TWO disgruntled former All Basotho Convention (ABC) stalwarts, Katiso Phasumane and Futho Hoohlo, have formed their own party.
Dubbed the Empowerment Movement for Basotho (EMB), Messrs Phasumane and Hoohlo’s party, was formally unveiled at a press conference in Maseru on Tuesday.
Mr Phasumane comes in as president while Mr Hoohlo, the former Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) CEO, is the secretary general.
The new party was announced barely two days after the ABC leadership conference in Maseru where former cabinet minister Nkaku Kabi polled 723 votes to clinch the ABC leaders’ post ahead of Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro (609 votes) and former secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele (84 votes).
It is the sixth party to be formed by disgruntled ABC members ever since the ruling party was formed in 2006. Currently, Lesotho has a staggering 46 registered political parties competing for the votes from an electorate numbering a paltry 1 240 537, according to the last population census conducted in 2016.
Speaking at the launch of the new party, Mr Phasumane said they were tired by the infighting in the ABC hence their decision to jump ship and form their own party.
“I left ABC because we were now tormenting one another and we could see that the train had gone off the rails just as the party’s former leader, Thomas Thabane once predicted,” Mr Phasumane said.
“We don’t want to be hired by the government. Instead, we want to create our own jobs. We envision a Lesotho with a notable private sector growth where small enterprises will thrive.
“We are not going to solve anything on our own, but together we can. Hence, we are calling on everyone to come to the table and discuss ideas and possible solutions unlike the current government which just imposes policies that are not well thought-out like the National Development Strategic Plan.
“Lesotho embraced the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 but seven years down the line, most people still have no access to clean water and sanitation. The roads are full of potholes and this is not the Lesotho we want.
“Everything is politicised and there is no accountability at all because we have allowed the government to do as it pleases. We are saying that this shouldn’t be the case. Let’s all come together and reprimand one another,” Mr Phasumane added.
Mr Hoohlo was WASCO CEO until his dismissal by the company’s board of directors allegedly for various misconduct including claims that he violated WASCO policies by seconding a senior WASCO employee to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) set up in 2020 by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to coordinate the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EMB is the sixth party to have been formed by disgruntled ABC members.
Senkatana Social Democratic Party (SSDP), led by Lehlohonolo Tšehlana, was the first splinter party to be formed in 2008.
In April 2021, former ABC deputy leader Nqosa Mahao jumped ship and formed his Basotho Action Party (BAP). He alleged that there had been plot to oust him from the party by Prime Minister Majoro, ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele and Mr Thabane.
That same month, Mokhotlong legislator Tefo Mapesela also left the ABC to form the Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP). This after falling out with Dr Majoro who he described as the “worst-ever prime minister”.
Before that in October 2017, ABC activist, Teboho Mojapela, left to form the Socialist Revolutionaries Party (SRP). At the time, Mr Mojapela said his aim was to oversee a political paradigm shift in which the views and aspirations of the electorate are respected.
In January 2017, former ABC deputy leader, Tlali Khasu, formed the True Reconciliation Unity (TRU) party after falling out with Mr Thabane.
Meanwhile, ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said they were unmoved by Messrs Phasumane and Hoohlo’s departure.
“They have a right to do as they please. Like everyone else, they have a right to associate with whoever they want. After all they have been quiet all along, so there won’t be any void in the ABC after their departure,” Mr Masoetsa said.