THE eagerly anticipated All Basotho Convention (ABC) special conference which was scheduled for Friday was cancelled by the party’s new national executive committee (NEC) on grounds that the proper procedures had not been followed when it was called for by the old NEC.
The cancellation of the special conference was followed by the withdrawal of the High Court case which had been filed to stop the conference by two party officials, Molati Putsoane and Sefali Mohlaoli.
The duo withdrew their case in the aftermath of Wednesday’s High Court judgement which paved the way for Professor Nqosa Mahao and the rest of the new NEC to assume office.
Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC subsequently won the right to assume office after a 12 June 2019 High Court judgement which dismissed the case that had been brought against their election by ABC legislators, Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung constituency), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe).
The trio filed the application seeking the nullification of the election of Prof Mahao and others on the grounds that the voting process was allegedly characterised by massive vote rigging. However, High Court judges, Justices Thamsanqa Nomngcongo (presiding judge), Moroke Mokhesi and Sakoane Sakoane dismissed the trio’s application, ruling that the alleged vote rigging would not have changed the outcome of the elections.
There had been widespread allegations that the old NEC intended to use the special conference to kick Prof Mahao and his supporters out of the party.
The Mahao faction had vowed not to attend the conference which was announced by the old NEC’s secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele, during a rally in Ha Mabote on 19 May 2019.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Ntsekele refuted allegations that there were plans to oust Prof Mahao and his colleagues, saying the conference had merely been called to deal with the infighting and to find ways of re-uniting the fractious party.
“It is only when the special conference has been held that can anyone say for certain what has been decided with regards to the infighting and way forward in terms of re-uniting the party,” Mr Ntsekele said in an interview with this publication.
Messrs Putsoane and Mohlaoli stated in their court papers that they were opposed to the holding of the conference because they had not been not notified of it and therefore their constituencies would be prejudiced if the conference were to proceed as planned.
Their application had initially been scheduled to be heard on Wednesday after the judgement which pronounced Prof Mahao as the new ABC deputy leader.
Prof Mahao and his faction won the long-drawn out battle for the control of the ABC after the High Court dismissed an application by three ABC legislators, Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung constituency), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) for the nullification of their February 2019 election.
The trio had sought the nullification of the February election on the grounds that it was characterised by “massive vote rigging”.
However, the High Court bench comprising of Justices Thamsanqa Nomngcongo (presiding judge), Moroke Mokhesi and Sakoane Sakoane on Wednesday dismissed the trio’s application, ruling that the alleged vote rigging would not have changed the outcome of the elections.
The High Court also confirmed Advocate Khotso Nthontho as the rightful legal representative of the ABC and its NEC. Adv Nthontho then asked the court to postpone the case against the special conference to last Thursday to enable him to “take fresh instructions” from his clients.
Messrs Putsoane and Mohlaoli’s lawyer, Advocate Mabat?oeneng Hlaele, also told the court that she also had to take new instructions from her clients in light of the Wednesday judgement which went in favour of the new NEC.
Yesterday, Adv Nthontho told this publication that his clients, the new NEC resolved to cancel the special conference and therefore the case against it was also withdrawn.
“My clients have always been against the special conference so when the High Court declared them as the rightfully elected committee, they cancelled the special conference because it was not called by the rightful NEC. This automatically led to the withdrawal of the (Messrs Putsoane and Mohlaoli’s) case because there was no longer anything to challenge,” Adv Nthontho said.