Lesotho PM finally resigns, Majoro takes over
MASERU—Prime minister Thomas Thabane resigned Tuesday morning after losing a long-running power struggle battle to members of his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) national executive committee (NEC).
Current Finance Minister has been appointed next Prime Minister by King Letsie III.
The 80-year-old Thabane has served as prime minister in two stints- from 2012 to 2015 and again from 2017 to 2020. But both stints ended prematurely as he has been pushed out by his opponents allegedly for failing to deliver on electoral promises to initiate socio-economic development. He has also seen his support in the ABC wane due to a year-long power struggle with a faction led by his deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao. His opponents also mobilized against him after revelations by Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli that Thabane and his wife, Maesaiah, are prime suspects in the 14 June 2017 murder of his -estranged wife, Lipolelo. The shocking murder occurred just two days before Thabane was sworn in for his second stint as prime minister.
He had been holding out, saying he wants to go on 31 July but his party rivals had already inked a deal with the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) to form a new government to replace him.
A Monday Council of State meeting advised King Letsie III to swear in Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro on Wednesday. This left Thabane no choice but to leave Tuesday in a historic smooth transfer of power which happened without a no confidence vote and elections.
“I come before you today to announce that the work you assigned me may not be over but the time to retire from the great theater of action, take leave from public life and office has finally arrived,” Thabane said in a televised address Tuesday.
“When I made my voluntary announcement in January this year to retire from office on or before 31 July, I did so with all sincerity because of my full conviction and belief that to everything there is season, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted.
“…I plead with the entire nation and leadership to give my successor utmost support and on my part, I wish to assure him of my support at all material times.”
Thabane’s resignation followed a meeting by the Council of State where it resolved that since the majority of ABC legislators had agreed a deal with the opposition DC to form a new coalition to replace Thabane, it would be best to advise the Head of State King Letsie III to appoint Moeketsi Majoro as the new premier.
“At its sitting on Monday 18 May 2020, the Council of State resolved to advise His Majesty to appoint Dr Moeketsi Majoro to be Prime Minister Designate of the Kingdom of Lesotho to succeed the incumbent Prime Minister Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane,” the King’s Senior Private Secretary Monehela Posholi wrote on Monday.
Majoro is expected to be sworn in at the Royal Palace on Wednesday morning by the King.
He will be Lesotho’s fourth prime minister in 8 years.
Despite his best attempts and requests to Southern African Development SADC) mediators, Thabane leaves without any guarantees from immunity from prosecution for the murder of his estranged wife in 2017. His current wife, ‘Maesaiah, is currently out on R1000 bail while Thabane has a pending Constitutional Court case to stop the courts from trying him for the crime while he remains in office. His retirement and the lack of guarantees from SADC and the incoming government mean that he could well stand trial.
Among Majoro’s immediate tasks will be to pass the budget and revive the moribund economy. Despite registering only one case of Coronavirus, Lesotho’s economy has taken a massive hit due to the global slowdown in economic brought by the virus.