THE lead coalition government party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), has been plunged into fresh turmoil following the resignation of its treasurer, Tlali Mohapi, over his alleged failure to perform his duties.
ABC spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, said Mr Mohapi had indicated that he was resigning in frustration over the previous national executive committee (NEC)’s failure to hand over audited financial records to him.
But a letter from party leader, Thomas Thabane, to Mr Mohapi accused the latter of failing to perform his duties.
Mr Mohapi is said to have told fellow NEC members that he would rather step down than soil his reputation by administering party funds in the absence of audited financials from the previous NEC.
Mr Masoetsa said since last year, Mr Mohapi had been refusing to process payments to various suppliers and this had negatively affected the party’s programmes.
Mr Mohapi confirmed that he had stepped down on Monday but refused to say why.
He said he would remain a “loyal, ordinary card-carrying member” of the party which anchors the governing coalition alongside the Democratic Congress (DC).
ABC leader and former Prime Minister Mr Thabane has accepted Mr Mohapi’s resignation.
Over a week ago, the veteran ABC leader wrote to Mr Mohapi indicating that he had accepted his resignation after “tough talks” with him over his alleged failure to discharge his duties.
Mr Thabane’s letter also suggests that Mr Mohapi suspected that in the absence of audited accounts, party funds could have been embezzled by the previous NEC. Therefore, his conscience would not allow him to discharge his duties despite frequent persuasion by Mr Thabane and other NEC members.
“After tough talks with you and a request from the national executive committee during its meeting on 11 October 2021 that you discharge your mandate as per the decisions of the 2019 elective conference, you unfortunately failed to implement them until today,” Mr Thabane states in his 14 October 2021 letter to Mr Mohapi.
“Despite that, the NEC continued to plead with you to discharge your mandate. It also requested you to say if you were finding it difficult to discharge your mandate so that you can be assisted. The NEC requested me to deal with your issue but unfortunately, even before I could carry out the NEC’s directive, you told me that your conscience would not allow you to involve yourself in a mess emanating from your suspicions that party funds were misappropriated by the previous NEC. Therefore, you could not continue with your mandate.
“You indicated that you will remain a loyal member of the party. Given the long time you took without doing justice to this party from 2019 until now, on behalf of the NEC, I accept your resignation as treasurer of the party (sic),” Mr Thabane further states.
In a subsequent interview with the Sunday Express over the weekend, Mr Masoetsa said Mr Mohapi had said he was unhappy with the previous NEC’s failure to hand over audited financial statements when he took over in 2019.
“He said he could not touch the party’s financial books because they had not been audited to show whether everything was clean or in a mess.
“Initially the problem we had after the 2019 elective conference was that of infighting. We fought for a full year after the conference. No official handover ever took place even after we had reunited in 2020.”
Mr Masoetsa was referring to the infighting which plagued the ABC after Mr Thabane refused to accept the election of former National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor, Nqosa Mahao, as his deputy in 2019.
Mr Thabane refused to accept Professor Mahao’s election on the grounds that he was a political novice who should not have been elected ahead of party stalwarts like current deputy leader and Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.
Most NEC members including Messrs Masoetsa, Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and deputy spokesperson, ‘Matebatso Doti, threw their weight behind Prof Mahao in his power struggle with Mr Thabane.
With their support, Prof Mahao forced Mr Thabane to step down as prime minister in May 2020. Dr Majoro came in as new premier at the head of a new coalition with the Mathibeli Mokhothu-led Democratic Congress (DC).
However, Prof Mahao fell out with his erstwhile allies in April this year and left to form his own Basotho Action Party (BAP). His former allies had performed an about turn and started backing Mr Thabane’s leadership as they could not agree on who should replace him.
Even though a new fight has erupted between two ABC factions backing Mr Thabane and Dr Majoro, there appears to have been a consensus in the NEC meetings that every member, including Mr Mohapi, must discharge their duties even without the handover of audited books by the previous NEC.
But, as indicated by Mr Masoetsa, Mr Mohapi had continued to resist calls for him to conduct his duties. He was even refusing to co-sign cheques along with Messrs Thabane and Hlaele and this had caused the party to fall into rental and other arrears, Mr Masoetsa said.
“After we reunited last year, we decided to establish a neutral office where we would all work together as the NEC. When that was done, everyone was now supposed to discharge their mandate. Thabane had to provide leadership, Hlaele had to conduct administrative duties as secretary general, I had to speak on behalf of the party while Mohapi had to perform his tasks of monitoring incoming funds and expenditure.
“But we encountered problems when we were supposed to pay rentals and photocopying machines among other things. Ntate Mohapi initially refused to sign the cheques, saying he would not append his signature to cheques that were not co-signed by Thabane. We then requested the secretary general to ensure that Thabane signs the cheques. Hlaele also became a signatory but even after this had been done, Mohapi still refused to sign.
“From August last year, there were tensions in the party after Hlaele informed the NEC that Mohapi’s refusal to sign the cheques was negatively affecting the party’s financial affairs. It had also become difficult to say whether MPs, councillors and other deployees in government were paying their monthly subscriptions to the party in accordance with our constitution.
“Ntate Mohapi was initially given a week to collect bank statements and give us a report indicating who was paying and who was in arrears. He did not comply and this continued until this year in July when we had a tough talk with him. Again, he said he would not work in the absence of audited financials.
“In our most recent meeting, we asked him about the issue and again he said he would not work as long as the books had not been audited. He eventually chose to resign. But why did he even bother to contest the elections in the first place when the financials had not been audited and presented to the conference before then,” Mr Masoetsa asked?
Asked to comment, Mr Mohapi said he was not prepared to discuss party affairs in the media.