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Mokhothu breathes fire over cabinet’s parly no-show

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Bongiwe Zihlangu/ ‘Marafaele Mohloboli

FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu has criticised Prime Minister Sam Matekane and his cabinet for failing to attend parliament due to a prolonged cabinet sitting on Tuesday.

The Democratic Congress (DC) leader, who is also Official Leader of Opposition in Parliament, said it was unheard of for ministers to miss a parliamentary session because of a cabinet meeting. He said the development was a clear indication that “they (Matekane and his cabinet) are inexperienced”.

“We know that cabinet meetings are held on Tuesdays,” Mr Mokhothu said in parliament on Tuesday.

“It’s Tuesday today and I realise that there are no ministers in attendance. If there was cohesion between this august house and the executive, the cabinet would have informed this house that they would not be able to attend.

“It might happen that MPs have questions to ask the executive and they would be unable to ask if there isn’t a single minister to respond on the government’s behalf.”

Mr Mokhothu doubled down on his comments in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday. He said “sheer inexperience” was the only explanation for the no-show of the new cabinet which was sworn in last month in the aftermath of the 7 October 2022 elections which were resoundingly won by Mr Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP party. The majority of the ministers, including the premier himself, had never been in cabinet before.

“All the cabinet ministers were not present in parliament yesterday (Tuesday). It has never happened. I had to call them to order. Cabinet meets on Tuesday but it must always wrap up its sessions by 2:30pm to enable ministers to attend parliamentary proceedings in the afternoon. Their (ministers’) behaviour is an indication that they are inexperienced,” Mr Mokhothu said.

However, Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Nthati Moorosi, said Mr Mokhothu’s claims were not entirely correct.

She said as soon as they realised that the cabinet meeting would take longer than expected due to pressing issues that needed to be discussed, they instructed the RFP’s Chief Whip, Thuso Makhalayane, to inform the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tlohang Sekhamane, that the ministers would not be able to make it to parliament.

“The truth of the matter is that we (cabinet) had a lot on our plate given that we still have to expedite the reforms process. We even called some people who had worked on the reforms to come and bring us to speed.

“We also communicated our absence by writing to the Speaker via our chief whip. We can’t just wake up in the morning and decide to bunk parliament. It’s not about inexperience,” Ms Moorosi said.