BASOTHO National Party (BNP) secretary general (SG) Tšepo Lethobane has been handed a two-year suspension for allegedly embezzling party funds.
BNP spokesperson ‘Masetota Leshota confirmed Mr Lethobane’s suspension. Ms Leshota said he was suspected of misappropriating party funds which were paid by tenants through mobile money platforms.
Ms Leshota said Mr Lethobane’s suspension was done on the recommendation of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) which had received reports from its sub-committee indicating that there were party funds that could not be accounted for. It is said that over M84 000 could not be accounted for.
“He (Lethobane) was suspended on Wednesday for two years over the misappropriation of party funds which were paid by tenants through mobile money platforms into his personal phone. During his suspension, he will not take part in the party’s activities,” Ms Leshota said in a weekend interview with the Sunday Express. The suspension is with effect from 20 October 2021. This renders Mr Lethobane ineligible to contest next year’s elections on a BNP ticket.
However, the former teacher and trade unionist, who only ventured into politics in 2019, has protested his innocence. He has vowed to appeal the national executive committee (NEC)’s decision which he said was “tantamount to expulsion from the party”.
“I received my suspension letter on Wednesday and I was ordered not to participate in any party activities for two years. I was told that I had been found guilty of misappropriating M84 000.
“This is not at all a suspension; it is effectively an expulsion from the party. However, I will remain a loyal BNP member and I will appeal the decision once the dust has settled,” Mr Lethobane told this publication.
This is not the first time the teacher-turned-politician has been accused of embezzlement of party funds.
Back in May this year, the party’s women and youth leagues accused him of going on a self-enrichment drive by misusing party funds while their activities suffered from lack of funding.
Both leagues vowed to push Lethobane out of the party as they felt he was not only mismanaging party funds but also a divisive figure.
Some of the losing contestants in the June 2021 BNP leadership elections accused him of electoral fraud to ensure current BNP leader MMachesetsa Mofomobe’s victory. The two are said to be close friends. Mr Lethobane has vehemently denied rigging the party polls to ensure Mr Mofomobe’s victory.
Mr Mofomobe powered to victory, polling 298 votes to beat his nearest challenger Professor Lehlohonolo Mosotho’s 62 votes. Mr Lesojane Leuta came in a distant third with just six votes.
Mr Mofomobe, who is also Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing minister, replaced former BNP leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, whose second and final tenure ended in March this year.
The polls were characterised by violence which claimed the life of a party member, ‘Mabuang Mazinyo, was shot in the head. Another party member, Mosoeunyane Sehapi, escaped with some injuries after being shot in the rib cage. No arrests have been made to date in connection with the shootings.