Lebesa angers ABC mourners
ALL Basotho Convention (ABC)’s Koro-koro constituency committee chairperson, Phohleli Phohleli, and other mourners, were recently angered by the fractious party’s senator, Mphonyane Lebesa, who turned the funeral of Mr Phohleli’s son into a platform for discussing the infighting in the ABC.
The ABC has not known peace ever since the Koro-koro constituency committee nominated former National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor, Professor Nqosa Mahao for the deputy leader’s post at the party’s national executive committee (NEC) elections which were held in February 2019.
Prof Mahao won the post despite strong opposition from ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and some senior party officials who argued that Prof Mahao was a relative newcomer who should not be parachuted to the powerful position ahead of seasoned party stalwarts. The impasse has resulted in court litigations and counter-litigations. At one time the Koro-koro constituency committee was suspended and was only reinstated after petitioned the courts of law.
Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao’s bitter power struggle is currently before the courts with the latter challenging his and his allies’ 17 June 2019 expulsions from the party by Dr Thabane. Prof Mahao and his NEC allies also “suspended” Dr Thabane from the party for six years and installed Prof Mahao as the interim ABC leader.
Much to the chagrin of Mr Phohleli and other mourners at the Saturday funeral, Mr Lebesa, who backs Dr Thabane, used the occasion to criticise unnamed ABC members for seeking to destroy the party.
Mr Phohleli referenced the biblical story of King Solomon to make his point. He spoke about how two women fought over a child and took their dispute over who was the child’s mother to King Solomon. He said the woman who was not the child’s mother had no qualms in having the child cut up into two and divided between the feuding women because she did not a parent’s fondness for the child.
Although he did not mention names, this was interpreted as a covert attack on Prof Mahao, accusing him of seeking the ABC’s destruction because he was not a founding member like Dr Thabane.
According to Mr Phohleli, Mr Lebesa uttered the “distasteful” remarks after forcing himself onto the funeral programme of speakers.
“Koro-koro MP, Ntate Motebang Koma, had just taken the stand to convey his condolences when he realised that Water Affairs Minister (and former ABC chairperson), Samonyane Ntsekele, was present. As a sign of respect, he (Mr Koma) stood down to give Mr Ntsekele the chance to speak first.
“It was then that Lebesa came and snatched the microphone from Ntsekele and started talking. We wanted to stop him but decided otherwise and before we knew it he started saying all sorts of things pertaining to the ABC infighting and read from the book of Solomon where two women fought over a baby.
“The mourners were restless and started murmuring. Some even wanted to reprimand him. I was not happy and none of the family were. Prior to that, Prof Mahao had offered his condolences and we were honoured because he had soothed us with his words and not said anything about the ABC fracas. All the things Lebesa said hurt us in a big way.
“I am still reeling from that pain because as the father of the deceased I was insulted and disrespected. If I had also lost my cool, all hell could have broken lose. He is a very young man and I will not keep a grudge but I am not happy with what he did,” Mr Phohleli said.
Mr Lebesa was unrepentant when contacted for comment over the issue.
“I emphasised that Thomas Thabane was the only leader of ABC. I elaborated on the party’s fracas and said that anyone who had not toiled for something would not embrace and support it just like the woman in the biblical book who wanted another woman’s baby to be killed and divided in two. But I did not mention any names.
“I didn’t direct the reading at anyone and therefore I don’t feel the need to apologise. I did not write the bible but I just took some wise words from it.
“I admit that people were not happy but to be heated, I didn’t mention any names. I could be that they felt I was exposing them. It was a noisy and tense situation. But when I went to the gravesite the deceased’s father came to me and lauded me for my address,” Mr Lebesa said.
His claims were dismissed by Mr Phohleli who said Mr Lebesa never went to the gravesite.