. . . as faction plots BNP leader’s ouster
EXILED Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane has called for a crisis meeting in Ladybrand today amid reports of a group of party members seeking his ouster.
The meeting would be held ahead of the BNP’s elective conference scheduled for 29 April to 1 May 2016 in Maseru during which the party is going to choose a new National Executive Committee (NEC).
Chief ‘Maseribane’s position is not being contested during the conference since he was nominated BNP leader in March 2011 for a five-year term. The BNP leader has been living in Ladybrand since he fled Lesotho in May last year saying he feared for his life.
However, BNP insiders have said a faction allegedly led by Secretary-General (SG) Lesojane Leuta would be targeting the party’s deputy leader, Joang Molapo, at the upcoming conference and if they succeed to remove him from the post, then pass a vote-of-no-confidence in Chief ‘Maseribane. Chief Molapo and other NEC members were elected in 2014 for two-year terms.
Among the BNP faithful expected to attend today’s meeting are 160 representatives from the country’s 80 constituencies and members of the NEC, and top of the agenda is the infighting and plot to remove Chief ‘Maseribane and Chief Molapo, the insiders further said.
However, Mr Leuta yesterday told the Sunday Express he would not attend the meeting for “security reasons”.
The SG wrote a letter to Chief Molapo, and copied it to Chief ‘Maseribane as well as other NEC members, indicating he would not attend today’s meeting in South Africa because he feared for his life.
In the letter dated 14 April 2016, Mr Leuta says he was “reliably informed by authoritative intelligence that there is a plot to kill me… Therefore, I won’t be able to attend any BNP meeting across the border.”
Mr Leuta told the Sunday Express he was advised by his lawyer not to attend the meeting.
“After careful consideration of the matter and advice from my lawyer, I decided not to attend any BNP meeting across the border because I fear for my life. I would be proud to die in my homeland and not in a foreign country,” he said.
Asked who was plotting to kill him and the reason behind such a plot, Mr Leuta said some of his BNP colleagues were not happy when he asked why the party was said to be broke when it had some income-generating assets.
“I felt it was misleading for executive members to declare that the party was broke to the media when they have failed to say what happened to the money,” he said.
“I believe I ruffled feathers when I doubted that the party was broke to the extent that it cannot hold conferences.”
Mr Leuta said he never said the money was stolen but that there was no clear financial report indicating what had happened to the funds.
“For instance, a property agent who has been running the BNP Centre owes our party a lot of money,” he said.
“I can’t be specific about the exact amount, but it should be millions. There are also other party assets and it is not clear where all the money they generate is going.”
The SG said he hired private security personnel “given the real risk to my safety”, adding that his family was also concerned about his well-being.
Contacted for comment, BNP spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe confirmed today’s meeting, telling the Sunday Express: “Morena Thesele has called a meeting for Sunday, 9 April 2016 in Ladybrand, South Africa. We can’t deny that a lot has happened in his absence and we are now heading for an elective conference.
“It’s time we hear what he has to say about the alleged factions in the party he is leading because he has been very quiet.
“We will also discuss the elective conference because it will be held in his absence. All in all, we are going to share opinions and map the way forward regarding the upcoming elective conference.”
However, Mr Mofomobe scoffed at the SG’s allegations of a plot to kill him, saying they suggested “a desperate man and attention-seeker”.
“These are desperate times for Ntate Leuta because he can foresee that his time as the party’s secretary-general has expired,” said Mr Mofomobe.
“It is not among his responsibilities to establish whether the party is making money or not. Only treasurer-general Mothepu Moliko has that mandate.”
He added there was no audit or financial report presented at any of the NEC meetings that showed financial irregularities.
For his part, Chief ‘Maseribane yesterday said Mr Leuta’s allegations had convinced him the SG needed “urgent medical attention”.
“Let me give you a brief background about Leuta and BNP NEC meetings,” said Chief ‘Maseribane.
“Leuta has always made excuses since 2014 that he was sick when he was supposed to attend NEC meetings. But what was shocking was he never got sick when he attended National Assembly portfolio committee meetings.
“Now that he claims he would be killed if he comes for tomorrow’s meeting, I think the sickness has intensified to damage his brain because I am not a murderer and have not killed anyone. Every time I call executive meetings, I don’t discuss killing party followers but party policies,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
“Leuta’s problem is he thinks he is the party’s jewel that can stop BNP business. He must know that he is not a threat either to me or the party and must stop the nonsense of bringing hearsay to ruin important party business.”