There were chaotic scenes at the special sitting of the Maseru City Council as Mayor ‘Mampho Thabane-Libate was toppled in a no confidence vote by fellow councillors. She was replaced by Khubetsoana Councillor Nthabeleng Ntšasa.
Ms Thabane-Libate, who had only been in office for eight months after replacing the ousted Mpho Moloi, was relieved of her duties after 10 out of 19 councillors voted for her dismissal.
She was booted out on allegations of abuse of office, incompetence, misconduct and failure or refusal to implement lawful council decisions.
The 10 councillors who voted for her removal are Mpho Moloi (Maseru Central), Nthabeleng Ntšasa (Khubetsoana), Tlali Lebesa (Thetsane), Thato Khechane (Ha- Leqele), Lebohang Ramathe (Stadium Area), Tholang Sefojane (Motimposo), Thabo Hlehlisi (Lithoteng), Busetsa Khutlisi (Thamae), ‘Mataelo Matsoso (Qoaling) and Hlathe Majara (Khubetsoana).
Ms Thabane-Libate tried desperately to cling on to power and even presented the councillors with a letter from her legal representatives requesting that she be given an additional 14 days to prepare her defence to the allegations levelled against her.
This angered the councillors who booed and heckled her for “bringing an unstamped piece of paper from her relatives to try and stop her removal”.
The unstamped letter dated 18 May was written by Makhoakhoeng Chambers and signed by one Kuena Thabane. It requested a postponement of the meeting whose agenda was the no confidence vote against Ms Thabane-Libate.
“Our client has presented to us a notice of a meeting to be held on 19 May 2021 whose agenda is the removal of the mayor.
“We are further informed that by the client that she only received the notice on 17 May 2021 and she met with us the following day. Given the magnitude of the allegations levelled against her, we humbly request the postponement of the meeting to a date within no less than 14 days of receipt of the notice. This is to allow us to properly consider the matter and be in a position to provide client with due professional help,” the letter states.
There was chaos as the 10 councillors shouted that they would not be guided by a “family letter” to grant Ms Thabane-Libate reprieve. Ms Thabane is said to be related to former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and the law firm representing is said to have taken its name from the Thabane clan name, Makhoakhoeng Chambers. This probably explains why the councillors derisively referred to the law firm’s letter as family letter.
The council session then degenerated into a noisy factional affair as a smaller group asked that Ms Thabane-Libate be given a “fair hearing”.
The majority who were pushing for Ms Thabane-Libate’s ouster also heckled Ms Moloi while she presided over the matter. This forced her to leave the table to the Town Clerk Moeko Maboee.
He was not spared the heckling and accusations of siding with Ms Thabane-Libate.
Mr Maboee briefly adjourned proceedings only to return after being advised by the MCC legal officer Rethabile Mphaka that he had the authority to chair proceedings.
He chided the councillors for their disorderly conduct before asking them to substantiate their allegations against Ms Thabane-Libate.
On the issue of incompetence, the councillors said she had failed to chair the council sessions due to her lack of understanding of basic procedures.
They also accused her of failing to hire people who had been recommended for employment by the councillors.
She was further accused of using an official vehicle without authorisation and damaging it after being involved in an accident. Despite her spirited denials of the charges, the councillors proceeded to boot her out in a no confidence vote.
The councillors, who voted through a show of hands, also chose Khubetsoana Councillor Ntšasa as the new mayor.
In accepting her new responsibility, Ms Ntšasa promised to work for the development of Maseru.
“I accept my new responsibility and I am grateful to all of you. I promise to give my all in the service of this nation,” Councillor Ntšasa said.