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ABC/LWP marriage on the rocks

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — The marriage between the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) is on the rocks.
Tension has been simmering between ABC leader Tom Thabane and LWP boss Macaefa Billy, impeccable sources told the Sunday Express.
The sources said relations had allegedly soured because of Billy’s attempt to make sweeping staff changes within ABC structures since he was elected the party’s secretary-general last December.
His election was part of the alliance deal between the parties to create a common vision and centralised working structure.
But sources said the arrangement had sparked a dispute between Billy and Thabane.
Thabane, the sources said, felt that Billy was antagonising some of his most trusted hands at ABC offices by either reshuffling them or pushing for their complete exclusion from the party’s administration. 
The sources said Thabane felt that the people allegedly targeted by Billy were experienced and most of them had contributed towards making the party what it is today.
Malehloka Ralitapole, a former PC FM presenter who is now working as a secretary at the ABC, is believed to be at the centre of the wrangle.
Problems, the sources said, started when Billy assumed the role of secretary-general and immediately pushed for Ralitapole’s removal from Thabane’s office.
Ralitapole tried to resist but eventually relented, the sources said. 
“Billy tried to justify kicking Ralitapole out of Thabane’s office by saying he was tightening up screws on security because he suspected her of leaking confidential information to government spies and ABC political adversaries,” the source said. 
Now Billy wants Ralitapole completetly kicked out of the ABC and Thabane is not happy about it, the sources said.
According to the sources, Thabane was not pleased with the administrative changes Billy made within the party “which include removing some people from Thabane’s office at the ABC head office and assigning new people there”.
Billy blamed Ralitapole for his failure to perform since he came into office, the sources said. 
The source said Billy repeated the same accusation when confronted by the party’s national executive committee on Tuesday.
Thabane was not part of the meeting.
“Billy was asked why he has not been frequenting the office and not performing but he threw a tantrum and later said that Ralitapole was the reason,” one of the sources said. 
“He said Ralitapole is the reason why he rarely goes to the ABC office because ‘the woman makes me uncomfortable.’”
In July the ousted ABC youth committee petitioned the party to relieve Ralitapole of her duties and find a replacement for her.
The letter, dated July 28 and addressed to the secretary-general (Billy) and the NEC, was signed by the former youth committee secretary, Potlako Thabane.
The letter, seen by the Sunday Express, said Ralitapole must go.
“In its recent meeting, the ABC National Youth Committee has resolved that Ms ‘Malehloka Ralitapole be relieved of her voluntary duties at the ABC office and for the ABC NEC to find a replacement for her,” the letter said.
The source said Billy is alleged to be behind the letter.
It’s not only Ralitapole that Billy blames for his low work output, another source said. 
“The former secretary-general of the ABC interim committee and the current treasurer, Motlatsi Matekane, has also been implicated by Billy as the reason behind his failure,” the source said.
So strained are the relations between the two that there has not been a complete handover of documents from Matekane to Billy.
Billy is understood to have said “in no uncertain terms will I use old records because I can always create my own”. 
“Billy refused to take records of Matekane’s tenure as the interim NEC’s secretary-general,” the source said.
“He made it clear he would not use old records because he was capable of creating his own.”
This paper also has it on good authority that the situation has escalated to a point where it is alleged that the LWP national executive committee has given Billy the consent to resign from the ABC executive committee if the relationship fails to work.
When contacted for comment, Billy downplayed the tension as just rumours “spread by individuals who only wanted to sow confusion”.
“There was an NEC meeting on Tuesday but nothing out of the ordinary happened. I threw no tantrums in there,” Billy said.
“The Tuesday meeting was just a routine NEC meeting to discuss the way forward. It was not about my alleged incompetence.”
“There is no such thing as an ailing relationship between ABC and LWP,” he added.
“Our relations are as healthy as ever and we are not about to go our separate ways.”
Billy said it was news to him that a split could be imminent between the ABC and LWP or that he could resign any day from the executive committee.
“It is a lie that a split is imminent and that I could resign from the ABC executive committee,” he said.
“I wish I knew who was coming up with these lies.
“This no doubt is propaganda.
“Our programmes are as strong as ever and I know for a fact that our alliance is not under any threat.”
Billy said it was a lie that there was bad blood between him and Ralitapole and that “we work well together”.
“Ralitapole and I work well together. There is no bad blood between us,” he said.
“Although she and I are not that close I have nothing bad to say about her.”
Billy denied influencing the previous youth committee to “petition for ‘Mé ‘Malehloka to be fired from the ABC office”.
Billy said it was also unfounded that relations were sour between him and Matekane.
“Mr Matekane and I work well together and I cannot say more,” Billy said.
Thabane said relations in the ABC/LWP alliance were going smoothly and that he was hearing of the alleged rift for the first time.
“This is the first time I am hearing about this. It is totally ludicrous because our alliance is as healthy as ever,” Thabane said.
Thabane described the allegations as propaganda by ABC adversaries to discredit “our thriving alliance”.
“This is what I call political propagandist lunacy formulated by enemies of the ABC,” he said.
“People would do well to focus on the development of their own parties and just let us be.”
Thabane said the “jealousy” probably stemmed from people who could not bear to see the ABC “succeed”.
“I have taken this party to great heights and not everybody will be happy with our success,” he said.
“My political track record is proof of what we can do given the chance.
“We know who we are and where we aspire to be.
“We live on hope and are at liberty to dream.”

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