MASERU — Cracks are beginning to emerge in the Basotho National Party (BNP)’s leadership after a member of the executive committee resigned last week.
Majara Molapo, who was the party’s publicity secretary, tendered his resignation on March 21, the day the BNP’s chaotic conference ended.
He handed his resignation to the party’s secretary-general, Ranthomeng Matete.
Molapo said he had resigned because he did not want to be part of an executive that “continues to hold on to power illegitimately”.
Many BNP supporters had hoped to remove Metsing Lekhanya as party leader at the conference.
The conference was adjourned on Sunday night before a new executive committee could be elected.
The delegates also failed to remove Lekhanya after their “vote of no confidence” failed to make the required 75 percent.
Molapo said the executive committee should have resigned to facilitate elections because its term had expired.
“It is totally immoral for some people to want to hold on to power even when their term has expired,” Majara said in an interview last week.
“In the event of expiration of term of office it is prudent for all elected officials to facilitate transition by submitting their resignations from the national executive committee (NEC),” he added.
“This will enable the appointment of an independent body to oversee elections without there being any cloud of doubt created by people clinging to positions which by right no longer belong to them.”
Molapo told the Sunday Express his “resignation was based on a point of principle and conscience”.
He said he was accountable to the people who elected him to the NEC.
“It is only a matter of good manners to return to them what is rightfully theirs,” he said.
“The constitution clearly says the NEC’s term of office has lapsed.
“The committee members should have handed in their resignations before the elective conference.
“The party’s elective conference has been adjourned and my advice to the rest of the members of the outgoing committee is that they should have resigned by the time it resumes,” Molapo said.
“We have to lower ourselves to the level of other BNP supporters so that they can act freely and be in a position to go into elections without pressure of any nature.”
Lekhanya, he added, should have also resigned before the conference and “assumed the role of just a caretaker”.
“Having elections with the incumbents still holding to power hampers freedom and transparency,” Molapo said.
“When we clutch onto positions for too long, we end up laying claim on them thus blocking the chances for other aspiring candidates to compete for them.”
The 75 percent majority clause in the BNP constitution, said Molapo, should be removed so that the party leader can be removed by a simple majority in the event of a vote of no confidence at the conference.
Molapo has also apparently become quite critical of Lekhanya’s leadership.
“When you are a leader and people indicate lack of faith in your leadership and the desire to see you go, you should not compete with public opinion,” he said.
“If a large percentage of people are opposed to your leadership, what are you leading? The minority?
“Where is your conscience if you call yourself a leader when the majority is opposed to you?
“Why don’t you just resign and save yourself from further embarrassment?”
When contacted for comment, Matete denied receiving Molapo’s resignation letter.
He said he would be in a position to comment only when such a letter has been presented to the BNP’s national executive committee.
“A resignation of that nature needs to be reported to the executive committee first,” Matete said.
“There is no comment I can issue at the moment.”
Matete said Molapo’s view that the committee should have resigned ahead of the conference was wrong.
“There should never a vacuum in any organisation,” he said.
“The current committee should be preparing for the conference and will only step aside once a new one has been elected.”
On the need to remove the 75 percent majority requirement, Matete said this would be dangerous because it would not give the leader “security of tenure”.
“The principle is used because there are things that just can’t be approved by simple majority,” he said.
“If it were to be suspended, it would not provide security of tenure for the leader.
“The leader has to be disposed of only for serious and valid reasons.”
Matete also criticised Molapo for alleging that the party was dying.
“As a member of the very same committee what proposals did he make in the name of the development of the party that were not accepted?” he said.
“How hard did he work as the party’s publicity secretary to improve the party’s image?”