Ramaphosa expected to visit troubled Lesotho this week
Although the president’s visit is routine, he might find himself returning to his role as long time Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator in the kingdom.
JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to visit the troubled Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho in his capacity as chairperson of the Southern African Customs Union.
Although the president’s visit is routine, he might find himself returning to his role as longtime Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator in the kingdom.
Ramaphosa has appointed retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke whose efforts are continuously frustrated by the ongoing uncertainty in Lesotho.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko has confirmed that Ramaphosa will be in Lesotho on Thursday.
The president’s visit comes a week after Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane was suspended by the national executive of his party All Basotho Convention (ABC), that Thabane earlier said he had expelled.
That battle for control of the governing party has seen chiefs of the army, police and intelligence warning the factions against deploying illegal militias after armed men in balaclavas stormed the party offices in a busy complex in the capital Maseru.
President Ramaphosa is expected to pay a courtesy call on King Letsie III, who has no executive powers but in the past, has requested South Africa’s political mediation when the country was unstable.
CALL TO STEP DOWN
Members of Parliament of ABC party have given him an ultimatum to step down as party leader or be recalled.
In a joint statement, the MPs threatened to take legal action to reopen Parliament and table a motion of no confidence in Thabane if he doesn’t step aside.
• Chaos as 5 NEC members of Lesotho’s ABC expelled
His long-time confidante and influential chief Khoabane Theko had called on Thabane to step down for allowing his wife, the first lady, to exercise constitutional powers by ordering ministers around.
Following a bruising battle for control of the party’s national executive committee that Thabane and his faction lost in court, his MPs also want him to step down.
But the prime minister came out on Wednesday making bold pronouncements to create jobs and withdraw wool and mohair regulations that had seen farmers protesting for months.
But even if he steps down as party leader, as he is also an elected MP, only a vote of the National Assembly can remove him as prime minister.
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)