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Mahao-led NEC strengthens grassroots

  • trains grassroots on leadership, constitution
  • said it is doing away with personality cults

Pascalinah Kabi

THE Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) has embarked on a rigorous training exercise to capacitate its grassroots structures with leadership skills.

The Prof Mahao-led national executive committee (NEC) says the exercise is meant to rid the party of personality cults in all its 80 constituencies and branch committees. This will ensure that the party’s members follow and support the party instead of individuals, the NEC says.

The plan was communicated by ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele in a 19 September 2019 circular to the party structures.

The training programmes are scheduled to start on Wednesday in Maseru where members of the NEC will be trained on the founding principles of the party as well as working collectively for the advancement of the party.

This will be followed by separate trainings in Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek and Mafeteng on 28 September 2019. Other trainings will be held in Qacha’s Nek, Maseru and Berea on 5 October 2019 while the last trainings will take place on 12 October 2019 in Leribe and Butha-Buthe.

“In its 19 September 2019 meeting, the NEC agreed on the list of trainings for party branch, constituency and national executive committees,” Mr Hlaele said in the notice.

“All constituency committees are requested to make this initiative a success. The trainings will be coordinated by the NEC.”

In a subsequent interview with Sunday Express yesterday, Mr Hlaele said they decided to train all leadership structures of the party on the founding principles of the party to ensure that members follow and support the party, not individuals in the leadership structures.

The leadership programme comes hardly eight months after analysts warned that the power struggle in the ABC pitting the Mahao-led faction and the old committee would not have happened if the party had a more democratic constitution which does not vest too much power in the hands of the leader, Thomas Thabane.

The analysts said party constitutions should not be crafted to give leaders too much power as this could only lead to the creation of personality cults — a syndrome which spawned dictatorships, corruption and ultimately impeded the growth of democracy in many African countries.

In the case of the ABC, the analysts said that the old NEC had been emboldened in its resolve to cling to power and not to hand over the reins to the incoming NEC because it had the all-powerful party leader Dr Thabane on its side.

Section K of the ABC constitution states that “the founding leader of the ABC will have an honour of being a life president and he will consult with party leadership structures where necessary”.

And the Mahao-led faction now wants to do away with this trend and ensure that party members join and support the party solely on its principles not because of individuals in the party. Mr Hlaele said it was high time that party members were well-trained on the founding principles of the party.

“The purpose of the leadership trainings is to ensure that all party leadership structures – NEC, constituency and branch committees are well-trained on the founding principles of the party and that they know the party constitution like the back of their hand. We need to ensure that we do away with this tradition of personality cults in our party,” Mr Hlaele said.

He said there was a serious need in the party to ensure that all leadership structures worked as a collective. He said neither the leader nor the secretary general should feel more powerful than other individuals in the party.

He said the trainings were a continuous process whose positive outcome would only be demonstrated by the proper administration of the party from the grassroots to national level. Although the first round of trainings would only last for a month, Mr Hlaele said they would still hold other trainings in future to ensure that everyone understood what the ABC stood for.

“For instance, the term of the constituency committees ends soon and newly elected committees will still undergo this training. It is a continuous process, even NEC members are going through this training because we cannot claim to know everything about the party. This is why we are just coordinating these trainings.

“There is what we call institutional memory and the people who know the ABC, who were there when the party was formed – young and old – will take us through this process. The NEC is just there to assist,” he said.

Mr Hlaele rubbished suggestions that this was the new NEC’s way of entrenching itself in party grassroots structures as the impasse within the party continues. He said they were instead looking to entrench the party’s constitution and founding principles on the grassroots.

“We will not fall in the same trap of individualism in the party by following that route. We want the party to have a solid support base on the ground. We are entrenching the party in the minds of the people, not ourselves as individuals. This way, we will not have a similar situation of some people selling propaganda that some individuals don’t qualify to stand for elections,” he said.

Mr Hlaele opted not to dwell much on the talks between Dr Thabane and LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing ahead of the opening of parliament on 18 October 2019.  Dr Thabane is recruiting Mr Metsing to help him thwart an impending no confidence motion against him.

“Our programme is not linked to any other programme expect entrenching the ABC dictates on the grassroots level. We are focusing on this programme and the government is currently not part of our programme.”

“Our programme has nothing to do with that (Thabane/Metsing talks), our main focus is to build the party and ensure that we unite as one strong, formidable party,” Mr Hlaele said.

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