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Matekane picks cabinet  

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Bongiwe Zihlangu/ ’Marafaele Mohloboli

NEW Prime Minister, Sam Matekane’s cabinet will be sworn in tomorrow amid indications that the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader will make history by appointing his RFP second in command, Nthomeng Majara, as Lesotho’s first female deputy prime minister.

Mr Matekane is himself expected to double up as Defence and National Security minister while former Chief Justice Majara will also assume the Law and Justice portfolio. In yet another feather in the cap for women, Former Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) governor, Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, is expected to assume the crucial finance portfolio while RFP secretary general, Nthati Moorosi, is expected to take up the post of Communication, Science and Technology minister.

Apart from comfirming that the swearing-in ceremony will be held tomorrow, RFP spokesperson, Mokhethi Shelile, and other senior party officials who were consulted by this publication yesterday were all tightlipped about the cabinet line-up.

“The swearing-in of ministers has been scheduled for Friday. Thus far, no one knows the identities of the new ministers as they will only be officially notified on Thursday (today) ahead of the swearing-in the next day,” Mr Shelile said yesterday.

However, some party sources insisted that  Mr Matekane, who formed government after forging a coalition with the Monyane Moleleki-led Allaince of Democrats (AD) and Selibe Mochoboraone-led Movement for Economic Change (MEC), had resolved to appoint Ms Majara as deputy prime minister.

This would be yet another milestone for Ms Majara who is already in the history books as Lesotho’s first chief justice from 2014 to 2019. RFP sources said Mr Matekane and Ms Majara’s dual responsibilities are in line with the party’s quest to trim the size of cabinet and cut down on excessive government spending.

His coalition partners, Messrs Moleleki and Mochoboroane are also expected to be accommodated in the new cabinet.

Messrs Moleleki and Mochoboroane contributed their combined nine seats to give Mr Matekane, who had won 56 out of 79 consitutency seats, a total of 65 seats – just enough for him to form government.

The rest of the cabinet is expected to made up of senior members of Mr Matekane’s inner circle at the RFP.

The swearing-in of the new cabinet comes exactly a week after Mr Matekene’s own inauguration as prime minister at a packed Setsoto Stadium last Friday.

Shortly after winning the elections, Mr Matekane said he had settled for the AD and MEC as coalition partners because they shared his party’s vision of cutting down on government expenditure and improving the delivery of government services to long-suffering Basotho.

“The decision to form this coalition has been well thought out and it is based on principles which we individually believe in.

“We’ve also examined our manifestos and we are convinced that they are aligned. We believe that our union will yield the desired results,” Mr Matekane said. He said his new partners also shared his views on the need for a leaner cabinet to not only cut down on spending on salaries, allowances and other benefits, but also to ensure efficient service delivery.

Whoever will be sworn in tomorrow will have to abide by the terms of a performance-based contract which Mr Matekane on Friday said must be quickly drawn up and signed within 30 days as part of measures to achieve good governance.

The cabinet ministers will have their work cut out in implementing Mr Matekane’s 20-point plan to lay the groundwork for socio-economic growth.

Some of the key features of that plan, which Mr Matekane expects to be implemented in the first 100 days, include  coming up with concrete measures to fight crime and corruption, reining in state spending and paying off long-suffering government suppliers. Various analysts have hailed Mr Matekane’s proposals, saying while they are highly ambitious, they are achievable as long as there is the necessary political will and unity among the governing parties.