THE secretary general of the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led national executive committee (NEC) faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lebohang Hlaele, says it is only a matter of time before they win the power struggle and replace the outgoing NEC of the beleaguered ruling party.
Mr Hlaele dismissed claims by the outgoing ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele who branded the new NEC rebels for allegedly defying and plotting to oust ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. Mr Ntsekele made the claims after the new NEC decided against attending two recent rallies that were organised by the outgoing NEC and addressed by Dr Thabane a fortnight ago in Likhoele, Mafeteng and last week in Hololo, Butha-Buthe.
Instead of attending, the new NEC held their own rallies on the same dates, a fortnight ago in the Berea 27 constituency and last week in the Mosalemane constituency in the Berea district. The new NEC’s decision to address separate competing rallies did not go down well with Mr Ntsekele and his colleagues in the old NEC who labelled their rivals rebels who had to be dealt with for defying and plotting against Dr Thabane.
“The writeup on the leader (Dr Thabane’s rally posters) is clear that no rallies should be held alongside that of the leader. Those who go ahead with such rallies will have been rebellious in their conduct. Such behaviour will be dealt with by the relevant ABC committee,” Mr Ntsekele told the Sunday Express last week. He however, did not explain what the disciplinary measures entailed.
But in his address to factory workers in Thetsane, Maseru factory workers on Thursday, Mr Hlaele scoffed at Mr Ntsekele’s threats.
Mr Hlaele said Mr Rapapa said Mr Ntsekele was in no position to make any threats or take any action against them as he lost the 1-2 February NEC elections which ushered in the new NEC which has Prof Mahao in its ranks as the deputy leader and Mr Rapapa as the chairperson.
Despite their victory, Prof Mahao, Mr Hlaele and their colleagues in the new NEC have not be able to assume office because of fierce resistance from the old NEC and a court challenge by ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana (Local Government and Chieftainship), Keketso Sello (Mining) and ABC legislator, Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe constituency).
The trio want the court to nullify the outcome of the 1-2 February NEC elections on the grounds that they were marred by vote rigging and order fresh polls within three months of their application.
On 6 March 2019, the Acting Chief Justice Maseforo Mahase barred the old NEC from making any serious decisions including the discipling or firing of any party member until the finalisation of the court case brought by the trio.
It was against the background of Justice Mahase’s order that Mr Hlaele said Mr Ntsekele and his colleagues in the old NEC were in no position to make any threats. He said in any event, the old NEC lost at the ABC’s 1-2 February 2019 NEC elections and they would have to hand over power to the rightful NEC soon.
He said instead the rebels were the old NEC who were clinging to power despite losing the NEC elections in February. Mr Hlaele and Mr Ntsekele faced off in the contest for the secretary general’s post and the latter lost after polling 422 votes against Mr Hlaele’s 618 votes.
Futho Hoohlo and Sello Maphalla were the other contestants for the secretary general’s post and they obtained 275 and 230 votes respectively.
Mr Hlaele is deputised by the Minister of Health, Nkaku Kabi, who polled 428 votes to beat his nearest challenger, Mpeoa Maoshoa who obtained 346 votes.
“When you look at the outcome of the NEC elections, I got more votes than Ntsekele and the gap between us is almost 200 votes,” Mr Hlaele said, adding that Mr Ntsekele and his old NEC colleagues had to respect the ABC electorate’s choice.
“They (old NEC) have to stop saying that they will deal with the rebels. Who are the rebels between us and them? I am an ABC member and I was voted in by ABC members under the leadership of Tom Thabane. So, who is the rebel?
As ABC members, we must respect the courts of law and abide by judgements. The courts have instructed the outgoing committee to hold office temporarily and when the courts instruct you to hold office temporarily you are expected to act as such. Ntsekele and his companions are just holding office temporarily on our behalf there. He is temporarily there on my behalf because I’m the one who was voted for by the ABC members.”
Mr Hlaele who was flanked by the incoming chairperson Samuel Rapapa appealed to the factory workers to remain loyal to the ABC, saying its challenges were only temporary and the power struggle will soon be resolved once Justice Mahase recovers from the illness which prevented her from hearing the court challenge on the NEC polls last week.
Justice Hlaele is expected to return to work this week.
“I’m sure you are still ABC followers under the leadership of Dr Thabane who remains the only leader of the ABC. I want to appeal to you not to be shaken up because in the struggle of power there are such paths which will have to be passed.
Mr Hlaele moved to say Acting Chief says he is sick only to postpone the court case hearing adding that tomorrow (Friday) she will still be sick.
“Justice Mahase is sick but she will wake up from the sickness and return to work to give us the verdict,” Mr Hlaele said.
The new NEC’s rally at the factories followed hot on the heels of similar rally that was addressed a fortnight ago by Dr Thabane and the old NEC.
The factories are the latest theatre were the ABC power struggle is playing out after the courts and the rallies in the constituencies.