- says hell will freeze over before Prof Mahao is allowed to take over as deputy leader of the ABC
THE outgoing spokesperson of All Basotho Convention (ABC) Tefo Mapesela says “hell will freeze over” before they allow Professor Nqosa Mahao to assume the post of deputy leader of the ruling party.
Mr Mapesela said there was no way the outgoing ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) will accept Prof Mahao as their deputy leader because he was not eligible to stand in the party’s 1 and 2 February NEC elections where he beat more seasoned ABC politicians to clinch the post of deputy leader.
Prof Mahao garnered an unassailable 671 votes to beat his nearest challenger, Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro who garnered 524 votes.
Others who took part in the much-hyped contest were the former incumbent, Public Works and Transport minister Prince Maliehe who got 236 votes and former party chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, who brought up the rear with a meagre 89 votes. All in all, 1538 votes were cast and 14 of these were rejected in the high stakes winner-takes-all contest.
It was a sweet victory for Prof Mahao who had an 11th hour Court of Appeal order to thank for securing his place among the contestants.
Upon being nominated by the ABC’s Koro-koro Constituency Committee, Prof Mahao was disqualified by the then ABC’s national executive committee (NEC).
He was disqualified on the grounds that he had not “served at the party’s branch and constituency levels for at least 24 and 36 months” respectively as required by the ABC constitution.
The Koro-Koro committee however, challenged the ABC’s decision in the High Court and lost the case on 13 January 2019.
The Koro-Koro committee subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeal who ruled against Prof Mahao’s disqualification on 1 February, the very day that the ABC’s elective conference got underway.
This paved the way for Prof Mahao’s last minute inclusion in the contest which he eventually won.
But more than a month after the elections, Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC are yet to take over the reins due to a High Court challenge 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. They were recently granted an interim order by Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase barring the new NEC from assuming office until the finalisation of the main application seeking the nullification of their election.
In addition, the old NEC which includes Mr Mapesela has also refused to hand over power citing similar concerns.
And in a recent interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Mapesela came out guns blazing against Prof Mahao, saying the National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor is the source of the party’s problems because he jumped the que to stand in the elections when he was not eligible in the first place.
“He is the problem,” Mr Mapesela said of Prof Mahao.
“He is the problem because he didn’t qualify to stand for the elections and still doesn’t qualify to be part of the ABC’s NEC. We didn’t have problems all along and he knows very well that he does not qualify.”
Mr Mapesela said Prof Mahao even confessed at his Koro-Koro constituency rally last Sunday rally that he was not a member of the ABC until 2016 when ABC stalwart Chaltin Tsatsanyane convinced him “to join the ABC and become a deputy leader”.
“He (Prof Mahao) told the (Koro-Koro) rally that he was approached to come in and deputise the ABC leader. That means he didn’t follow all the processes as per the ABC constitution. Prof Mahao said he was reading a newspaper at his house when he was approached to come and deputise the ABC leader.
“How can he be the deputy leader when he was not even an ABC member when Ntate Chaltin approached him? He said it himself on Sunday that he was at his home reading his newspaper when Ntate Chaltin courted him and this is why I am saying he is a problem.
“He is the problem causing this confusion in the ABC, otherwise we didn’t have a problem. And if he is a respectful individual, why doesn’t he just back off, allow us and the new NEC to carry out its mandate?”
Mr Mapesela further accused Prof Mahao of behaving like a leader of the party, saying that his speeches at his rallies resembled those of a party leader, not a deputy leader.
He argued that a deputy leader would not instruct ABC members to go and “fight amongst each other” but rather to convince members of rival parties to join the ABC.
Mr Mapesela spoke to the Sunday Express to confirm that he was indeed responsible for an audio clip where he blamed Prof Mahao for all the ABC woes, likening him to a tokoloshe (a goblin) that had come into the ABC to destroy the party. In the audio clip, Mr Mapesela promised the factory workers that the ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will soon address the factory workers, saying “he still owes you a visit”.
Dr Thabane had been billed to address the Thetsane factory workers to invite them to attend the ABC leader’s rally at Likhoele constituency in Mafeteng today. Dr Thabane will be addressing party members for the first time since the ABC’s highly divisive 1 and 2 February elective conference.
So divided is the ruling party that there will be another competing rally to be addressed by the Prof Mahao’s camp in the Berea constituency today.
It had been anticipated that the old and new ABC NECs would begin negotiations on 7 March 2019 in line with the court ruling by the Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase but this has not happened.
And on Thursday, Mr Mapesela addressed the factory workers and told them that the outgoing committee was more than happy to hand over the reins to the new NEC as long Prof Mahao would not be party of the new NEC.
“Buses will come here to pick people going there (Likhoele) to make the leader’s (Dr Thabane’s) rally a success. I must inform you that the ABC’s NEC elections issue is being dealt with by the court of law but I am surprised that there is someone (Prof Mahao) delivering speeches at the rallies just like our leader would do, telling people that there is no one as educated as he is.
“Politics is not about educational background but making bold decisions. We don’t really care that you are a constitutional law expert but we take decisions that are pro-factory workers. We tell the factory owners to give factory workers M2000 salary per month or cross the Mohokare River and leave the country. We don’t need a professor for us to tell the Chinese nationals to pay factory workers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have a problem with the newly elected NEC; the person that we have a problem with is the one that entered the ABC elective conference with a court order. We don’t have a problem with the new NEC but that person who thinks he can take the ABC hostage must go,” Mr Mapesela said.
He argued that Prof Mahao must start his journey of being a deputy leader where all others began, alleging that Prof Mahao was not around during the ABC’s struggle with the previous Pakalitha Mosisili-led regime.
He alleged that Prof Mahao, whose brother and former army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao was assassinated during the Mosisili era in 2015, did not suffer like they did when retired army commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli and slain Lesotho Defence Force Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi were torturing them.
“Where was he (Prof Mahao) when Kamoli, Sechele and Hashatsi went around our houses at night? Where was he? I have never seen that person (Prof Mahao) at even one ABC rally. I first saw him at the Lehakoe (elective conference) wearing a brand-new ABC T-shirt but before that, I had never seen him at even one ABC rally.
“If your children enjoy a good sibling relationship and a tokoloshi came and divided him, what would you do? You would kick the tokoloshi when it comes into your house and rides on your children,” Mr Mapesela said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Prof Mahao made it clear that he would not going to give in to the outgoing NEC’s demands that he steps down from his post as deputy leader of the ABC. Prof Mahao told last Sunday’s rally in Koro-Koro that “Nqosa Mahao is not going anywhere”.
“The voice of the ABC electorate is not negotiable and we are not going for fresh elections. No fresh polls will happen, we will force democracy down their throats and you should therefore be still because you have made your own decisions (of voting the new NEC into power).
“It was in 2016 on a Sunday just like it is a Sunday today (10 March 2019). I was sitting in my house reading newspapers when I received a phone call from someone asking if I was at my place so they can visit me.
“I said yes and invited him to come through. That person arrived at my house telling me that he is Moeketsi Tsatsanyane. He said ‘Ntate Mahao I have come here to propose that you become a candidate for the deputy leader position in the ABC’. He is here, he can deny this if I am lying, that happened in 2016”.
“So when a certain member of parliament claims that he does not know Nqosa Mahao, I will simply say at least his father knows me and I am where I am today because his parent is one of the people that encouraged me to contest for the elections and it is against this background that I thank you Ntate Chaltin and many people that came through to encourage me to contest the elections. I also thank all the constituencies that voted this committee into power,” Prof Mahao said.