A FOUNDING member of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and businessman, Katiso Phasumane, has accused the ABC leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, of bias and failing to rein in on ABC officials who fan divisions in the party.
Mr Phasumane said instead of promoting unity and reconciliation in the party, Dr Thabane was siding with the party’s outgoing national executive committee (NEC) in its power struggle with the new NEC which was voted into office at the ABC’s 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference.
The new NEC includes outgoing National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao as the deputy leader, Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Chalane Phori (deputy chairperson), Nkaku Kabi (deputy secretary general), Tlali Mohapi (treasurer), Likhapha Masupha (secretary), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and ‘Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson).
However, Prof Mahao and his colleagues have not been able to assume office due to resistance from the old NEC as well as the court challenge by three ABC legislators, Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe).
Immediately after the elections, the old NEC refused to hand over the office keys to the new NEC while the trio launched their court action. Messrs Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane have since been granted an interim order barring the new NEC from taking over until after the finalisation of their main application for the nullification of the 1-2 February 2019 poll results.
The trio have argued that the elections were marred by gross irregularities and as a consequence, they could not have produced a “credible outcome”.
In addition to the court case, the faction are holding competing countrywide rallies to win over the grassroots ABC supporters to their side. Despite professing neutrality, Dr Thabane has appeared and addressed rallies organised by the old NEC prompting Mr Phasumane and many other ABC supporters to accuse him of siding with the old NEC.
Speaking at a recent rally organised by the Pro-Mahao faction in Qalabane in Mafeteng, Mr Phasumane said he was disappointed by Dr Thabane’s failure to walk his talk on uniting the party hence his decision to attend the new NEC’s rally.
Mr Phasumane said Dr Thabane must extend the olive branch to all ABC members and initiate talks to end the infighting in the party.
“But if he will remain this biased in a way that I have observed, you will see him preach what he fails to practice,” Mr Phasumane said, adding his disappointment had led him to rather attend the rallies of the pro-Mahao camp.
“It is for this reason that I have decided to come to you because I haven’t been attending any rallies. I therefore suggest that, the incoming NEC should work towards the re-unification of all ABC followers. What I want is peace and I have found peace here.
“You (new NEC) were elected even though I did not vote for most of you. The people I voted for are Futho Hoohlo (who lost to Mr Hlaele in the secretary general’s contest) and Sam Rapapa.
“But in the process of voting things got messy which led to the conference not being officially closed by the leader until today. A lot of you we do not see eye to eye and have different opinions but we want unity because once we divided the enemy is going to come between us.”
Mr Phasumane said as a founding ABC member he was not happy with Dr Thabane’s leadership which had sidelined some of his “comrades who have worked tirelessly for the ABC for 12 years”.
The ABC was formed in 2006. Since then it has grown in leaps and bounds and first tasted power as part of a three-party coalition along with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the Basotho National Party (BNP) from 2012 to 2015. It returned to power as part of four party coalition in 2017 along with the BNP, the Alliance of Democrats and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.