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Mahao turns to the bible in ABC war

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

PROFESSOR Nqosa Mahao says the fight by the two All Basotho Convention (ABC) national executive committee (NEC) factions for the control of the party is reminiscent of the biblical story where two women’s fight over a child could have led to the death of the child had it not been for the wisdom of King Solomon.

Prof Mahao likened the ABC’s old and new NEC’s power struggle to that of the two women in the biblical book of First Kings chapter three where the two women took their dispute of the parentage of a child to King Solomon.

In that story, the woman who falsely claimed to be the baby’s mother urged King Solomon to kill the child by cutting it into two and handing her one portion.

The real mother of the child begged King Solomon not to kill the child but hand it over to the other woman and by judging their reactions, King Solomon was thus able to ascertain who the real mother of the child was and duly handed the child over to its mother.

And in his address to thousands of ABC supporters at a weekend rally in the Berea 27 constituency, Prof Mahao made reference to the biblical story but did not explain it in any way that would show the direction he intended to take in his fight with his rivals for control of the party.

Prof Mahao contested and won the deputy leader’s post against ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wishes. His victory put him in good stead to eventually succeed Thabane in both the party and in the government.

However, Prof Mahao and the rest of the newly elected NEC have not been able to assume office after their election was challenged by three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe).

The trio allege that the polls were marred by gross irregularities which made it impossible to achieve a credible outcome.

The trio’s court challenge will be heard tomorrow with the judgement expected on Friday. On 6 March this year, Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase put the case on hold and gave the two ABC factions until 19 March 2019 to resolve their differences which threaten to split the party and even bring down the current coalition government.

Justice Mahase issued the order after the two ABC factions consented to talks aimed at reaching an out of court settlement.

The talks, however, failed to kick off amid claims by some ABC sources that one of the sticking points was the demand by the old NEC that Prof Mahao and Mr Hlaele relinquish their posts in the new NEC. Ahead of the resumption of their court battle, the two factions addressed separate rallies in Berea and Mafeteng. The old NEC’s rally was addressed by Dr Thabane who accused the Court of Appeal of imposing Prof Mahao on the ABC by quashing the ABC’s disqualification Prof Mahao from the February polls. Prof Mahao had been disqualified on the grounds that he had not served the required time in the ABC structures before being eligible to contest.

Prof Mahao addressed a competing rally in Berea where he spoke in riddles, drawing on the biblical story of King Solomon.

Without saying whether or not he was ready to throw in the towel, Prof Mahao urged the party members to emulate the biblical woman whose determination to save her child’s life was such that she even agreed to give it up to her rival.

“Let us be like the woman in the bible who gave up her baby instead of having him killed,” Prof Mahao said, adding, “That noble act led King Solomon to judge in favour of the mother who cared for the life of her baby”.

Attempts to get Prof Mahao to elaborate proved fruitless as he was immediately whisked away by his security team to his vehicle soon completing his speech.

Further attempts to reach him also failed as he did not answer his mobile phone. He did not respond to messages sent to him.

However, some sources close to the new NEC faction said Prof Mahao’s statements should not be construed to mean that he was ready to give in to his rivals’ demands that he steps down.

“The professor (Mahao) will not bow down to the old NEC and step down. If anything, we will await the High Court verdict and if it is unfavourable, we will challenge it in the Court of Appeal. Prof Mahao simply used the biblical scripture to illustrate the fact that the old NEC is illegitimately clinging onto an office which is not rightfully theirs as the fake mother of the child sought to do,” the source said.

Besides Prof Mahao, the old NEC has also opposed the election of Dr Thabane’s son-in-law, Lebohang Hlaele to the post of secretary general.

Mr Hlalele, who is married to Dr Thabane’s daughter, ‘Mabat?oeneng Hlaele, recently told the Sunday Express that he would not give up his position just to satisfy selfish individuals.

He said he would only give up the position if the electorate told him to do so.

Mr Hlaele said in any event the old NEC had not formally communicated their opposition to his assumption of his new party post, so he would not waste his time on the issue.

“I did not elect myself into the NEC but the people elected me. Until such a time when the people tell me to give up the position, I will not do so. I will gladly give it up if the electorate tell me to do so,” Mr Hlaele said.

A fortnight ago Mr Hlaele told a packed Lithabaneng rally that there was a plot to assassinated him and the plot had been hatched at the State House, the official residence of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

The former Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Minister said he was ready to die for the ABC if his “blood would help re-unite the party”.

And in the recent interview with this publication, Mr Hlaele said he remained wary and had to constantly check his surroundings to ensure his safety.

“The (assassination) plan is still on. I just do not know the minute, the week or the month that they plan to strike. In the meantime, I have to be constantly looking over my shoulders,” Mr Hlaele said.



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