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ABC leadership race hots up

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — Two of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane’s favourite contenders for the deputy leadership post, Mining Minister Tlali Khasu and Development Planning Principal Secretary Lerotholi Pheko, are set to lock horns at the party’s Febru­ary 1 elective indaba.
Earlier indications were that Pheko was set to become the ABC’s deputy leader as he proved to be a favourite having been nom­inated by several constituencies.

However, new information has since emerged suggesting that Khasu could have an edge over Pheko in that although he (Pheko) is in Thabane’s good books, the ABC leader is said to be more in favour of Khasu.

According to an authoritative source dealing directly with the receipt of nominations, Thabane prefers Khasu because he was quieter and less challenging than Pheko who is said to be some kind of a firebrand.

“Ntate Thabane likes both, but he is rather lukewarm to Pheko,” the source said.
In addition, the source said, the camp lobbying for Khasu also comprises several members of Thabane’s clique including his close relatives and one Sebili, a prominent artiste popular for re­cording music praising Thabane “thus making Pheko’s prospects a bit bleak”.

“We have people like Sebili and some of the leader’s relatives in that camp, people whose opinion he (Thabane) values a great deal,” the source said.

Meanwhile, there is a new ad­dition to the list of nominees ear­marked to unseat ABC chairman Molobeli Soulo from the coveted party chair he has occupied since 2009.

Motlohi Maliehe, the ABC’s Bu­tha-Buthe constituency MP and Pallo Mahomo, the party’s 2012 national assembly poll candidate who lost the Likhoele constituency to the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC)’s Khotso Letsatsi by 93 votes, are expected to throw their hats into the ring for the post of chairman.

Speaking to the Sunday Ex­press yesterday, Mahomo said he heard the news about his nomina­tion on Friday but was evasive as to whether or not he would accept it.

“Maybe I will give you a clear answer on Wednesday next week,” Mahomo said.
This paper however under­stands that despite the wish by some ABC members to see Soulo’s back, Thabane has been telling camps that want to eliminate the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office that he will not “work with an ABC NEC that does not have Soulo in it”.

“The leader has told these camps he will not work without Soulo, this is despite recent re­ports that their relations are not healthy,” the source said.

“This is because the leader be­lieves that nobody has ever been as devoted to the ABC as Ntate Soulo has been and Ntate Tha­bane appreciates people he can rely on,” the source added.
Another prominent ABC mem­ber, whom another source said has bleak prospects of making the NEC, is Correctional Ser­vices Minister and the Sta­dium Area constituency MP Mophato Monyake.
“Monyake has in recent times lost favour with the ABC leader and his con­stituency, and he’s no longer as popular with the general party mem­bership either,” the source said.

Another significant NEC post up for grabs is that of secretary gen­eral which Samonyane Ntsekele, a Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) employee, accomplished nursing sister and pharmacist Mants’iuoa Mosothoane and incumbent sec­retary general Futho Hoohlo are vying for.

ABC sources told this paper that by virtue of being a mem­ber of Thabane’s clique, Ntsekele could bag the coveted post as his closeness to the ABC leader gives him competitive advantage over Mosothoane.

“Futho, on the other hand, has burnt bridges with the ABC leadership by causing trouble since taking over in April. We have since lost confidence in him,” the source said.
Tourism Minister ‘Mama­hele Radebe, who is the for­mer ABC women’s league president, is a favourite for the post of treasurer although she faces stiff competition from the Trade Deputy Minister Maliehe Maliehe, another force to reckon with ow­ing to his loyalty to the leader as well.
“This is going to work out based on how close one is to the leader because for all the candidates, his opinion of them is what will gar­ner them votes,” another authori­tative source said.
This paper has also learnt that, although it was initially an­nounced that yesterday would be the last day for the submission of nominations, the ABC has since postponed the deadline to Janu­ary 31 “due to the steady flow of nominations despite the previous­ly announced cut-off date”.
Former Lesotho Defence Forces Major General Makoro, who is the current District Administrator for Maseru has also been nominated as candidate for the deputy pub­licity secretary’s post.
However, sources said last night that there is some resistance to his candidature since it is said he has not been a member of the party for five years as per the par­ty’s constitution.
Sources said he joined the party on the eve of the 2012 election.

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