THE ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s special conference slated for Friday hangs in the balance.
This follows an urgent application to stop the conference that was filed in the High Court by two party officials, Molati Putsoane and Sefali Mohlaoli.
They want the conference stopped on the grounds that there is a pending court case to determine who the genuine ABC national executive committee (NEC) is between the old NEC and the new one which was elected at the party’s 1-2 February 2019 elective conference.
Mr Putsoane is the chairperson of the ABC’s Qaqatu constituency committee in the Mohale’s Hoek district and Mr Mohlaoli is the secretary for the Hloahloeng Constituency Committee also in the Mohale’s Hoek district.
The conference was called by the outgoing ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele to resolve the debilitating power struggle between the party’s old and new NECs which threatens to split and even collapse the government.
The ABC has not known peace and stability in the aftermath of its 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference which ushered in a new NEC with former National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao as the deputy leader.
But the ‘new’ NEC has not been able to assume office due to fierce resistance from the old NEC who say Prof Mahao is a newcomer who should not be in the driving seat to succeed party leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when the latter eventually leaves office. Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC’s election has also been challenged in the High Court by ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana, Keketso Sello and ABC legislator Mohapi Mohapinyane on the grounds that there was “massive vote rigging”.
Prof Mahao and his camp have also announced plans for a no confidence vote against the Thabane regime over its refusal to allow them into office.
There have been widespread allegations that the old NEC intends to use the special conference to kick Prof Mahao and his supporters out of the party.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Ntsekele said the conference had simply been called to deal with the infighting and to find ways of re-uniting the fractious party.
“It is only when the special conference has been held that can anyone say for certain what has been decided with regards to the infighting and way forward in terms of re-uniting the party”.
And in their High Court application filed on Thursday, Messrs Putsoane and Mohlaoli argue that the conference must be stopped because it was called by the old NEC despite the fact that there is a pending court case to determine whether they (old NEC) or the new NEC are the genuine NEC of the ABC.
The duo state in their court papers that they were not notified of the special conference and therefore their constituencies will be prejudiced if the conference were to go ahead.
“If ever the emergency conference would go on as planned, our constituencies and all others that have not been notified will be highly prejudiced in that we will not participate as it is our right to do so in terms of the constitution of the party,” Mr Putsoane states in his affidavit.
Mr Putsoane said they were not informed of the planned conference and it should not be allowed to go ahead because they stood to “suffer irreparable harm in the sense that resolutions taken will have been taken without our participation”.
“Our participation is also important in that in that it would allow us to actively participate and not to be a rubber stamps of the decisions taken”.
The applicants’ lawyer, Adv Patsa Mohapi concurred with Mr Putsoane. More importantly, Adv Mohapi states that there is a pending court case to determine who the genuine ABC’s NEC is between the old NEC and new NEC which was elected at the party’s 1-2 February 2019 elective conference.
“If this conference proceeds on 14 June 2019 the constituencies chaired by the applicants will not be represented in that conference and such that they stand to suffer prejudice.
“There is a matter pending before High Court in which the court is yet to decide the proper identity of the national executive committee of the ABC.
“While that matter is still pending no conference can be called in good faith without undermining the rights of other interested parties,” Adv Mohapi states in the certificate of urgency which accompanied the court application.
The ABC, the old ABC’s NEC and Mr Ntsekele are the first to third respondents respectively.
They also want the court to stop the respondents from making any changes to the party structures until the finalisation of their application.