Tom Motsoahae Thabane (born 1939) is a Basotho politician who has been Prime Minister of Lesotho since June 2012. He was a member of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and served in the government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from 1998 to 2006, but in 2006 he split from the LCD and formed the All Basotho Convention. After more than five years in opposition, he formed a coalition with other parties in the wake of the May 2012 parliamentary election and was appointed Prime Minister.
Thabane served as Principal Secretary for Health under Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan and then served in the government under the military regime that overthrew Jonathan and ruled the country from 1986 to 1993. He was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lesotho from 1990 to 1991.
Thabane became advisor to Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle in early 1995. He subsequently served as Foreign Minister in Mosisili's LCD government from June 1998 until June 2002. He then served as the Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety from June 2002 until November 2004, when he became Minister of Communications, Science and Technology.
Thabane resigned from the government on October 9, 2006, and formed a new party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC). Thabane claimed that his will was to unite all Basotho, not only those from the Congress party or National Party. Some believed that the formation of the ABC was the beginning of a new political light that could lead Lesotho to economic development. This became apparent in the news broad cast from a South African Radio Station known as Lesedi. It was believed by his supporters that if Thabane became prime minister, he would try to draw new policies that would bring a broader understanding of approach to changing Lesotho's declining hope in the global market.
18 MPs crossed the floor to join the ABC in opposition on October 13, 2006; 17 of these (including Thabane) had been LCD members, while the remaining MP was an independent. 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. 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.
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. 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.
On June 14, 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; it was lifted later in the month. Thabane was critical of the curfew and accused the police of being excessively harsh in enforcing it.
The LCD's reluctance to engage in talks regarding the political situation prompted Thabane on October 18, 2007 to threaten street protests to pressure the government into holding a new election "if they continue to fail to co-operate".
After an April 22, 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".
- "Mosisili Appointed Deputy Prime Minister", Summary of Events in Lesotho, Volume 2, Number 1, First Quarter 1995, trc.org.ls.
- "Appointment of New Cabinet", Summary of Events in Lesotho, Volume 5, Number 2, 2nd quarter 1998, trc.org.ls.
- "Parliamentarians and Members of New Cabinet Sworn In", Summary of Events in Lesotho, Volume 9, Number 2, 2nd quarter 2002, trc.org.ls.
- "Major Cabinet Reshuffle Announced", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 4th quarter 2004, trc.org.ls.
- "New Lesotho political party formed", AFP (IOL), October 13, 2006.
- "18 MPs Cross the Floor in the National Assembly to Form New Parliamentary Party", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 3rd quarter 2006, trc.org.ls.
- Bethuel Thai, "Lesotho will go to the polls in February 2007", Reuters (IOL), December 1, 2006.
- "Win was not fair - opposition", AFP (IOL), February 21, 2007.
- "2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Lesotho", US Department of State, March 11, 2008.
- "Lesotho: Masire Seeks to Mediate as Tensions Grow in Maseru", SouthScan.net (allAfrica.com), 11 July 2007.
- "Lesotho imposes a curfew", AFP (IOL), June 20, 2007.
- "Curfew lifted in Lesotho", AFP (IOL), June 24, 2007.
- "Thabane pressures Lesotho leaders", AFP (IOL), October 19, 2007.
- "Lesotho political tensions flare", AFP, May 13, 2009.