ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy secretary general Nkaku Kabi has rubbished his and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s suspensions, effected by the rival Professor Nqosa Mahao’s faction on Thursday.
Mr Kabi told the Sunday Express on Friday that he regarded their Thursday suspension from the party’s NEC as illegal because it was done by people who were fired from the party.
Mr Kabi was elected deputy secretary general at the ABC’s 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference.
He was elected alongside deputy leader Prof Mahao, secretary general Lebohang Hlaele, chairperson Samuel Rapapa, spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa, treasurer Tlali Mohapi, recording secretary Likhapha Masupha, deputy chairperson Chalane Phori and deputy spokesperson ‘Matebatso Doti.
On 17 June 2019 Dr Thabane, in an open air press conference, announced that he had fired Messrs Mahao, Hlaele, Rapapa, Masoetsa and Ms Doti from the party for insubordination. He then appointed Mr Kabi to remain in charge of the party’s office.
However, three days before their expulsion, the five sat as the ABC NEC and resolved that Dr Thabane had no powers to expel nor fire any party member.
On 26 June 2019 they launched an urgent court application pleading with the High Court to have Dr Thabane held in contempt of court for purporting to expel them despite the court’s earlier order declaring that they had been properly elected at the party’s February 2019 elective conference. The group also sought to have the purported expulsions revoked as well as to have Dr Thabane barred from making unilateral decisions and interfering with the work of the new NEC.
“The decision of the first respondent (Dr Thabane) taken on 17 June 2019 expelling the applicants as members of the ABC (must) be set aside as null and void. The first respondent (Dr Thabane) as the leader of the second respondent (ABC) does not have the powers to expel any member of the ABC without ratification by third respondent (NEC),” part of the urgent application read.
“The first respondent (Dr Thabane must) be interdicted from taking unilateral decisions and interfering with the affairs of the second respondent (ABC) without involvement of the full contingent of the third respondent (NEC).
“The first respondent (Dr Thabane must) be found guilty of contempt of an order of court dated 12 June 2019. In the event the court finds the first respondent guilty of contempt, he shall be ordered to purge his contempt, failing which he be committed to jail for period determinable by the court.”
However, Justices Sakoane Sakoane and Moroke Mokhesi, who heard the matter on Wednesday did not grant their prayers for an interim interdict. The two judges only agreed to hear the application as an urgent matter on 22 July 2019.
“Prayer 1 is hereby granted …prayers 2,3,4,5 of the Notice of Motion are hereby refused…,” part of the 26 July 2019 court order read.
The first prayer deals with the issue of the urgency of the matter while other four prayers are dealing with contempt, an interdict and revoking of the dismissal letters.
On Thursday the “expelled” five held a press conference at Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) where they announced the suspension of Dr Thabane and Mr Kabi from the party.
“No one is above the ABC constitution and we as the legitimately elected committee, we sat and resolved that to stop this behaviour of the leader from re-happening or trickling down to the constituencies, the leader is suspended as of today when he receives the suspension letter and his issues will be forwarded to the disciplinary committee.
“We are sure that he is going to reject the suspension as he has rejected us as the committee. If he is against the suspension, he will challenge our decision in court but if he does not do so he remains suspended.
“On the other hand, Mr Kabi has allowed himself to be misused to use the party’s letterhead without my knowledge to write letters which have been rotating on social media inciting that as the NEC they have resolved to accept the leader’s decision to expel us and further cancel the special conference which we have set for 6 July 2019. For his (own) reasons, he acted against the constitution of the party therefore, he is also suspended and will appear before the disciplinary committee. The special conference which is slated for 6 July will continue as planned,” Mr Hlaele said.
Prof Mahao added that they would remain as the party’s legitimate NEC members until the courts declare otherwise.
“It is the NEC which has powers to expel members from the party in line with the ABC constitution. Clause U (c) states that no member shall be expelled from the party without the knowledge or ratification of the NEC,” Prof Mahao said.
Mr Kabi said on Friday he remained in office and would continue executing his duties as directed by the leader, Dr Thabane. He said nothing had changed from the time Dr Thabane fired Prof Mahao and others. If at there will be any changes, then that may only be after the High Court hearing on 22 July, he said.
“The leader expelled the said people from the party on 17 July and they went to court on Wednesday seeking the High Court to nullify their dismissal.
“However, the court rejected their pleas to have the letters revoked as an interim relief therefore, this means that they remain fired from the party until the court decides otherwise when the matter is heard on 22 July.
“I remain in charge of the office as instructed by the leader. We cannot be suspended by people who are no longer members of the party,” Mr Kabi told the Sunday Express.
Mr Kabi also said they would next week move the party offices from the Metcash Building to a bigger space.
The announcement of Dr Thabane and Mr Kabi’s suspensions is part of the ongoing war of attrition between the two factions of the ABC which threatens to collapse the current coalition government. There is no end in sight for the factionalism saddling the ABC as the two factions continue to fiercely trade accusations while staking their claims for legitimacy over the ABC.