THABANE BREATHES FIRE

Threat­ens cab­i­net reshuf­fle to weed out cor­rupt min­is­ters Lam­basts PSS for drunk­en­ness

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Thabane says he has no op­tion but to reshuf­fle his cab­i­net to get rid of “cor­rupt min­is­ters”.

The Prime Min­is­ter has also fired a broad­side at un­named prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries whom he ac­cused of drink­ing heav­ily, ques­tion­ing where they were get­ting the money to splurge on ex­pen­sive al­co­hol to keep them­selves con­stantly ine­bri­ated.

He threat­ened ruth­less ac­tion against such PSS.

Dr Thabane said he had been ob­serv­ing his min­is­ters and was bad­gered by the fail­ure of some in his cab­i­net to up­hold the prin­ci­ples of good gov­er­nance on which he based his cam­paign.

Dr Thabane’s threat of a cab­i­net reshuf­fle- the sec­ond such in less than two months- was made at a rally early this week in Mal­imong #22 con­stituency in the Berea dis­trict.

Dr Thabane came to power in the af­ter­math of the 3 June 2017 snap elec­tions at the head of a four party coali­tion which com­prises of his All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), the Al­liance of Democrats (AD), Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL).

He waged a suc­cess­ful elec­tion cam­paign that was premised on the pledge to tackle en­demic cor­rup­tion in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor in the coun­try. Af­ter as­sum­ing power, he pub­licly stated that cor­rup­tion would not be tol­er­ated and vowed to bring of­fend­ing min­is­ters and other pub­lic of­fi­cials to book.

And on Sun­day in Mal­imong, Dr Thabane re­it­er­ated that cor­rup­tion re­mained a per­sis­tent prob­lem, say­ing he would not hes­i­tate to use his pow­ers to rid gov­ern­ment of the bad ap­ples.

He said he had ob­served over a pe­riod of time a trend wherein some of the min­is­ters in­volved them­selves in cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties par­tic­u­larly in the award­ing of ten­ders. This did not re­flect well on the gov­ern­ment, he said.

He said he had en­gaged his coali­tion part­ners on the is­sue of graft and there was a con­sen­sus that it should not be tol­er­ated.

“I have been watch­ing (the cor­rup­tion) in si­lence but I had to ob­serve care­fully lest I judge hastily,” Dr Thabane said.

“I have ob­served with sad­ness that some min­is­ters within the ABC are be­gin­ning to take in­ter­est in these cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties and I have de­cided to act be­fore it gets out of hand. I have no other choice but to reshuf­fle.

“I loathe any­one who in­dulges in such ac­tiv­i­ties be it the giver of the bribe or the one who is bribed be­cause I won the elec­tions with one of my cam­paign key mes­sages be­ing the fight against cor­rup­tion.

“Ap­point­ing min­is­ters is one of the pow­ers vested in me and it is not al­ways an easy thing to later reshuf­fle min­is­ters. But when you are in my po­si­tion it is some­thing that you com­mit to do be­cause you would have ac­cepted to lead.”

Dr Thabane also warned min­is­ters to cut back on for­eign trav­els to avoid wast­ing money on un­nec­es­sary trips. He would not hes­i­tate to in­tro­duce tough mea­sures to con­strict un­nec­es­sary for­eign trips.

“Air­planes are not taxi cabs, they are very costly and start­ing now I am go­ing to dis­ap­prove of trips which I feel are not nec­es­sary. If at all you feel that I may dis­ap­prove of your trip even be­fore you re­quest, don’t even bother come to me,” Dr Thabane warned.

His call for the re­duc­tion in for­eign trips echoes that of Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Moeketsi Ma­joro, who made it abun­dantly clear in his maiden 2017/18 bud­get in July 2017 that Le­sotho must save money for in­vest­ment into pro­duc­tive sec­tors to boost eco­nomic growth and job cre­ation.

Speak­ing at the time, Dr Ma­joro said cab­i­net min­is­ters should cut back on for­eign trips, dras­ti­cally re­duce their bloated del­e­ga­tions and forego first class travel.

He said he had for­mu­lated the pro­posed bud­get against the back­ground of ex­tremely chal­leng­ing global, re­gional and lo­cal con­di­tions which ne­ces­si­tated cost-cut­ting mea­sures across the board in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture as it re­lated to min­is­ters’ ex­penses.

The bud­get speech was de­liv­ered un­der the theme ‘Pur­su­ing fis­cal sus­tain­abil­ity within the con­text of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity and in­se­cu­rity’.

Among other mea­sures aimed at re­duc­ing ex­pen­di­ture, “min­is­ters and equiv­a­lent ranks would no longer fly first class”.

“Min­is­ters will no longer travel for more than seven days with­out the ex­press per­mis­sion of the Prime Min­is­ter based on elab­o­rate jus­ti­fi­ca­tion,” Dr Ma­joro said, adding that min­is­ters had to re­duce the size of their del­e­ga­tions to in­ter­na­tional meet­ings to just the op­ti­mum num­bers nec­es­sary for them to per­form their du­ties ef­fec­tively.

Dr Thabane also at­tacked some prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries for drunk­en­ness, say­ing, “I have also noted with con­cern and shame how some of you prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries drink heav­ily”.

“One wonders where you get all that mon- ey that you spend so ex­trav­a­gantly on al­co­hol. I there­fore urge you to stop this be­hav­iour or else I shall have to deal with you.”

Dr Thabane also railed at some ABC leg­is­la­tors and min­is­ters, ac­cus­ing them of hold­ing se­cret meet­ings with the party’s for­mer deputy leader, Tlali Khasu.

“I have noted that there are some min­is­ters who are busy hav­ing cau­cus meet­ings ini­ti­ated by the for­mer deputy of this party and I urge those meet­ings to stop forth­with be­cause the per­son be­hind them is no longer with us. He has fol­lowed his heart and his va­cancy shall be ap­pro­pri­ately filled by party cadres at a con­fer­ence.”

Mr Khasu left the ABC on 17 Septem­ber 2016 af­ter be­ing sus­pended for three months for al­legedly cas­ti­gat­ing Dr Thabane dur­ing a ra­dio pro­gramme.

Mr Khasu sub­se­quently formed the True Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Unity (TRU) in Jan­uary 2017 to­gether with an­other for­mer ABC stal­wart, Pitso Maisa.

Dr Thabane’s at­tacks on party mem­bers and threats to reshuf­fle the cab­i­net are the sec­ond such in the space of less than two months.

Last Novem­ber, Dr Thabane told a party rally in Hlotse that his ABC had been in­fil­trated by “en­e­mies who have come to con- fuse us”.

He said the en­e­mies were spread­ing ma­li­cious ru­mours about the of­fice of the First Lady, ’Mae­sa­iah Thabane and its role in as­sist­ing vul­ner­a­ble vil­lagers. He also threat­ened at the time to reshuf­fle his cab­i­net.

He spoke at a time when so­cial me­dia was awash with com­plaints from peo­ple who claimed to be ABC sup­port­ers who ac­cused his wife of “cap­tur­ing the gov­ern­ment”.

They com­plained that Dr Thabane had al­lowed ’Mae­sa­iah to run the gov­ern­ment through what they termed a “bed­room coup”.

Mean­while, Mal­imong leg­is­la­tor, Mr Leshoboro Mohla­joa, took ad­van­tage of the Sun­day rally to re­as­sure Dr Thabane of the full sup­port of the Berea mem­bers of par­lia­ment and vot­ers.

The assurance put to rest ear­lier spec­u­la­tion that leg­is­la­tors from the dis­trict were not happy with the fact that only one of their num­ber was ap­pointed to a min­is­te­rial po­si­tion last June de­spite the fact that the dis­trict had given the ABC its sec­ond big­gest area elec­toral win with nine seats out of the 11 con­tested in last year’s na­tional polls.

The ABC won the most seats in Maseru with 15 seats out of the 18 con­tested in the dis­trict. The ABC gar­nered a to­tal of 48 seats, while the AD won nine, BNP five and RCL one.

ABC leg­is­la­tor for Kha­fung #23 con­stituency in Berea con­stituency, Habo­fa­noe Le­hana, was sub­se­quently ap­pointed Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Chief­tain­ship Af­fairs min­is­ter- a de­vel­op­ment which re­port­edly riled the leg­is­la­tors in the con­stituency who felt they de­served more ap­point­ments for their suc­cess and loy­alty to the party.

The other Berea leg­is­la­tors are Fako Moshoeshoe (Mabote), Litšoane Litšoane (Bela-bela), Likopo Ma­hase (Khu­bet­soana), Mohla­joa (Mal­imong), Mot­latsi Maqelepo (Berea), Hlome­lang Lefu (Makhoarane), Sa­muel Ra­papa (Mos­ale­mane) and Tšoeu Molise (Tšoana-makhulo).

The dis­con­tent was laid bare by an au­dio clip that cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia net­works af­ter the elec­tions in which an uniden­ti­fied woman — claim­ing to be a mem­ber of the ABC’S Berea elec­tion com­mit­tee — claimed party sup­port­ers in the dis­trict had con­vened a meet­ing with their leg­is­la­tors to voice their con­cerns at the lack of more min­is­te­rial ap­point­ments.

“We dis­cussed the fact that our leg­is­la­tors were not ap­pointed to more min­is­te­rial po­si­tions and we made a de­ci­sion to de­fect to the Demo­cratic Congress,” the woman says in the clip.

“We need to make Ntate Tom (Thabane) see that we are not fools. It’s un­fair that he did not re­ward our loy­alty and de­ci­sion to stick with the party through thick and thin.”

How­ever, any lin­ger­ing doubts about the leg­is­la­tors’ loy­alty to the party were put to rest on Sun­day when Mr Mohla­joa moved to re­as­sure Dr Thabane.

“I would like to as­sure that there is no one else but you (Dr Thabane). You have the full sup­port of this dis­trict,” Mr Mohla­joa said.

He said un­em­ploy­ment and poor in­fra­struc­ture topped the list of chal­lenges in the dis­trict and called on the gov­ern­ment to build at least three fac­to­ries to cre­ate 3000 jobs in the dis­trict.

I have ob­served with sad­ness that some min­is­ters within the ABC are be­gin­ning to take in­ter­est in these cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties and I have de­cided to act be­fore it gets out of hand. I have no other choice but to reshuf­fle

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Thabane

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Thabane.

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