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Machakela defects to new party

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — The All Basotho Convention (ABC) chairman Sello Machakela has defected to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s newly formed Democratic Congress (DC), the Sunday Express has learnt.
A senior DC official told this paper that Machakela was on Wednesday introduced to a caucus of DC MPs as one of the party’s newest members.
The caucus was held a day after parliament had adjourned “sine die” in preparation for the May 26 general election.
The official who was also part of the caucus meeting said Machakela was introduced to DC MPs as a member of the party.
“We were told that Machakela was now a new member of the DC and that his family had also been welcomed to join under him,” the source said.
Machakela defected from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) to Thomas Thabane’s ABC in 2006.
At the time of his defection he was labour minister in the LCD administration which made him one of the most prominent people to join the ABC.
He became a member of Thabane’s inner circle until a few months ago when the relationship soured.
Machakela dragged the ABC to court on grounds that the party had barred him from contesting the May election in Malimong constituency.
The case is still pending in the High Court with judgment expected to be delivered on Wednesday.
On February 29 Machakela voted with the DC and National Independent Party (NIP) MPs in a confidence vote for Mosisili.
This was despite the fact that Machakela’s opposition colleagues walked out in protest against the motion.
DC secretary general Ralechate ‘Mokose last week said the onus was on Machakela “to confirm or dispute” that he had joined the DC.
But another senior official of the DC confirmed on Friday that Machakela had indeed joined the DC.
“It is true that he has joined us. But I don’t know if he’s in a position to comment on the record as yet,” the official said.
“There is procedure to be followed before one can be declared an absolute member. It (the process) has not yet been completed.”
Machakela told this paper that although he had been in talks with the DC on a couple of occasions he had not yet joined the party.
“It’s true I’ve been in talks with the DC, but I’ve also had similar meetings with other political parties,” Machakela said.
“One resigns from his party if there’s a letter to show for it and I haven’t submitted mine as yet.”
However, Machakela admitted that he was fed up with the ABC.
“When I voted with the DC in parliament, the ABC leader went on radio to say he saw me pulling up my trousers and crossing the river,” Machakela said.
“He only said that because of the case I have against the ABC in the High Court where I’m challenging the party’s decision to bar me from contesting elections.”
Machakela said he was disappointed with the way the ABC is dealing with issues.
“It’s not the kind of a political party I’d thought it would be. The manner in which it handles issues is not satisfactory,” he said.
“It gets worse when one considers the impact this could have on their political future. Because of such issues, you end up searching for a new political home.”
Asked if by a new political home he meant the DC, Machakela laughed and said “ideal leaders sat down with members of their parties instead of throwing stones”.
“The DC leader is one of the finest leaders I’ve come across, although he has weaknesses which we all have as human beings. I’ve been with Mosisili for a very long time, we had difference of opinion,” Machakela said.
“But he’s a tolerant leader who also makes time to listen and gives you a platform to air your views on issues.”
ABC secretary-general Thabiso Lits’iba told the Sunday Express that although the party had not yet received Machakela’s resignation they had heard rumours he had joined the DC.
“That he has officially been introduced to the DC as its member is news to me. But I can confirm that we’ve heard rumours that he and a group from Malimong have joined the DC,” Lits’iba said.
“We’re yet to receive his resignation from the ABC. But the surprising part about this is that he still has a case against the ABC pending in the High Court.”
However, Lits’iba said Machakela’s decision, if it was true, was not shocking because he had voted with the DC in parliament recently.
“We wait to hear when he intends to resign from the ABC because he has not yet done so,” Lits’iba said.

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