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EFF calls for Lesotho PM Thabane’s immediate resignation

In a statement, the red berets condemned the 80-year old leader’s attempt to suspend the police commissioner and his decisions to suspend parliament and deploy the army.

In this file photo taken on 31 May 2017 Lesotho political party All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Prime Minister Tom Thabane gives an interview to Agence France-Presse at his residence in Maseru. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Monday called on Lesotho’s embattled Prime Minister Tom Thabane to resign immediately.

In a statement, the red berets condemned the 80-year old leader’s attempt to suspend the police commissioner and his decisions to suspend parliament and deploy the army.

All these issues were addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s envoy Jeff Radebe, but the EFF said the first step towards law and order in the kingdom is Thabane’s resignation.

“This suspension was not only done without consultation, but it is one that is not in line with the suspension of all activities in other sectors which amounts to 21-days in Lesotho. He has done this under the guise of combatting COVID-19, including the deployment of the army onto the streets of Lesotho,” EFF national spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said in a statement.

The straight-talking EFF called Thabane a compromised, incompetent, and criminal leader who was acting unilaterally without consulting his party or Parliament.

The party said Thabane should not be allowed to use the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid criminal charges and mounting calls for him to step down.

The EFF said Thabane’s decision to suspend parliament for three months even though the national coronavirus lockdown was only 21 days was a narrow and self-seeking attempt to avoid accountability.

“Thabane fails to appreciate that parliamentarians play a critical role in the fight against the coronavirus, namely oversight, providing aid and ensuring that all aid is provided equally to citizens. Various structures need to be set up such as National Co-ordinating structures comprising of portfolios of parliament to ensure there is a sector-wide response to the impacts of a lockdown. These range from coordination of health, defence, transport, business and home affairs to name but a few.

"To close parliament for three months without consulting all Portfolios that comprise the Parliament of Lesotho and providing a clear way forward is foolishness that places the livelihoods of the people of Lesotho at risk," the EFF said.

Reaction to the statement was mixed, however, some called on the EFF to pressure government to do more than shuttle diplomacy in the kingdom, while others said the red berets should mind their own business.

But one thing was for sure - the EFF has been gaining popularity as more political formations on the continent named themselves after it, including in Lesotho.