By Colleta Dewa
Johannesburg – Opposition parties in Lesotho are planning to file a motion of no confidence against the country’s Prime Minister Tom Thabane, reports from that country say.
A successful motion could lead to Thabane leaving office or the collapse of his coalition government, paving the way for fresh elections.
There has been ongoing infighting in Thabane’s party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), since a disputed elective conference in February.
At that conference, Thabane was elected unopposed, but a faction that supports him does not want the winner of the deputy leader position, Professor Nqosa Mahao.
The two factions have been through several court battles in the High Court and the appeal court, and every week they hold separate rallies that have led to further divisions among ordinary members on the ground.
Analysts said this was a clear sign that the divisions in the party had affected Thabane’s majority in the house of representatives.
Sources in the country’s National Assembly said the motion had not been filed with the Speaker.
According to the Constitution, if a prime minister loses a motion of no confidence they can step down or advise the king to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.
Lesotho has held elections in 2012, 2015 and 2017 – and on all three occasions, the sitting prime minister had lost a motion of no confidence and chosen to go to elections instead of stepping down.
Meanwhile, a row has erupted between the government of Lesotho and wool and mohair farmers following reports of an anthrax outbreak in that country which has resulted in the ban of most Lesotho products by countries like South Africa.
Farmers allege that their government is faking the anthrax outbreak to discourage markets from buying their produce and once again force them to sell through a Chinese-owned broker who’s struggling to pay them.
"We got information that government is faking an outbreak that will scare off the international community to allow our commodities because we won a case against them that would have given us the rights to export our produce and bypass the Chinese broker,” said one of the farmers.
However, the appeal court on Friday overturned that ruling meaning the disputed regulations remain in place.
The claims by the farmers were, however, dismissed by the government after confirmation that a rapid response team has since responded to the outbreak.
The team, according to the government, comprised of experts from the Disease Control Unit, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and epidemiologists who swiftly moved to contain the disease.
Agriculture minister Mahala Molapo confirmed that people who consumed the infected animals were being treated, adding that the country was on track to containing the disease.
“Our main focus is treating those who ate the infected animals and how to properly bury the carcasses.
We are also testing water sources in the area,” said the minister.