Co-Option Tactics For Self-Preservation


(MENAFN- The Post) Prime Minister Sam Matekane this week appointed new ministers and deputy ministers in a move critics say is meant to ring-fence his coalition government.

The appointments came as Matekane battled a serious plot in parliament to boot him out and upend his government.

The decision will see Cabinet ballooning from the current 14 ministers to 19. A new batch of deputy ministers are set to be sworn-in soon.

The expansion of Cabinet was in response to a serious plot by opposition MPs to pass a vote-of-no-confidence in his government.

With his back to the wall, Matekane has been left with no option but to co-opt some political parties that were willing to work with him.

That has now seen former sworn enemies joining hands in an expanded Cabinet.

While we understand that this was a political reflex response for self-preservation on the part of Matekane, and that he has clearly outwitted his political opponents, the move to expand Cabinet will come at a heavy cost.

The new ministers will receive perks, including vehicles, in line with their new positions.

The new deputy ministers will also receive similar perks as well.

This will likely put a strain on the fiscus.

Critics have been quick to lash out at Matekane, pointing to his swift policy shift with regards to the size of Cabinet.

This is particularly true because just a year ago on his campaign trail, Matekane had pledged to appoint a lean Cabinet if he were to assume power.

It was on the back of those electoral promises that Matekane had stuck to his word when he appointed a 14-member Cabinet in October last year.

But even at 19 ministers, Matekane's Cabinet still remains comparatively smaller to those that were appointed by his predecessors.

Through the process of co-option, Matekane appears to have dogged the bullet. He will now likely have enough allies within parliament to ride past any impending no-confidence motion raised by the opposition.

This is politics. Matekane appears to have outwitted his political opponents who had celebrated his looming departure prematurely. It is now back to the drawing board for the opposition.

With Professor Nqosa Mahao's Basotho Action Party (BAP) and Mothetjoa Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) now on board, this means Matekane will need to manage competing interests among a host of coalition partners.

We know that a failure to manage competing interests has been the downfall of many of the coalition governments in Lesotho since 2012. This will likely test Matekane's political dexterity.

With Matekane enjoying a healthy cushion in parliament and with the plot to oust him now apparently neutralised, he should get his hands on the plough and move swiftly to ensure the reforms agenda is realised.

While Matekane pushes the reform agenda, the people on the ground want to see real economic transformation. They want to see the government go all out of support the private sector so that it can create jobs for thousands of unemployed youths.

Having survived the plot in parliament, this in our opinion will be Matekane's biggest test.

The key will be in strengthening key sectors such as agriculture, education, health and tourism. Matekane will be judged by how many jobs his government creates to allow youths to have meaningful lives. If he fails, voters will likely punish him in the ballot box at the next polls in 2027.

He would have none but himself to blame. That is precisely why we have argued in our previous editorials that Matekane must be given a chance to rule for the next five years. If he fails, he would have failed on his own.

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