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Signed, sealed, delivered!!!

  • RFP, AD, MEC  ink coalition deal,
  • Bloated cabinet slashed to 15 ministers only,
  • AD, MEC will have one minister each,
  • While all deputy minister positions have been abolished…

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) have formally signed an agreement to form a three-party governing coalition which promises to dramatically alter the way the country has been governed.

A hallmark of the coalition deal is its slashing of the country’s bloated cabinet to just 15 members including the prime minister and the deputy prime minister with no deputy ministers. The agreement also makes provision for 15 principal secretaries only.  This is expected to go a long way in drastically curtailing the wasteful expenditure by previous coalition governments on their bloated but ineffectual cabinets.

For instance under the previous Thomas Thabane led coalition from June 2017 to May 2020, there were 35 ministers (27 full cabinet ministers and eight deputies).  In that cabinet, there were some inexplicable duplication of roles such as having a minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs and another of Justice, Human Rights and Correctional Services. It was impossible to try and make sense of such superfluous splitting of a portfolio that should simply have gone by as a single Ministry of Justice. The inescapable conclusion was that such splitting of portfolios was a mere jobs for the boys scheme, at great cost to the taxpayer.

Moeketsi Majoro, who took over from Mr Thabane in May 2020 tried to rationalize that by having a sole Ministry of Law and Justice. But he too maintained an unaffordable bloated cabinet of 36 ministers (28 full ministers and eight deputy ministers) deputies.   He too persisted with the jobs for pals philosophy by maintaining his own superfluous splitting of portfolios. For example, Dr Majoro inexplicably maintained a Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conversation and another Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security yet this should have been one portfolio.

Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s unwieldy coalition of seven parties from 2015 to 2017 had 35 ministers (28 ministers and seven deputies).  Before that, the first Thabane coalition which plagued Lesotho from 2012 to 2015 had more than 27 ministers and deputies.

The incoming Sam Matekane coalition will eliminate all the untenable splitting and duplications of portfolios and slim the cabinet to only 15 portfolios including the prime minister and deputy prime minister.  This is the first sure sign that the country will now be led by an astute businessman who understands the value of money and the need to deploy it for productive purposes.

Lesotho’s bloated cabinets have been a perennial drain on the national fiscus as each minister was entitled to lavish perks including two expensive vehicles.  The ministers also wasted resources on ubiquitous superfluous foreign travel from which no clear benefits were drawn. A classic example was that of former cabinet minister Joang Molapo, who once reportedly undertook an overseas trip and returned without even attending a single session of the event he had purportedly travelled for but in the meanwhile having travelled business class and booked a plush hotel.

Equally, deputy ministers have never played any significant role in administrations, other than adding extra mouths to the feeding trough.  They don’t sit in cabinet and are mostly visible only as stand-ins for ministers at ribbon cutting events.


Mr Matekane’s bold decision to drastically slim the cabinet – despite having many people to please who propelled him into power – casts him as a decisive and principled leader.

Mr Matekane and his counterparts, Selibe Mochoboroane (MEC) and Monyane Moleleki (AD) inked their deal in Maseru this week. The new government will assume the reins on Friday next week after the inauguration of Mr Matekane as the new prime minister, RFP secretary general, Nthati Moorosi, confirmed.

Ms Moorosi also confirmed the signing of the coalition deal which ensures that the deputy prime minister comes from the RFP which won a landslide 56 out of 80 constituency seats at the 7 October general elections. This is a first in the history of coalitions in Lesotho. All previous coalition governments since 2012 have had the prime minister and deputy prime minister coming from different parties.

Although Ms Moorosi would not be drawn into commenting on new cabinet appointees, RFP sources have said the incoming coalition will make history with the appointment of the party’s deputy leader, Nthomeng Majara, as the first female deputy prime minister. Ms Majara is also Lesotho’s first ever female chief justice from 2014 to 2019.

The AD and MEC, who are bringing in a combined nine seats to give the incoming coalition a slim majority of 65 seats, have been offered one cabinet portfolio each.

Open Door

The new coalition partners have left the door open for other parties to join them in government. This follows the alleged breakdown of negotiations with other parties like the Socialist Revolutionaries who are said to have made “untenable demands”.

“The partners may agree to invite other parties which are not part of the Agreement into government if such need arises,” the parties state in their agreement.

There shall be a cabinet of not more than 15 cabinet ministers including the prime minister and deputy prime minister.

“The prime minister shall come from the Revolution for Prosperity. The deputy prime minister shall come from the Revolution for Prosperity. The Alliance of Democrats and the Movement for Economic Change shall be allocated one minister each,” the parties state.

The partners emphasise the importance of consultation among the principals to ensure the stability of the coalition. Previous coalitions failed to last the distance amid accusations and counter-accusations of lack of consultation and consensus in decision-making.

To avoid this, the parties have agreed that “where the need to reshuffle cabinet or dismiss a minister arises, there shall be prior consultations between the prime minister and the coalition partners”.

“Agreements in the coalition will normally be made by consensus. Where that fails, the decision will be made by the leader of RFP. The prime minister shall always exercise his constitutional powers in the interest of preserving the stability of the Coalition Government. Consultation shall be presumed to precede every important decision by the prime minister. However, consultation shall not be presumed to mean agreement. Cabinet shall meet regularly and shall be the only forum where government decisions are made on all critical issues and those that are prescribed constitutionally.”

In the preamble, the three parties note that Lesotho has never known peace, stability and meaningful socio-economic development since independence from Britain in 1966. They pledge to change all that through a “coalition for good governance and economic growth”.

“The history of Lesotho’s 56 years of independence has inarguably been a history of political instability, a deteriorating public service and a weak and dwindling economy.

“Poverty, hunger, unemployment and most other negative social and economic indicators are on the rise; accompanied by an alarming increase in crime and despair, especially among the youth. Consequently, there has been increasing doubt both nationally and internationally whether or not Lesotho can stand on her own and govern herself. Attempts at improvement, including the recent reforms programme, have all come to naught.

“The intention of the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Growth is to halt this process of decay and launch Lesotho onto a new trajectory of economic recovery and national development; thereby restoring its dignity, reigniting patriotism and the energy of its people, and renewing trust among its development partners.”

 Clear Objectives

Unlike other previous coalitions which were largely groupings of convenience to gain political power, it seems the Matekane coalition is underpinned by clear objectives to foster good governance, stability and economic growth.

The three parties have in their agreement set out clear objectives “to embrace the principles of good governance, transparency, rule of law, ethical conduct, responsiveness, inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, and accountability.”

They pledge to “make meritocracy the hallmark of government systems and processes; to eliminate corruption, nepotism and cronyism; to deepen democracy as well as increase productivity and enhance economic growth”.

The parties also pledge to depoliticise the civil service and implement the much-delayed multi-sector reforms. The constitutional, security sector, judicial, media and governance reforms were recommended by SADC in 2016. Successive governments had over the years failed to implement them due to bickering between the governing and opposition parties.

The outgoing Moeketsi Majoro-led coalition came closest to implementing the reforms after former Law and Justice minister, Lekhetho Rakuoane, tabled the Reforms Bill in parliament late last year. However, the bill had not been passed by the time the previous parliament was dissolved on 13 July this year by King Letsie III to pave way for the 7 October polls.

Subsequent attempts to pass the reforms were rejected by the Constitutional Court and Court of Appeal which nullified the state of emergency declared in August 2022 to pave the way for the recall of parliament to approve the Reforms Bill. The courts also nullified the constitutional amendments that had been passed by the recalled parliament to give effect to the reforms.


If the incoming coalition’s promises are anything to go by, Lesotho will not have to wait long for the reforms because they have prioritised “the completion of the reforms programme” as soon as they get into office.

Should they be true to their promises, even murders and other violent crimes which have plagued Lesotho in recent years will be a thing of the past. They have vowed to rid the country of crime.

Such is the determination of the incoming government to achieve its objectives that they have even resolved to have an “accountability day” on which the coalition partners shall report back to the public on the performance of the government. This will be done on a quarterly basis.

The coalition partners have also agreed to set up a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit under the Office of the Prime Minister to assess and review the performance of government departments. In addition, they will also establish an Oversight Committee “to ensure the smooth implementation of the coalition agreement”.


Elaborating on the coalition deal, the RFP secretary general, Ms Moorosi,  said meritocracy would become a byword for the new government.

“Meritocracy is our byword. When we talk about government leadership, we focus on meritocracy. That is what we are here for. We must make sure that people who are leading the government processes are qualified,” Ms Moorosi said.

She said a slim cabinet of just 15 ministers would “enable the country to achieve a huge reduction in government spending”. She said trimming the cabinet as well as embarking on a skills audit of civil servants would help foster professionalism and ensure efficient service delivery.

“We can’t just say we have problems in government when we haven’t audited anything. We would have to audit who is there (in the civil service) and what their skills are.

“I can’t say what our meritocracy drive means to people who were employed on a partisan basis but what I know is that we have a clear agenda to rescue the country from the economic decline that we are seeing and we will do all that is necessary to achieve that.

“Reducing the number of ministries is one of those efforts to see that the country’s economy is rescued. And if we have unqualified people in certain jobs, I think we have to get to a point where we have honest discussions with them to see if they can be deployed to other places where they can be more useful. We cannot ignore the crisis that we are in. We’re serious about doing something about it and we’re not compromising on that,” Ms Moorosi said.


She said Mr Matekane would be sworn in next Friday. The process leading up to his swearing in and the inauguration of the new government will begin with the convening of parliament. The Clerk of the National Assembly, Fine Maema, said in a statement this week that members of the new parliament will soon be summoned to the august house for a swearing-in ceremony as well as the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. Although Advocate Maema did not say when this would happen, Ms Moorosi said the new MPs would be sworn in on Tuesday. Barring a clash of planets, the majority of the MPs are expected to nominate Mr Matekane, who commands the majority support in the house, for appointment as prime minister by King Letsie III in line with the constitution.

His elevation to prime minister will complete Mr Matekane’s meteoric rise from very humble beginnings to the pinnacle of business and now the highest political office in the land. His inauguration also marks the first time, since independence from Britain in 1966, a non-career politician has become prime minister.

Analysts have attributed Mr Matekane’s impressive showing to frustration of Basotho with career politicians who have destroyed the country while feathering their own nests.  Still, many have voiced disillusionment that a party that did so well in the constituency contests now have to be forced into a coalition with others. Relooking and re-examining the country’s Mixed Member Proportional Representation System (MMPR) might just have become necessary.