Africa

Where is Tom Thabane? Rumours of ill health plague Lesotho’s PM

By Carien Du Plessis 20 October 2017

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane is facing a motion of no confidence less than four months after being sworn in amidst rumours that he has been hospitalised due to ill health. Officially, however, he’s well and attending an event in Dubai. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.

One day after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa went to Lesotho to attend a post-elections national dialogue in that country, rumours have emerged that the 78-year-old Prime Minister Tom Thabane has been taken ill with a heart problem and is being treated in hospital in South Africa.

Four independent sources have confirmed that Thabane was taken ill, with some saying this happened on the way back from a visit to Dubai.

His spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, however, rubbished these claims, saying Thabane had been in Dubai for the past few days at the invitation of the government of the United Arab Emirates to attend Expo 2020 events there.

He did, however, confirm that Thabane had been in Johannesburg last Friday for his regular monthly medical check-up at Netcare Milpark Hospital.

“The Prime Minister is currently in Dubai,” Thakalekoala said. “He left on Tuesday this week and he is coming back tomorrow.”

He said Thabane would be back in time to open the Lesotho parliament next Friday, 27 October, after a motion of no confidence in the previous government forced a new election in June, in which Thabane’s All Basotho Convention triumphed.

Thabane was sworn in soon after the elections, but not before his estranged wife died. He got married again in August to 40-year-old Maesaih, and according to Thakalekoala is in Dubai with his current wife and a couple of government officials.

Thakalekoala denied that Thabane had heart problems “at all”, adding: “That is just propaganda that was spread in the country (Lesotho) to create some instability and instil fear in people’s minds that the Prime Minister is not in the country and that he is old and sick.”

Netcare spokesperson Martina Nicholson said she could not divulge any details about patients due to confidentiality issues.

Daily Maverick has learnt that opposition parties had written to Lesotho’s parliamentary clerk requesting a motion of no confidence, citing, among others, alleged interference in government matters by Thabane’s current wife.

Opposition parties have also been unhappy about the long delay to the opening of parliament. DM

Photo: Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane arrives at the FNB stadium ahead of the memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela, December 2013. (Photo: GCIS)

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