EVENTS at the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s special conference yesterday are a clear indication that all is not well in Lesotho’s biggest opposition party.
The delegates left the conference dejected after their attempts to boot out the national executive committee hit a brick wall.
The conference itself was a dismal failure.
Not a single resolution was reached although the delegates argued non-stop for more than 14 hours.
The party’s constitution, the source of bitter complaints from members, was not amended as anticipated.
Plans to have the conference ratify the party’s decision to end its three-year alliance with the Lesotho Workers Party also never materialised.
Instead the conference only served to remind us that Lesotho’s biggest opposition party is in trouble.
Its leadership is under siege and its members are disillusioned.
Some senior members, including MPs, have left the party.
In most of the cases those who leave the party point at what they say are Thabane’s “dictatorial tendencies”.
Thabane does not run the party by consensus, so goes the accusation that we have heard over the past three years.
But their reasons aside, the bottom line is that the ABC is a deeply troubled party.
That this is happening just a year before the next general election worries us.
A party that is torn by infighting and acrimony cannot win an election.
It is our strong belief that in its current fractious state the ABC cannot win an election against the Lesotho Congress for Democracy even when the ruling party itself is battling with internal troubles of its own.
The ABC was formed 2006 amid hope and euphoria that it would become the next government but over the past three years the party has grown weaker because of infighting and, we dare say, poor leadership.
It’s shocking that in just three years a party that was seen as a government-in-waiting has become almost a joke.
In the end the real loser is Lesotho’s nascent democracy.
A weak opposition is not good for democracy.
In fact, it is a danger to democracy.
The chaos at the special conference should be a wake-up call to the ABC leadership.
The delegates made it clear that they wanted the national executive committee out.
Although Thabane seems to have shielded the committee the reality is that he cannot wish away the conference’s major grievances.
The delegates said the committee had failed to run the party.
Thabane does not have to be a professor of political science to know that a party cannot function with a dysfunctional leadership.
He must not be seen to be protecting his comrades in the national executive committee.
He must not come across as an impediment to progressive change that the people are demanding.
The ABC needs strong leadership to maintain cohesion in the party.