Knives out for Maseribane
- BNP leader accused of overstaying, underhand tactics to extend mandate,
- he must go now to avoid “war”, disgruntled party members demand.
DISGRUNTLED Basotho National Party (BNP) members have demanded the immediate removal of party leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane. They say the party should have held elections in December 2020 to choose his successor ahead of the expiry of his term on 27 March 2021.
The seven party members make the claims in their urgent High Court application filed on Thursday seeking the removal of Chief ‘Maseribane. They also want BNP deputy leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe to hold fort until a new leader is elected.
They say their application must be treated with urgency and warn of “war and anarchy” within the party if Chief ‘Maseribane, who is also Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing, is not removed from the BNP leadership.
The seven applicants are prominent BNP members ‘Mota Nkuatsana, Moorosi Moshoeshoe, Emmanuel ‘Mako, Lesiamo Molapo, Mochai Mochai, Matobo Mabathoana and Michael Mohasi.
The BNP, BNP national executive committee (NEC), Chief ‘Maseribane and Mr Mofomobe are the first to fourth respondents respectively in the application.
The applicants state that Chief ‘Maseribane became the BNP leader on 27 March 2011. They state that in terms of section 11(8) (c) of the BNP constitution, a leader can only hold office for a maximum of 10 years.
They argue that Chief ‘Maseribane’s term expired on 27 March 2021 which is 10 years to the date when he first assumed the reins. They further argue that the BNP should have elected a new leader last December and Chief ‘Maseribane should have formally handed over to the new leader when his term expired on 27 March 2021.
They are challenging the NEC’s 10 March 2021 circular which states that Chief ‘Maseribane’s tenure only ends on 13 June 2021.
They accuse Chief ‘Maseribane and his fellow respondents of “intending to breach the constitution of the BNP in that they want to extend the term in office of the leader of BNP beyond the prescribed maximum period of 10 years for which a person can be a leader of BNP”.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Nkuatsana says, “I aver that Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane having been in office from 27 March 2011, his last day in office shall be 26 March 2021.
“In the alternative, his last day in office is 28 March 2021. In that last alternative, from 29 March 2021 he should no longer be the leader of BNP.
“It is clear that the party’s constitution is being undermined. The leader has not announced his intention to vacate office. The secretary general (Tšepo Lethobane) has not announced the period from 26 to 28 March 2021 as the time for vacation of office by the leader.
“I submit that the proper conference for the election of the leader of BNP ought to have been in December 2020 so that on 27 March 2021, the new leader takes the leadership reins.
“I submit that this (NEC) Circular no. 2 of 10 March 2021 seeks to extend the term of office of the leader of BNP which expires on 26 March 2021 such that on 27 March 2021 he should no longer be leader of the BNP. It follows that the constitution of the BNP should be adhered to. It is a contract between members of the BNP or between the BNP and its members.”
Mr Nkuatsana implores the court not to allow Chief Maseribane to continue holding himself as the BNP leader, saying there will be an anarchy if he is allowed to remain in office.
“I submit that the matter is urgent. I submit that the leader of BNP should not be allowed to extend his term beyond 27 March 2021.
“It is very wrong for African leaders like Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane to force to amend the constitution to get a third term instead of going home when their time has expired. It will be wrong for the leader to act with continuous illegality by holding himself as the leader at BNP beyond the end of term of his office. It is a contention that I hold with my co-applicants that the leader of BNP does not have the right to call or carry out himself as a leader of BNP from 28 March 2021 onwards.
“The act of the leader of not vacating office leads to anarchy. The court of law shall enforce the law and prevent the anarchy that is eminent in the BNP by exercising discretion to deal with the matter urgently to preserve peace. The anarchy that is eminent involves the person who is under guard by soldiers of His Majesty King Letsie III. I am apprehensive that there shall be a full-blown war if the leader does not vacate office by 26, 27 and 28 March 2021,” Mr Nkautsana states. He however, does not elaborate on the issue.
In terms of final reliefs, Mr Nkautsana and his co-applicants want the High Court to order that, “the leader of BNP, Chief Thesele Maseribane’s maximum term in office as leader of BNP ended on the 26 March 2021.
“That it be declared that from 27 March 2021 the office of leader of BNP is vacant. That from 27 March 2021, the deputy leader of BNP, Machesetsa Mofomobe, automatically assumes leadership and discharges functions of leader of BNP pending an elective conference for the election of the leader of BNP.
“That Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane is precluded from standing for elections as a candidate for the position of leader of BNP beyond 27 March 2021. That the national executive committee of Basotho National Party be directed to announce and call for holding of the elective conference in accordance with the constitution of BNP. That beyond 27 March 2021, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane be interdicted from holding himself as the leader of BNP. That all acts done by Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane from 27 March 2021 onwards purporting to exercise the powers of the leader of BNP are null and void.”
Mr Nkautsana also argues that the BNP owns several buildings in the country which cannot continue to be under the control of Chief ‘Maseribane as he is no longer the rightful leader of the party.
He further alleges that M10 million belonging to the BNP from rentals of its properties cannot be accounted for and is yet to be investigated.
“I submit that the BNP owns infrastructure that runs into millions of Maloti. The BNP has infrastructural property in all towns and smaller towns of Lesotho. I submit that, arguably the BNP has more property than any other political party in Lesotho.
“I submit that the funds of the BNP should be, at all costs, preserved from further mismanagement and control by party officials who no longer have standing in terms of the party’s constitution. I apply urgently with my co-applicants to preserve the dissipation of funds amongst other things. I submit that there is M10 millions of rent which has dissipated. I submit that the foregoing issue is yet to be criminally investigated.
“I submit that there is a controversy which relates to the money which was alleged to have been coming from benefactors which has not been captured in any financial reports of BNP. I submit that there is a big issue about the financial reports from accountants. The interests of the party to be protected include the administration of its finances which would not be dealt with by the person without power,” Mr Nkautsana states.
The High Court is yet to hear the application. Over the weekend, the applicants’ lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, told this publication that the application will be heard on Thursday.