Tom Thabane

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Tom Thabane
Tom Thabane.jpg
5th Prime Minister of Lesotho
Assumed office
16 June 2017
MonarchLetsie III
Preceded byPakalitha Mosisili
In office
8 June 2012 – 17 March 2015
MonarchLetsie III
Preceded byPakalitha Mosisili
Succeeded byPakalitha Mosisili
Personal details
Born (1939-05-28) 28 May 1939 (age 80)
Maseru, Basutoland (now Lesotho)
Political partyLesotho Congress For Democracy [LCD (Before 2006)
All Basotho Convention (2006–present)
Spouse(s)First wife (?–?)
Lipolelo Thabane (1987–2017; her death)
Maesaih Thabane (m. 2017)
EducationUniversity of South Africa (BA)

Thomas Motsoahae Thabane (born 28 May 1939)[1] is a Mosotho politician who has been Prime Minister of Lesotho since June 2017. Previously he was Prime Minister from June 2012 to March 2015. He is leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) political party.

Thabane served in the government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from 1998 to 2006, and at the time, was a member of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), but in 2006 he split from the LCD and launched the ABC. After more than five years in opposition, he built a coalition of 12 parties in the wake of the May 2012 parliamentary election and was appointed Prime Minister.

In the February 2015 parliamentary election, the All Basotho Convention was democratically removed from power by a seven-party coalition led by his rival and predecessor, Pakalitha Mosisili, although the ABC did win the highest number of constituencies. Two months later, Thabane fled to South Africa with two other opposition leaders, claiming that their lives were in danger. They returned to Lesotho on 12 February 2017 in order to participate in a parliamentary vote of no confidence that unseated Prime Minister Mosisili.[2][3]

Political career[edit]

Thabane served as Principal Secretary for Health under Leabua Jonathan, the second Prime Minister of Lesotho, until the military overthrew Jonathan in 1986. Thabane then served with the military regime under General Justin Lekhanya until 1991.[4] He was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 1991.[citation needed]

Thabane became an advisor to Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle in early 1995.[4] He subsequently served again as Foreign Minister in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili's LCD government from June 1998[5] until June 2002. Thabane was appointed as Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety in June 2002[6] and as Minister of Communications, Science and Technology in November 2004.[7]

In opposition[edit]

Thabane resigned from the government on 9 October 2006, and formed a new party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC).[8] Thabane claimed that his will was to unite all Basotho, not only those from the Congress party or National Party.[citation needed] Some believed that the formation of the ABC was the beginning of a new political light that could lead Lesotho to economic development.[citation needed]

18 MPs crossed the floor to join the ABC in opposition on 13 October 2006;[8][9] 17 of these (including Thabane) had been LCD members, while the remaining MP was an independent.[9] Thabane's party thus became the third largest party in Parliament. The ruling party was left with 61 of the 120 parliamentary seats; with such a precarious majority, Mosisili requested the dissolution of Parliament, and an early election was called for February 2007.[10] In the election, the ABC took 17 out of 80 constituency seats, while the LCD took 61. Thabane said that the vote was free, but not fair.[11]

An extended dispute followed the 2007 election regarding the allocation of the seats based on proportional representation. Five opposition parties called for the Speaker of Parliament to designate Thabane as Leader of the Opposition in March 2007, but the Speaker rejected this on the grounds that the agreement made by the opposition parties was not legitimate.[12] National Independent Party leader Dominic Motikoe was instead designated as the Leader of the Opposition, despite leading a party that was allied to the LCD.[13]

On 14 June 2007, an assassination attempt on Thabane allegedly occurred, with gunmen firing outside his home. Several other incidents of political violence occurred at around the same time, and an indefinite curfew was imposed;[14][15] it was lifted later in the month.[15] Thabane was critical of the curfew and accused the police of being excessively harsh in enforcing it.[14]

The LCD's reluctance to engage in talks regarding the political situation prompted Thabane on 18 October 2007 to threaten street protests to pressure the government into holding a new election "if they continue to fail to co-operate".[16]

After an 22 April 2009 assault on Mosisili's residence, which was believed to have been a failed attempt to kill Mosisili, police said that retired officer Makotoko Lerotholi, a bodyguard of Thabane, was suspected of involvement in the attack. Thabane condemned the government for placing blame on the opposition, describing it as "treachery".[17]

Prime Minister[edit]

After more than five years in opposition, Thabane formed a coalition with other parties in the wake of the May 2012 parliamentary election and was appointed as Prime Minister.

Thabane fled to South Africa on 30 August 2014, alleging that the military was attempting to take power and wanted to kill him. He said that he would go back to Lesotho only if he felt his life was not in danger. The military denied the allegations.[18] He returned to Lesotho on 3 September 2014 under the protection of South African police.[19]


Thabane's party failed to attain a majority in the 2015 snap election and was unsuccessful in forming a coalition government. In an interview on the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Thabane stated that this would be his last term in parliament. He cited Nelson Mandela as an example of leaders who voluntarily left office.[20]

Following the opposition's boycott of parliament in June 2015 to protest the government's alleged disinterest in investigating circumstances surrounding Brigadier-General Maaparankoe Mahao's death, Thabane and two other opposition party leaders left for South Africa and did not attend any parliamentary sittings, citing security issues and instability in the country. On 12 February 2017 they returned to Lesotho, declaring that Prime Minister Mosisili no longer commanded a parliamentary majority and vowing to oust him in a vote of no confidence. Thabane claimed that he was risking his life by returning.[21]

Prime Minister (since 2017)[edit]

Mosisili was defeated in the vote of no confidence, leading to a new election in June 2017. The ABC won the most seats, and with its allies it was able to command a majority. Thabane was sworn in as Prime Minister on 16 June 2017.[22]

In October 2017 rumours emerged that Thabane had been hospitalised in South Africa, dismissed by a spokesperson as propaganda intended to destabilise Lesotho.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Thabane was married to Lipolelo Thabane, who filed for divorce from him in 2012.[24] On 14 June 2017, Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in Ha-'Masana, outside of Maseru.[24]

On August 27, 2017, he married Maesaih Thabane at a Catholic ceremony in Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.[25] In the first week of January 2020, the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party asked him to resign over his suspension of the police commissioner Holomo Molibeli, who had linked him to the murder of his wife. [26]

On January 10, 2020, an arrest warrant was issued for Thabane's present wife, first lady Maesaih Thabane, who is wanted to in connection for the 2017 murder of Thabane's estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane.[27] Maesaih Thabane went into hiding and Prime Minister Thabane announced his intent to resign from office shortly after her arrest warrant was issued.[27]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Index Ta-Ti". Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  2. ^ AFP. "Lesotho teeters as former PM returns". Times LIVE. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Exiled Lesotho opposition leaders return home from S/Africa -". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Mosisili Appointed Deputy Prime Minister", Summary of Events in Lesotho, volume 2, number 1, first quarter 1995, Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Appointment of New Cabinet", Summary of Events in Lesotho, volume 5, number 2, 2nd quarter 1998, Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Parliamentarians and Members of New Cabinet Sworn In", Summary of Events in Lesotho, volume 9, number 2, 2nd quarter 2002, Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Major Cabinet Reshuffle Announced", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 4th quarter 2004, Archived 28 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b "New Lesotho political party formed", AFP (IOL), 13 October 2006.[dead link]
  9. ^ a b "18 MPs Cross the Floor in the National Assembly to Form New Parliamentary Party", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 3rd quarter 2006, Archived 18 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Bethuel Thai, "Lesotho will go to the polls in February 2007", Reuters (IOL), 1 December 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  11. ^ "Win was not fair - opposition", AFP (IOL), 21 February 2007.[dead link]
  12. ^ "2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Lesotho", US Department of State, 11 March 2008.
  13. ^ "Lesotho: Masire Seeks to Mediate as Tensions Grow in Maseru", (, 11 July 2007.
  14. ^ a b "Lesotho imposes a curfew", AFP (IOL), 20 June 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  15. ^ a b "Curfew lifted in Lesotho", AFP (IOL), 24 June 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2007.[dead link]
  16. ^ "Thabane pressures Lesotho leaders", AFP (IOL), 19 October 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  17. ^ "Lesotho political tensions flare", AFP, 13 May 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2009.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Lesotho's coup attempt blamed on instability", VOA News, 31 August 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  19. ^ Andrew England, "Thabane returns to Lesotho after attempted coup", Financial Times, 3 September 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Post Lesotho elections with Vuyo Mvoko". 6 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  21. ^ "Ex-PM returns to restive Lesotho vowing to win power", Agence France-Presse, 12 February 2017.
  22. ^ Ismail Akwei, "'Devastated' Lesotho PM inaugurated after fatal shooting of wife", Africanews, 16 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Where is Tom Thabane? Rumours of ill health plague Lesotho's PM | Daily Maverick". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  24. ^ a b Toyana, Mfuneko (15 June 2017). Cropley, Ed (ed.). "Incoming Lesotho Prime Minister's wife shot dead: police". Reuters. Archived from the original on 15 June 2017.
  25. ^ "Multitudes witness PM's wedding". Government of Lesotho. 27 August 2017. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Lesotho PM's party seeks his ouster over wife's murder". News24. 9 January 2020. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  27. ^ a b Mohloboli, Marafaele (20 January 2020). "Lesotho 1st lady's rise to infamy". The Sowetan. Archived from the original on 20 January 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Catholic King Letsie III of Lesotho invested into the Constantinian Order - Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George". 8 October 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2017.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
New office Leader of the All Basotho Convention
Political offices
Preceded by
Pakalitha Mosisili
Prime Minister of Lesotho
Succeeded by
Mothetjoa Metsing
Preceded by
Mothetjoa Metsing
Prime Minister of Lesotho
Succeeded by
Pakalitha Mosisili
Preceded by
Pakalitha Mosisili
Prime Minister of Lesotho