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ABC top brass faces rebellion

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Caswell Tlali

 MASERU — The opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party’s two-day special conference ended in chaos yesterday amid aggressive calls by delegates for the removal of the national executive committee.

Angry delegates told the conference they were “fed up” with the national executive committee which they called “inept” and a recipe for disaster ahead of the 2012 general elections.

They warned that the ABC would lose the 2012 elections if the current committee remained in office.

So high were the tempers that some delegates booed party leader Tom Thabane.

But party chairman Molobeli Soulo was at the receiving end of much of the vitriol.

Soulo is destroying the party, said some of them who had packed the Maseru High School hall for the conference.

Most of the delegates seemed to have come to the conference with one aim: to remove the national executive committee.

The conference started at 6:30pm on Friday and the delegates argued the whole night but they could not agree on key issues.

Delegates who attended the all-night conference said so acrimonious were the arguments that by yesterday morning they had not reached a single resolution.

The main agenda of amending the party’s constitution and ratifying the decision to end the alliance with the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) had not reached resolution stage.

By yesterday morning the tired delegates seemed to be in a foul mood.

At around 9.30am Motlohi Maliehe, the MP for Butha-Buthe, moved a motion for the conference to remove the ABC national executive.

“We elected them but it seems they were not keen to serve this party,” said an agitated Maliehe.

“The committee should be disbanded because it has failed the party,” he said to deafening applause from the delegates.

“It’s like this committee has called us here to make a mockery of us.

“Have they called us to gather here because they longed to see our angry or smiling faces?”

Instead of asking someone from the floor to second Maliehe’s motion, Soulo shot back in anger.

“Why instead of criticising me constructively do you attack me like this?” said Soulo.

“Your criticism is destructive, but I have nothing to say, it’s alright.”

His response infuriated the delegates, some of who were already on their feet shouting insults at him.

“You are not constructible,” shouted some voices from the crowd in unison.

“You have destroyed this party, Mokhoro!” shouted a voice from the floor.

Mokhoro, a hut, is the symbol under which Soulo contested in the 2007 general elections as an independent candidate after he had dismally lost the ABC primary election for the Lithoteng constituency.

After losing the seat to the ABC’s Eliabe Mokhanoi, Soulo was rescued from political oblivion when Thabane gave him a proportional representation seat in parliament.

But many ABC members seem to have not forgiven him for contesting against an ABC candidate.

That anger seems to have played itself out at the conference.

When he tried to cool down tempers by shouting the party’s slogan most of the delegates ignored him.

Instead they kept attacking him.

And when he tried to address the conference the delegates booed him.

When Thabane eventually took the floor he seemed in a sombre mood.

He warned against infighting in the party.

The fights in the ABC were benefiting the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Thabane said.

He also warned against changing the leadership a few months before the next national election.

“I am not giving orders, but I am just giving you a warning,” Thabane said.

“I do not know why we take each other by surprise. Now the executive committee has been ambushed.

“The LCD will have no greater bonus than a report that all is not well among us.”

Thabane said although he understood that the ABC members could not be led by people they did not trust he was not happy with the way the committee was being pushed out.

“You fire us like we were employees working under a contract,” he said.

“We want you to remain the leader,” retorted a voice from the crowd.

“We have no confidence in this committee, we want it removed,” shouted another.

“If that is what you want, I will humble myself to the end,” Thabane responded.

Yet even in that heated atmosphere Thabane still managed to fire volleys at Maliehe.

“I hear one of our MPs complaining that our committee is inefficient but he is the MP who has not been paying contributions to the party office for months,” he said.

“Why is he so brave to say a baby’s faeces have splattered on us?”

Some of the delegates later told the Sunday Express that they were disappointed that Thabane had shielded the committee. 

When Soulo took the floor again he was announcing that the conference had ended.

“I am informed that our permit to hold this conference has expired and therefore we have to stop right here,” he said.

That announcement triggered mayhem as swearing delegates stormed out of the hall in anger.

Some insulted Soulo with unprintable vulgar words.

Only a few of them remained inside for the closing prayer.

The conference did not reach a single resolution.

Meanwhile, the ABC has suspended its youth league’s publicity secretary Jane Mohoalohoalo for attacking the party leadership.

Mohoalohoalo received his suspension letter on Thursday, a day after the youth league issued a statement attacking the party’s acting secretary-general Sam Rapapa for censuring them.

Rapapa signed Mohoalohoalo’s letter of suspension on behalf of the national executive committee.

Mohoalohoalo said the letter accused him of criticising Thabane for a trip he recently made to Tanzania.

The trip was apparently funded by parliament and was meant to help MPs study Tanzania’s strategies to have more women in political positions. 

Mohoalohoalo is also accused of attacking Rapapa in the statement the league issued this week.

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