Africa-Press – Lesotho. THE cracks in the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party widened this week after three of its MPs openly voted with the opposition in parliament.
The Lithoteng MP, Rethabile Letlailana, Matlakeng constituency’s Dr Mahali Phamotse and the Abia MP, Thuso Makhalanyane, on Tuesday voted against their own government during a key vote.
The fourth MP who voted against the government is the United for Change (UFC)’s Tota Mohlominyane, whose party had initially pledged to back the government in parliament.
Parliament was voting to determine whether the Leader of the House, Justice Nthomeng Majara, should proceed to table an amended Omnibus Bill or wait for the outcome of a High Court case challenging the Bill.
The vote was also on the parliamentary standing orders that, if passed, would allow the government side to pass the Omnibus Bill in a form it wanted and at a time that suited it. The opposition has accused the government of cherry-picking certain sections of the Bill that it wants passed.
Speaking to thepost earlier this week, Makhalanyane said he was not going to vote with the government because he believed that “they want to pick Bills in which they have interests and leave others”.
Dr Phamotse said her “voting against the government should not be a surprise because during last year’s general elections, we told people that we are going to be the party that does things in a different way”.
“I do not see why our party should be stuck with the party line issue,” she said.
“I was against the passing of the standing orders because my understanding is that we should start with passing the Bill before jumping to the standing orders.
” The government won the vote, however, with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The government’s narrow victory in parliament came a day after Makhalanyane and the Thaba Moea MP, Lejone Puseletso, were arrested on Monday and kept for hours at the police headquarters following brawl between their bodyguards and a cop over a traffic offence.
Makhalanyane and Puseletso said they were targeted by the police because their party was aware of their position regarding the proposed passing of the Omnibus Bill in its present form. Speaking over the weekend, Communications Minister Nthati Moorosi, said some people were “spreading lies that some MPs are targeted for elimination”.
Moorosi, who is also the RFP’s secretary general, said the government was aware of the “unfounded lies that it is bribing some MPs not to have a vote of no confidence against it in parliament”.
“These acts of malice are meant to destabilise this country and to chase away investors,” Moorosi said.
“Those who are behind this should stop it instantly,” she said.
“It is unlawful”. Moorosi said the government would “not hesitate to take legal steps against those in the wrong”.
Asked if the arrest of Makhalanyane and Puseletso could be linked to her Sunday speech, Moorosi said the two are not related. “The Commissioner of Police has clarified the issue of the arrest of the two MPs,” she said.
The discord in the RFP comes a week after Dr Phamotse and Makhalanyane claimed that there was a plot to assassinate them. They accused the Thaba-Bosiu MP Joseph Malebaleba of plotting to assassinate them, a charge Malebaleba has dismissed as false.
Matekane last weekend expressed fears that the infighting within the RFP will hurt the party’s chances of victory in local government elections slated for September 29.
He pleaded with those who planned to stand as independent candidates to withdraw from the election “for the sake of the party”. Matekane warned party members that standing as independent candidates will split the RFP votes into two and give the opposition a chance to win.
“That will not benefit our party,” Matekane said. He pleaded with all the members to be patient with each other at all times and “allow those who are chosen to contest”.
“Let us support each other so that we obtain enough numbers to give us a chance to serve our people,” he said.
“It would not be an act of stupidity to withdraw for the sake of Lesotho.