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BNP leader on charm offensive

Bongiwe Zihlangu

 MASERU — Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Metsing Lekhanya has gone on a charm offensive by offering all members expelled from the party a general amnesty.

The development comes as Lekhanya — who survived attempts to topple him from the BNP helm — seeks to stop the party from further disintegrating ahead of the 2012 general elections.

Over the past year several key members of the party have either deserted or have been forced to leave the BNP as the leadership battle intensified.

However, Lekhanya told the Sunday Express he had held out the olive branch because “we seriously need to revamp the BNP”.

The BNP’s national executive committee will make the recommendation for the amnesty to the party’s general conference due to be held in December.

A statement issued by the BNP on Thursday said the “general amnesty” will apply to all “former members who left the party for various reasons”.

The statement however does not say how the amnesty will be applied.

Nor does it say what a party member needs to do to qualify for the amnesty.

Lekhanya however said some cases will be treated on merit.

The former military strongman said although he is the one who suggested the “general amnesty” he did not believe it should be applied randomly without analysing the merits of each case.

There are some “isolated cases” that need special treatment, Lekhanya said.

The special cases that he was referring to include those of BNP veteran Alexis Moholi, former youth leader Moeketsi Hanyane and MP Seabata Thabisi who were expelled for insubordination.

“Theirs is an isolated case that will have to be treated differently,” Lekhanya said.

“They were charged with contravening the party’s disciplinary code and for insubordination.

“It will all depend on their attitude to this new development and how they state their case in order for them to be reinstated.

“I must also highlight the fact that even people who were expelled on the basis of criminal acts will have their cases treated differently even if they are eventually granted amnesty.”

“Offering former members amnesty will short-circuit their reinstatement into the party as it will help avoid the long process of starting afresh with the processes such as registering anew and the like,” Lekhanya added.

“We are yet to deliberate on how to go about it so that we know exactly how to implement the plan after it has been tabled before a special conference likely to be in December.”

Hanyane has however expressed doubts about Lekhanya’s sincerity in offering a general amnesty.

He said the proposed amnesty was “utterly discriminatory” after Lekhanya said each case will be treated on its merits.

If the BNP executive committee’s intention was to declare a general amnesty to all deserted and expelled members it should be unconditional, Hanyane said.

“I am a learned person. My understanding therefore is that when one talks about general amnesty it means everybody, us included, will be reinstated without questions so that we all start afresh,” Hanyane said.

“I believe we should be treated like everybody else, not any different from people who defected to other political parties such as the ABC, BDNP and so on.”

“It has always been our intention to return to the party,” he added.

“But if we’ll be treated differently before being welcome into the BNP, then that is what I call aromatic amnesty. It is conditional.”

Thabisi said he wanted to return to the BNP but said his return depended on how the amnesty will be applied.

How the committee will approach his case will determine whether he will return to the party or not, Thabisi said.

“I have said it time and again that I am comfortable as I am,” he said.

“Whether I am considered an official BNP member or not, it does not erase how I feel.

“I am a proud supporter of the BNP and that won’t change.”

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