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Coalition partners speak on ABC chaos

  • say they are worried by the ABC infighting
  • but they will not interfere or take sides

Pascalinah Kabi

TWO of the coalition partners of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) say the latter should be left alone to deal with the potentially damaging fissures that escalated in the run up to its disputed national executive committee (NEC) elections which were held on 1 to 2 February in Maseru.

The Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Thesele Maseribane-led Basotho National Party (BNP) said while they had resolved not to interfere in internal affairs of the Thomas Thabane-led ABC, they hoped the latter would speedily and amicably resolve its internal power struggles so that it re-focuses its energies on the national governance issues.

AD spokesperson Thuso Litjobo said they were extremely “worried by what is happening in the ABC”. Mr Litjobo however, said they would remain neutral and allow the warring ABC parties to eventually find each other for the sake of the internal cohesion of the party and the smooth functioning of government.

The AD and BNP said this in the wake of the infighting which has rocked the ABC since the elective conference which saw Professor Nqosa Mahao poll 693 votes to clinch the deputy leader’s post ahead of the likes of Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro (546 votes), former acting incumbent, Public Works and Transport minister Prince Maliehe (245 votes) and outgoing party chairperson Motlohi Maliehe (97 votes) at the ABC’s elective conference in Maseru from 1 to 2 February 2019.

Lebohang Hlaele, the Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs secured 618 votes to wrestle the secretary general’s post from the former incumbent Samonyane Ntsekele who polled 422 votes.

In the chairperson’s election, Mosalemane constituency legislator Samuel Rapapa polled 829 votes to beat Senator Kemiso Mosenene (380 votes), Defence and National Security minister Tefo Mapesela (239 votes), Lithoteng legislator Lehlohonolo Moramotse (71 votes) and Maliepetsana legislator Mpalipali Molefe (43 votes).

The LCN announced the rest of the new NEC line-up as follows: Chalane Phori (deputy chairperson), Nkaku Kabi (deputy secretary general), Tlali Mohapi (treasurer), Likhapha Masupha (secretary), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and ‘Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson).

However, Prof Mahao and the rest of the winners will have to wait longer to know when, if at all, they will be allowed to take up their positions in the party’s NEC.

Instead of assuming power, the new NEC found the door literally shut in their faces last week when the old NEC refused them entry into the party’s offices. In the ensuing chaos, the new NEC was forced to hold its first press conference in the open space behind the Metcash Building in Maseru’s central business district.

Three members of the new NEC, namely Lebohang Hlalele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson) and Montoeli Masoetsa (Spokesperson) found themselves having to dispel rumours of a possible split in the party due to the disputed election outcome.

And as if this was not enough, two cabinet ministers who contested and lost last Monday filed a High Court application seeking the annulment of the results of NEC elections.

The ministers are Habofanoe Lehana (Trade and Industry) and Keketso Sello (Mining). Mr Lehana contested and lost the polls for the deputy secretary general’s post which was won by Health minister Nkaku Kabi.

Mr Sello contested and lost the election for the treasurer’s post which was won by Tlali Mohapi.

Messrs Lehana and Sello joined forces with the ABC’s legislator for the Rothe constituency, Mohapi Mohapinyane, to launch an urgent High Court application seeking the nullification of the election of Professor Nqosa Mahao and others to the party’s NEC. They also want the court to order fresh elections within three months of the finalisation of their court application.

The trio warned of “chaos and bloodshed” in the ABC if the outcome of the polls is not reversed.

And in the aftermath of the threats of cataclysmic violence which could spell the death knell for the ABC, its governing partners are maintaining a hands-off approach in the hope that the biggest party in government will resolve its issues on its own.

The AD and BNP said when they drew up the coalition agreement, the four parties (including the Keketso Rantšo-led Reformed Congress of Lesotho) they took the “sober decision” to allow each partner to deal with its internal problems on its own without any interference.

BNP spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe said “all the four coalition partners have had their own share of internal problems and that each partner was allowed to solve such issues without any interference”.

“We chose to form a coalition government because there was that common understanding that we want to work together in government as political friends. That is why you will see me gracing the AD rally, popping-in at the ABC rally and Ntate Moleleki will pop-in at the BNP founder Chief Leabua Jonathan’s memorial lecture.

“We all have our own internal issues as political parties. The BNP has its own share, so does the AD and the ABC but those issues are left for the individual parties to resolve in accordance with their own internal remedies provided by their respective constitutions.

“It is not for us to take any side and say Team Thabane or Team Mahao is right, ours is to provide the support they need and let them solve their own problems. It is for the ABC members to decide which team is wrong or right.

“But we are talking to each other and they (ABC) have assured us that they are not going to fall in the trap of allowing their internal fights to cause the government to collapse. So, it is up to the ABC to solve its own problems. We just wish them well and hope that they will ultimately find a long-lasting solution to their problems,” Mr Mofomobe said.

On his part, AD spokesperson Thuso Litjobo said his party would continue to support the ABC at all times without interfering in its affairs. He said his party will always strive for peace and tolerance among political parties.

“We are very worried by what is happening in the ABC. We are trying to assist where possible while maintaining neutrality. We are not supporting any sides in the ABC but are hoping that they will ultimately find ways of peacefully working together,” Mr Litjobo said.

He said it was important for every political party to be stable at all times to ensure that they do not deviate from their founding principles.

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