Lesotho opposition parties file motion of no confidence against PM Tom Thabane

A successful motion could lead to Thabane leaving office or the collapse of his coalition government and fresh elections.

FILE: Lesotho PM Thomas Motsoahae Thabane at the 37th Southern African Development Community Summit at The OR Tambo Building in Pretoria on 20 August, 2017. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties in Lesotho are planning to file a motion of no confidence against the country’s Prime Minister Tom Thabane.

A successful motion could lead to Thabane leaving office or the collapse of his coalition government and fresh elections.

There has been ongoing infighting in Thabane’s party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), since a disputed elective conference in February. At that conference, Thabane was elected unopposed, but a faction that supports him doesn’t want the winner of the deputy leader position, Professor Nqosa Mahao.

The two factions have been through several court battles in the High Court and the appeal court, and every week they hold separate rallies that have led to further divisions among ordinary members on the ground.

The other issue dividing the party is Thabane’s wife, Maesiah, who regularly oversteps into his constitutional role by going to government offices and instructing ministers and government officials.

Thabane’s coalition government was formed with four parties that occupy 70 of the 120 seats of the National Assembly.

Last week, the assembly voted on whether to suspend an MP of the opposition party Democratic Congress and the opposition won with 49 votes, while the government got 38 votes. Thirty-three MPs were absent.

Analysts said this was a clear sign that the divisions in the party had affected Thabane’s majority in the house of representatives.

Sources in the country’s National Assembly said the motion had not been filed with the Speaker. According to the Constitution, if a prime minister loses a motion of no confidence they can step down or advise the king to dissolve Parliament and call for fresh elections.

MPs of the rival faction in Thabane’s ABC told Eyewitness News that it was possible that they would be convinced to vote against him if the motion was filed.

Lesotho has held elections in 2012, 2015 and 2017 – and on all three occasions, the sitting prime minister had lost a motion of no confidence and chosen to go to elections instead of stepping down.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)