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Troubled BCP in fresh row

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Caswell Tlali

MASERU — The Basotho Congress Party (BCP) is in fresh turmoil after allegations that its leader Thulo Mahlakeng embezzled party funds.

Mahlakeng has rejected the allegation as baseless.

Matsobane Putsoa, who leads a faction wrestling to seize power within the party claims Mahlakeng diverted party funds to a trust account belonging to his law firm.

Putsoa alleges the funds were deposited into Mahlakeng’s law firm, T Mahlakeng & Company, held with Standard Lesotho Bank in August last year.

The Sunday Express saw two copies of receipts that Putsoa alleges indicates that T Mahlakeng & Company received M100 000 and M4 113.06 last year.

The money was paid by another law firm, Du Preez Liebetrau & Company.

Putsoa alleges the funds were rentals collected from the party’s buildings in Maseru and insist Mahlakeng had no right to receive the rentals.

He says Du Preez Liebetrau & Company paid the rentals on behalf of a client who is a tenant at the BCP building.

Putsoa also alleges they had since stopped tenants from paying rentals to Mahlakeng. He said they had also instructed Standard Lesotho Bank to freeze the account.

“We approached Standard Lesotho Bank to stop giving Mahlakeng and his group services and companies using the party’s sites to stop paying rentals to them,” Putsoa said.

“The bank listened to us and the account was frozen and the tenants stopped paying rentals to Mahlakeng.”

Putsoa is currently locked in a fierce power struggle with Mahlakeng after the latter unilaterally changed the party’s name to Basotho Congress Party.

Putsoa’s faction says they are not happy that Mahlakeng had unilaterally changed the party’s name from Basutoland Congress Party to Basotho Congress Party.

They say the Basotho Congress Party does not have any registered properties.

“Our party is Basutoland Congress Party not that thing Mahlakeng has registered. Our party is entitled to its property,” Putsoa told a press conference in December.

“We are not going to allow anybody, Mahlakeng or his Basotho Congress Party, to take away our property from us.”

He added: “They have to vacate our office because they are not the Basutoland Congress Party.”

But Mahlakeng has denied any wrongdoing.

He told the Sunday Express yesterday that a lawyer working for Du Preez Liebetrau & Company, Stefan Carl Buys, paid the money to his law firm on behalf of his clients whom the BCP had sued.

“I represented the BCP in that case and Stefan Carl Buys rightly paid to my company which in turn transferred the funds to the BCP account,” Mahlakeng said.

“I have all documents proving that the BCP was my client in that case and that Stefan Carl Buys paid my client through me,” he said.

The row over the BCP name is not new.

Last September, High Court judge Justice Thamsanqa Nomncongo ruled that the Basutoland Congress Party and the Basotho Congress Party are two separate political parties.

Mahlakeng had argued that they were a single entity.

He has since appealed against the ruling.

Meanwhile, Putsoa told the Sunday Express last week that the BCP will hold a conference to elect a new leadership later this month.

Mahlakeng has since gone to the High Court opposing the call for an elective conference. He says the conference is an attempt to stage a coup d’etat against the current national

He wants the High Court to rule that a circular written by former Basutoland Congress Party leader, Ntsukunyane Mphanya, is unconstitutional.

Mahlakeng argues that the Basutoland Congress Party’s interim committee “must be declared null and void as it related to the Basutoland Congress Party currently called Basotho Congress Party”.

“The sheer audacity to ride roughshod over the entire establishment, administration and constitution of the Basotho Congress Party displayed here is appalling,” Mahlakeng said in his affidavit.
The High Court is still to rule on the application.

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