered until such a time that it is done by way of constitutional amendment,” Mr Mphaka said.
Meanwhile, local lawyer Advocate Tekane Maqakachane, yesterday told the Lesotho Times that if Dr Thabane was indeed contemplating a cabinet reshuffle “there would be nothing wrong with it”.
“According to the constitution, he remains the head of government even within the context of a caretaker government,” Advocate Maqakachane said.
“It’s his prerogative to appoint and remove ministers during this period. That right is not taken away by the fact that we’re in a transitional phase.”