South African, Lesotho Leaders to Discuss Political Crisis

South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to meet with senior officials in Lesotho’s coalition government Tuesday to try to help resolve political disagreements that have created tension and instability in the southern African kingdom, according to Khoabane Theko, Chief Whip of Lesotho’s senate.                                                        

Theko said Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has too much power stipulated in the constitution. But he rejected calls for an amendment that would empower King Letsie III to help resolve political disagreements.

“In our constitution, there is nowhere, where the prime minister is obliged maybe to consult when he does anything with his partner in the coalition. So we still have that problem on the ground,” said Theko. “I don’t want to put the monarchy in danger. I don’t want my king to be beheaded like Charles I in England in the old times.”

Mediation efforts

Theko’s comments came as neighboring South Africa was backed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to act as mediator to find a solution to Lesotho’s political stalemate.  The crisis led to an alleged attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Thabane’s coalition government.

Theko expressed concern that the ongoing political dispute between Prime Minister Thabane and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is creating tension and insecurity for the Basotho people.

“It is very unsettling because nobody is sure what is going to happen. There was an attempted coup … [and] that has made the people very unsettled on our political spectrum,” said Theko. “There is so much uncertainty and of course business is not doing well because … Every time it’s 6 “O’clock in the evening everybody wants to get to his household to make sure that he does not meet a bullet or something like that.”

Increased tension

Some Basotho say Lesotho’s political tension heightened after former army Chief Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli refused to step down when Thabane replaced him with Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao as head of Lesotho Defense Force.                                          

Senate chief whip Theko said the country’s insecurity could be reduced if the dismissed army chief peacefully steps down.

“I must say [the tension] is not settled until Kamoli himself really relinquishes power and maybe make way for… Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao,” said Theko.

Rivals in the coalition government accused Thabane of a power grab after he suspended parliament, allegedly to avoid a vote of no confidence.

Theko said the lack of constitutional provision to address disagreements in a coalition government is to blame for the political stalemate.

He warned that the crisis could worsen if parliament is re-opened only to hold a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Thabane.

“There are a lot of people who are in a hurry so that they can call for a motion of no confidence against the incumbent prime minister, which I think is a very quick fix consolation that cannot help Basotho at all,” said Theko.


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