Main opposition leader Thomas Thabane had won the most seats in Lesotho’s general elections, clinching 48 of the 80 directly contested constituencies by last night. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Main opposition leader Thomas Thabane had won the most seats in Lesotho’s general elections, clinching 48 of the 80 directly contested constituencies by last night. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

What next for Lesotho after Prime Minister Tom Thabane's resignation?

By Ayanda Mdluli Time of article published Feb 4, 2020

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The kingdom of Lesotho, landlocked within the borders of South Africa, currently finds itself at a precipice following the announcement that the nation’s current prime minister, Tom Thabane, 80, is stepping down from his position. 

The last few months preceding Thabane’s incapacitation and subsequent resignation have been marred by controversies surrounding his wife Maesaiah and the murder of his ex-wife Lipolelo.  

Thabane said he was retiring due to old age, but speculation is rife that the arrest warranted issued against Maesaiah, who has been on the run to avoid prosecution, is the real reason behind his stepping down. Reports on Tuesday said she was set to be arrested over the killing of Lipolelo. 

In the previous election, Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Moleki's Alliance of Democrats (AD) reached a power sharing agreement where both parties retained its old seats.

Sources with knowledge of the current behind-the-scenes negotiations say it is a very sensitive process, partly because no one party can be seen as aggressively pushing to take over political power.

The country’s constitution states that once the prime minister is incapacitated, the deputy must take over. 

This is a largely supported view from some quarters who are calling for the deputy prime minister Monyane Moleleki to take over Thabane in a bid to ensure that there is political stability, the question on everyone’s lips is, who is Moleleki and what is he bringing to the nation in the current highly protracted economic climate.

Who is Monyane Moleleki and what does he bring to the table?

A seasoned politician and academic, Moleleki 69, was born on January 5, 1951. He held various ministerial portfolios in the country beginning in the 1990s. He is also a former journalist and editor in the African media space. 

Additionally, Moleleki possesses an Honorary Doctorate in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Geneva School of International Relations and Diplomacy

Playing a prominent leadership role in various political parties in Lesotho from the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Democratic Congress (DC) and now Alliance of Democrats (AD), Moleleki was Minister of Natural Resources from 1993 to 1994, Minister of Information from 1996 to 1998, Minister of Natural Resources from 1998 to 2004, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2007, and Minister of Natural Resources from 2007 to 2012. 

From 2012 to 2015, he was the leader of the official opposition in the Lesotho Parliament.

After breaking with the LCD, Moleleki has served as Deputy Leader of the DC, and he has been Minister of Police in 2016.

In late 2016, he was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, a position from which he immediately resigned and formed his new Political Party Alliance of Democrats (AD).

He is currently the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho in the third coalition government of four parties led by All Basotho Convention (ABC) under Thabane. 

Currently, he is a member of the 10th Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho. 

Is he the right man for the job? 

Those close to him describe him as pragmatic and eager to implement economic reforms that will help reduce poverty in a highly challenging economic environment. How Lesotho deals with the current negotiations will determine the direction the country is set to take; only time will tell.

Political Bureau

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