AD members defect to Mahao
THE fledgling Nqosa Mahao-led Basotho Action Party (BAP) has received a boost after opposition members of the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD) party from the Kolo constituency defected to it.
The AD members who joined Professor Mahao’s party include former National Assembly deputy speaker Teboho Lehloenya as well as the Monyane Moleleki-led party’s Kolo constituency committee members.
They were welcomed by Prof Mahao into the party last week. They later issued a statement saying they dumped the AD over what they consider to be unconstitutional behaviour on the part of Mr Moleleki.
They accuse the former deputy prime minister of flouting the AD constitution by inexplicably rejecting Mr Lehloenya’s nomination to represent the party in the Kolo constituency by-election. Mr Lehloenya had been nominated by the constituency committee but he now accuses Mr Moleleki and the AD’s national executive committee (NEC) of overruling the committee last month.
In the statement, Mr Lehloenya alleges that Mr Moleleki first visited him at his home this year on 16 February and ordered him not to avail himself as a party candidate for elections. He said Mr Moleleki did not give him any reasons for the “unusual and unconstitutional request”.
He said Mr Moleleki’s visit came ahead of a 26 March 2021 circular by the AD NEC, instructing the six constituencies without legislators to prepare for the by-elections by nominating candidates to represent them.
The six constituencies are Makhoroana, ‘Maliepetsane, Thupa Kubu, Mohale’s Hoek, Kolo and Qacha’s Nek. Five of the constituencies are without representation following the deaths of their legislators between 2019 and 2021.
Four of the deceased legislators Lefu Hlomelang (‘Makhoroana), Michael Molefe (‘Maliepetsane), Afrika Makakane (Thupa Kubu) and Sentje Lebona (Mohale’s Hoek) were all from the main ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC).
The late Kolo constituency MP, Putsoane Leeto, was a member of Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress (DC).
The Qacha’s Nek vacancy arose after the former incumbent, Pontšo Sekatle, stepped down to become Lesotho’s ambassador to Belgium and the European Union in February this year.
The by-elections have since been cancelled by the government due to budgetary constraints.
It has instead ordered the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to prepare for next year’s general elections.
Way before the cancellation of the by-elections, the AD’s NEC had instructed its committees in the affected constituencies to nominate candidates.
According to a statement issued by Mr Lehloenya and the committee, the Kolo constituency nominated the latter unopposed only for Mr Moleleki and the AD working committee to reject his nomination.
“Under the leadership of AD Leader, Honourable Monyane Moleleki, the AD Working Committee visited Kolo Constituency Committees on 16 May 2021 only to tell the constituency committee that their nomination (of Lehloenya) would not be acceptable,” the former committee states.
“It is very important to note that Honourable Moleleki had visited Honourable Lehloenya at his home on 16 February 2021, to ask him not to avail himself for any future national elections without giving him any reason for this unusual and unconstitutional request.
“Honourable Lehloenya’s pointed response to him was that all AD members are bound by clauses 3.8.6(f), 3.9.3(f) and 3.10.3(f) of the AD constitution, all of which outline how the nomination process for the party’s candidates for the national elections or any such by-elections, is conducted. After Honorable Lehloenya’s nomination by the Kolo Constituency on 24 April 2021, Honorable Moleleki was so determined to stop Honourable Lehloenya’s candidature that he seemed not to care that he was not only in breach of the aforesaid constitutional provisions, but he was also contravening Clauses 5.2.1 (d) and 5.2.1 (e) that explicitly prevents him and his NEC from exercising any such arbitrary powers to deny Honourable Lehloenya’s nomination by his constituency.”
They accused Mr Moleleki and the NEC of pandering to an unnamed AD member who wanted Mr Lehloenya rejected because her own candidature had been rejected on the grounds that she did not meet the requirements to stand on a party ticket.
They said this “unfortunate collective constitutional delinquency” and “sheer incompetence on the part of AD NEC” had pushed them to dump the AD for Prof Mahao’s BAP.
“This dismal failure of AD NEC to uphold the party’s constitution and its appalling mismanagement of party affairs, have immensely contributed to our collective decision as Kolo Constituency Committee members, including Honourable Paul Teboho Lehloenya, to quit the AD with immediate effect.
“In its place, this group and many of our followers, are joining the Basotho Action Party (BAP) forthwith, under the leadership of Professor Nqosa Mahao. The group is hopeful that being a constitutional law scholar himself, Prof Mahao will guide the BAP away from similar constitutional gaffes that the AD NEC has been committing for most of the four years of its existence,” they said.