TWO distinct factions supporting Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader hopefuls, Joang Molapo and Machesetsa Mofomobe, have emerged ahead of the party’s much-delayed national executive committee (NEC) elections.
Mr Molapo is the incumbent while Mr Mofomobe is currently the party spokesperson. The duo are vying for the post of the BNP’s deputy leader at the party’s elective conference to be held on a date that is yet to be announced. The conference had initially been set for March this year but it was postponed indefinitely to make way for the BNP women’s league elective conference this month.
The postponement did not however, stop the duo from the campaigning which was then characterised by highly personalised vitriolic attacks against each other.
Chief Molapo, who is the current BNP deputy leader, was the first to let rip at his campaign rally in Hlotse, Leribe in March, describing Mr Mofomobe as an immature and unpredictable politician who was given to posturing on social media and radio instead of focusing on his responsibilities as a party official and government official. Chief Molapo said Dr Thabane was in fact “a merciful prime minister” for not having disciplined Mr Mofomobe, who is also the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, for his alleged errant behaviour.
Mr Mofomobe would not have any of this and subsequently hit back by ridiculing Chief Molapo as “an infidel” and lover of the congress parties and in particular Mr Metsing. Mr Mofomobe said Mr Metsing was a personal friend of the outgoing BNP deputy leader.
Mr Mofomobe subsequently issued a public apology to Mr Molapo, a development which appeared to have ended the feuding in April.
But despite the two appearing to smoke the peace pipe, the feuding has not ended and if anything, it appears to be intensifying as evidenced by the emergence of two factions backing either candidate’s aspirations.
Those backing Mr Molapo have been christened the Makh’oeshkh’oesh — a disparaging reference to the deputy leader’s English accent. Mr Mofomobe’s backers have been dubbed the Bachana (which translates to cousins). Mr Mofomobe is a cousin to BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and there are widespread beliefs that he enjoys the latter’s support in his bid to wrestle the deputy leader’s post from Mr Molapo.
Bachana faction members from various constituencies recently converged at the party’s headquarters in Maseru where they signed a petition against a High Court application that was filed to interdict the party against holding its conference to elect new members of the national executive committee (NEC).
The application was filed on 2 July 2019 by seven BNP members who allegedly belong to the Makh’oeshkh’oesh faction. The applicants have since won the case after High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara on Thursday ruled that the conference which had been slated to run from Friday until today, was being held in contravention of the party’s constitution which stipulates that it can only be held after members have been notified 90 days in advance.
Prior to the Thursday judgement, the Bachana faction members had signed the petition in which they condemned the seven applicants’ move to petition the courts, saying the applicants rushed to court without exhausting internal conflict resolution mechanisms.
“This is a very bad and unusual act meant to depict the party as one that can’t resolve its issues. This act of cowardice is unseemly for BNP members who know that they are always free to voice their concerns when there is such need. What is even more disheartening is the fact that there are three prominent members of our party who have paid the cost of the lawsuit, hiding behind the applicants.
“We appeal to all members of BNP and the NEC to reprimand these (seven) members and help them repent from their weaknesses and become true members of the party,” part of the petition states.
BNP’s National Organiser of the Youth League Mojaki Moiloa, who also heads Mofomobe’s campaign team, said the developments suggested that the party could be headed to a split. He however, said they were willing to make peace with Mr Molapo in the event that the latter won the elections.
“We really want to see the party grow rather than splitting and so we are ready to make peace with Morena Joang’s faction should they win the elections,” Mr Moiloa said.
The BNP is a junior partner in the governing coalition which includes Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Labour Minister Keketso Rantšo’s Reformed Congress of Lesotho (LCD).
All the parties in the governing coalition have their share of infighting but the fallout between ABC leader Dr Thabane and his deputy Professor Nqosa Mahao poses the greatest threat to the survival of the government.