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No coalition deal with ABC despite meeting: RFP

Sunday Express is Lesotho's only Sunday newspaper. News: editor@sundayexpress.co.ls | Advertising: marketing@lestimes.co.ls Telephone: +266 2231 5356

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) has vehemently denied claims by the All Basotho Convention (ABC) that it is in talks to add the latter into a coalition deal it has already concluded with two other parties.

ABC spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, said his party had agreed to join the government after being approached by the RFP earlier last week. But the RFP insists that is not the case.   It had only met with the ABC to discuss ways of working together to pass reforms and any other legislation needing a two thirds majority.

RFP deputy spokesperson, Thabo Maretlane, told the Sunday Express the incoming government would still be a tripartite arrangement of the RFP, the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) as announced on Tuesday by the leaders of the three parties.

Mr Maretlane said although the ABC leadership had met with RFP leader, Sam Matekane, on Tuesday, there was no agreement to bring the ABC into government.

“The coalition remains between us, the MEC and AD,” Mr Maretlane said, adding, “the ABC and other parties will remain in the opposition but they are welcome to support us when doing business in parliament without any strings attached”.

The RFP posted a stunning electoral win to grab 56 out of 120 constituency  seats.  Unfortunately for the party, it was unable to secure any of the 40 seats on offer in the proportional representation (PR) system which is more about rewarding parties that would have performed poorly in the constituencies. As a result, the RFP agonisingly fell five seats shy of achieving an outright victory to govern alone.

The six month-old RFP subsequently wasted no time in cobbling a coalition with the Monyane Moleleki-led AD and the Selibe Mochoboroane-led MEC. The latter two parties brought in a combined nine seats to give the  RFP 65 seats to form government.

Due to this small majority, there has been widespread speculation that the RFP would seek to bolster its numbers by  continuing to court other parties to join it in government including Professor Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (six PR seats) and the ABC which lost in all 80 constituencies and only secured  eight  PR seats.

The RFP seemingly gave credence to the speculation by issuing a statement   (WHEN WAS THIS STATEMENT ISSUED ) wherein it said, “The RFP door is open to anyone who is willing to join us towards this revolution”.

“In as much as the RFP was given a resounding mandate, the party is open to working with anyone and everyone who shares its values, aspirations and desire to positively transform Lesotho. In welcoming allies, the RFP seeks to usher in a democratic order that exemplifies selfless leadership, diligent service, patriotic duty, inclusiveness, meritocracy and tolerance. The party remains cognisant of the fact that the challenges facing the country require all hands to be on deck, and in that spirit, the RFP door is open to anyone who is willing to join us towards this revolution.”

The ABC subsequently said that it had agreed to join the incoming government. Its spokesman, Mr Masoetsa, said  his party had agreed to join the government after being approached by the RFP.

“They (RFP) approached us on Sunday and our leader (Nkaku Kabi) convened a special seating of the national executive committee (NEC) where it was agreed that we should be part of the government,” Mr Masoetsa said.

“We don’t have a problem with whatever we are offered. All that we want is the passing of the reforms bill. We also want a clear working strategy and work plan (from the RFP),” Mr Masoetsa said.

However, Mr Maretlane, denied the claims as “mere propaganda”. He said there was no special arrangement with the ABC and all that his party wanted from the former ruling party was support in parliament for the passing of crucial laws.

“People just don’t get tired of propaganda; they just don’t want peace at all hence they are making all these claims,” Mr Maretlane told the Sunday Express.

“The relationship between the RFP and the ABC is nothing special. It is just an agreement that the two will work together when there are laws that need to be passed in the august house.

“We don’t have any special working arrangement with the ABC and we have not offered them anything, not even a single ministerial seat. That’s the case with all other parties like the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, HOPE and others.

“The electorate has spoken and we all know what they want. It would therefore defy logic if we were to incorporate the ABC in government. All that we have agreed is that they will support us to pass legislation that requires a two thirds majority.

“The ABC is not part of government but just an ally and nothing more,” Mr Maretlane said.

Professor Nqosa Mahao of the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has since rejected information that his party was approached by the RFP for a coalition but dropped after it made “unreasonable” demands including that Prof Mahao becomes deputy prime minister and gets allocated five special ministries. Prof Mahao told the media last week there hadn’t been any talks between the RFP and the BAP.

The Sunday Express however understands that Mr Matekane intends to meet as many parties in parliament to lobby for the swift passage of the reforms bill that is still pending after its initial passage was nullified by the Constitutional Court. He wants the reforms bill passed as soon as possible after parliament opens as it is critical to his own agenda to bring stability and prosperity to Lesotho.