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New ABC splinter party formed

MASERU — Lesotho’s main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party has given birth to another unwanted baby.

A former strong member of the party says he is planning to form a splinter party because he is disillusioned by the current leadership style.

Paul Masiu, a pastor with Ambassador Church Mission International (ACMI), says the party will be Christian-oriented.

The launch date for the party, to be known as the African Christian Front for Democracy, is not yet known but Masiu says “it is likely to be soon”.

Masiu’s party comes hardly a year after legislator Lehlohonolo Tséhlana broke away from the ABC to form his own party, Senkatana.

Like others who have left the ABC, Masiu blames it all on the leader, Tom Thabane, whom he accuses of “destroying the dream by running the ABC to the ground with his dictatorial leadership style”.

Masiu says his party, which will thrive on Christian principles, has already been registered.

The Independent Electoral Commission is studying the proposed party’s constitution to ascertain its compliance with the country’s constitution, Masiu said in an interview last week.

Masiu’s political history dates back to the 2002 elections where he contested for the Lithoteng constituency (34) as an independent candidate.

“I joined the ABC in its initial stages and was part of the caucuses whose mandate was to push forward the formation of the party,” Masiu said.

Masiu said he was an ABC runner-up candidate for the Lithoteng constituency, only losing out to Eliabe Mokhanoi (MP) by four votes.

Mokhanoi has since defected to Senkatana following a string of disagreements with the ABC leadership.

Masiu says he left the ABC in February this year after “fighting a losing battle to effect change in the ABC”.

“I shared similar views with people like Mookho Mathibeli and Lehlohonolo Tséhlana regarding the running of the party,” he says.

“But I stayed for much longer because I had hoped that things would change.

“But in February I was compelled to throw in the towel because I could see no change in sight.

“The ABC leader, Thomas Thabane, imposed decisions on us, especially the Lithoteng constituency, without prior consultation,” Masiu adds.

“We had neither a say in decision-making nor a platform to present our views and grievances.”

Masiu says the final straw  was the “self-serving” constitution Kobo-li-Nyane) “which Thabane composed on his own and imposed on ABC members”.

“The ABC held promise for the majority of people had it not been for the poor leadership,” Masiu claims.

“But the leader violated us a great deal.”

Masiu seems confident that his party will have the muscle to compete in Lesotho’s political sphere and hold its own against established movements.

“We are a Christian nation, with more than 80 percent of Basotho nationals practising the religion,” Masiu says.

Masiu claims he has so far managed to garner support from 62 of Lesotho’s eighty constituencies.

“We come from different political parties and I am popular already,” he says.

“We also associate with Christianity because it is a common culture nationwide.

“Moreover, church leaders seem enthusiastic about this venture.”

Masiu says another advantage was the fact that “our politics are not to glorify a particular individual, swear or declare war with anyone”.

“Our mandate is to debate the issues of this country – its governance structure, economy, policies and general development,” he says.

“Embracing priests also is vital because they do a sterling job of promoting the Word of God.

“Our main aim as a political party is to have effective strategies, whether or not we make it into parliament.”

Masiu says his party already enjoys the support of pastors because it promotes the word of God.

Masiu says Lesotho is in the “intensive care unit” politically and that the country needs a radical change.

“Lesotho needs radical change and a new political party is the only immediate answer.”

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