By Staff Writers
Maseru, Oct 3 (The Night’s Watch) – Former All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s National Chairperson Motlohi Maliehe, who last year emerged as a strong critic of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government, has regained his Cabinet post.
In a shock announcement on Thursday morning, the office of the Government Secretary (GS) Moahloli Mphaka announced another cabinet reshuffle less than 10 months after Thabane made changes to his executive.
This is the fifth Cabinet reshuffle Thabane has effected since he assumed office in June 2017.
Maliehe has been appointed Minister of Social Development. He replaces ‘Matebatso Doti, the ABC Member of Parliament (MP) who was expelled this year allegedly because of her open support for Professor Nqosa Mahao.
Mahao is a learned former Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) who won the ABC’s deputy president position in February against Thabane’s wishes.
In 2018, while he was still Minister of Tourism, Maliehe communicated his displeasure with how Thabane had allegedly allowed his wife ‘Maesaiah to conflate the bedroom and the state arguing that the First Lady was meddling in government processes, systems and functions.
He also lambasted Thabane when he said the Prime Minister fired Nyapane Kaya from the Ministry of Health in 2018 only because he (Kaya) had refused to unlawfully award the health ministry’s laundry and catering tenders to ‘Maesaiah.
Thabane has not denied these charges.
Maliehe found himself in hot water over his comments and was dismissed from cabinet in August last year.
Former Minister of Public Works and Transport Lehlohonolo Moramotse has also bounced back as Minister of Police and Public Safety.
Moramotse replaces ‘Mampho Mokhele who resigned earlier this year.
The Ministry of Education and Training also faced leadership changes with Mokoto Hloaele, who was Minister of Energy and Meteorology before these changes, now taking over from Professor Ntoi Rapapa who has been moved to the Ministry of Energy.
The reshuffle comes in the midst of depressing developments surrounding the teachers’ strike which started earlier this year.
In its desperate bid to break the strike, the government last month invoked the no-work, no-policy, a move which has been described as draconian by parliamentarians, civil society, opposition parties and teachers’ unions.
The teachers’ grievances include, among others, amendment of education policy, performance contracts, payment of outstanding salaries and allowances, salary errors on their performance-based contracts dating back to 2009.
Teachers also want salaries that are corresponding with their academic and professional qualifications. They want government to weed out ghost workers from the payroll and evaluate the career and salary structure.
Controversial Tefo Mapesela has been moved from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation.
Last month local media reported that there was a growing row between Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and Mapesela.
This row, it seems, was straining civilian-military relations, to the increasing concern of civil society.
Letsoela had claimed that unnamed political elements were trying to infiltrate and destabilise the forces, but commentators said it was common knowledge that Mapesela was the target.
Letsoela vowed never to allow “outsiders” to interfere with the army, while Mapesela accused the former of “revolting against civilian authority and taking major decisions without consultation”.
The army has been at the centre of Lesotho’s instability over the years, with its critics accusing it of meddling in politics. Strained relations between the military and civilian authority is probably the very last thing Lesotho needs right now.
Prime Minister Thabane, who has not managed any ministry since becoming a PM, will take over from Mapesela as Minister of defence and National Security.
The full list of changes below:
- Thabane is the Minister of Defence and National Security
- Mokhele Moletsane is the Minister of Home Affairs
- Temeki Tšolo is the Minister of Mines
- Tefo Mapesela is the Minister of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation
- Mahala Molapo is the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs
- Habofanoe Lehana is the Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs
- Keketso Sello is the Minister of Transport
- Tsukutlane Au is the Minister of Public Service
- Mokoto Hloaele is the Minister of Education and Training
- Professor Ntoi Rapapa is the Minister Energy and Metereology
- Leshoboro Mohlajoa is the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office
- Litšoane Litšoane is the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security
- Semano Sekatle is the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
- Halebonoe Setšabi is the Minister of Trade and Industry
- Motlohi Maliehe is the Minister of Social Development
- Lehlohonolo Moramotse is the Minister of Police and Public Safety
- Kotiti Liholo is the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations
- Mothepu Mahapa is the Deputy Minister of Basic Education
- Mokherane Tsatsanyane is the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs
- Kose Makoa is the Deputy Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation
- Moshe Leoma is the Deputy Minister of Public Works. NW