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Explain yourself, ABC tells Maliehe

…ABC chair asked to explain his public attack on the First Lady

ALL Basotho Convention chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, was yesterday served with a letter requesting him to explain his public attack on the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane two weeks ago at a rally in his Butha-Buthe constituency.

ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele confirmed the development last night but refused to give details “due to the sensitivity of the matter”.

Mr Ntsekele however, said the letter was in line with the party’s constitutional processes that require a party member or official to explain himself whenever they are believed to have crossed the line.

“As a party we have agreed not to divulge all details right now because of the sensitivity of this matter.

“All I can say is that we are following due process as required by the party constitution when a member has crossed the line they are not supposed to cross. This process should happen to facilitate mechanisms that will address issues recently raised by Mr Maliehe at a rally in Butha Buthe.

“We are not fighting the party chairman. Neither are we saying this process is aimed at firing him from cabinet or suspending him from the party. This is an internal process we cannot overlook because something happened that requires certain actions to be taken,” Mr Ntsekele said last night.

A fortnight ago, Mr Maliehe made headlines when he launched a blistering attack on Ms Thabane while addressing a rally in his Butha-Buthe constituency.

Mr Maliehe said Ms Thabane was fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.

The ABC chairman accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.

“One wonders what business the First Lady has in politics. The other time she said she would reprimand any minister who wasn’t performing. What is she and who does she think she is? Where does she get the powers to reprimand any minister,” a fuming Mr Maliehe said.

The fire spitting Mr Maliehe said he had decided to speak out regardless of the consequences to himself.  He said he did not care if his utterances would land him in trouble. His interest was in safeguarding the founding values of the party he said he had helped form.

It was on the basis of his utterances that the ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane allegedly said that Mr Maliehe should “pack his bags” and leave his party and government positions as he had fired himself with his unprecedented utterances.

However, all had seemed on course for a thawing of relations within the ABC after Dr Thabane addressed a rally last week in Mafeteng where he conceded that there was infighting in the ABC and issued an impassioned plea for unity.

Dr Thabane also lauded all those who had openly voiced their dissatisfaction, saying this proved that the ABC was a platform for healthy debates.

He acknowledged his own mistakes and said he too was not immune to censure as evidenced by the criticism he said had been directed at him by party supporters in his Ha Abia constituency.

He admitted that his government had fallen short when it came to service delivery, adding that the government’s deficiencies were exacerbated by the infighting within the ABC. He said that there was therefore a need for self-examination to regain the trust of the nation.

And when said without elaborating that the ABC Secretary General, Samonyane Ntsekele, had already started working to resolve the internal challenges, there was very little to suggest that disciplinary measures would be taken against Mr Maliehe.

However, Mr Ntsekele’s comments to our sister Lesotho Times publication suggested that the ABC’s national executive committee was contemplating measures which were disciplinary rather than conciliatory as Dr Thabane had suggested at his Mafeteng rally.

“I am not going to comment on this issue. What I can only tell you is that the NEC had several meetings last week and will continue to have meetings in order to reach a decision on the way forward after his statements. Until then, I won’t say anything,” Mr Ntsekele said on Wednesday.

And if anything was brewing, it appeared that Mr Maliehe was none the wiser as he was his usual effervescent self, mixing and mingling with government colleagues and the diplomatic corps at the launch of the Chinese movie festival at the Convention Centre in Maseru on Friday evening.

Mr Maliehe even gave the keynote address and sat very close to Mr Ntsekele throughout the proceedings.

The only hints that Mr Ntsekele knew that something could be brewing were suggested by the fact that the secretary general only made a brief salutation to Mr Maliehe when the former entered the conference room.

Mr Ntsekele proceeded to sit alone on one end of the row and only took his place close to Mr Maliehe after being called by an unidentified government official. Even then, the official sat between the two ABC and cabinet heavyweights.

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