We will deal with ABC rebels: Ntsekele
- says new national executive committee’s defiance of party leader Thabane will not be tolerated
THE power struggle in the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) yesterday took another turn with the outgoing secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele threatening to deal with rivals in the new national executive committee (NEC) for holding their own rally in the Berea district instead of attending the old NEC’s in the Butha-Buthe district today.
ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is expected to address a rally which has been organised by the outgoing NEC faction in the Hololo constituency in Butha-Buthe. The new NEC, whose assumption of office has been bitterly opposed by the old NEC, will hold its own rally in the Mosalemane constituency in the Berea district.
National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao, whose recent election to the post of deputy leader of the ABC, has been fiercely resisted by the old NEC, is expected to address the Mosalemane rally.
Yesterday, the two factions traded accusations over the holding of separate and competing rallies in separate interviews with the Sunday Express.
The outgoing secretary general in the old NEC, Samonyane Ntsekele branded the new NEC “rebels” for holding a separate rally instead of attending the Hololo rally that will be addressed by the party leader, Dr Thabane.
“The writeup on the leader’s rally poster is clear that no rallies should be held alongside that of the leader. Those who go ahead with such rallies will have been rebellious in their conduct. Such behaviour will be dealt with by the relevant ABC committee,” Mr Ntsekele briefly said without elaborating.
He said transport would be provided for all those who wished to attend the Butha-Buthe rally.
However, the Mosalemane constituency legislator and incoming chairperson, Samuel Rapapa, scoffed at Mr Ntsekele’s threats.
Mr Rapapa said Mr Ntsekele was in no position to make any threats or take any action against them as he lost the 1-2 February NEC elections which ushered in the new NEC which has Prof Mahao in its ranks as the deputy leader and Mr Rapapa as the chairperson.
He said the 6 March 2019 court order by the Acting Chief Justice Maseforo Mahase barred the old NEC from making any serious decisions including the discipling or firing of any party member until the finalisation of the court case that was brought by ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana (Local Government and Chieftainship), Keketso Sello (Mining) and ABC legislator, Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe constituency).
The trio want the court to nullify the outcome of the 1-2 February NEC elections on the grounds that they were marred by vote rigging and order fresh polls within three months of their application.
Mr Rapapa said in any event there were no grounds to label them rebellious as they had only decided against attending the rally that was organised by the old NEC who were now seeking to pass it off as Dr Thabane’s rally.
He said if Dr Thabane wanted to notify them of his rallies, he would have written to them in his capacity as the leader as he had always done.
“So, now Ntsekele chooses to write a letter saying that theirs is a rally called by the leader. This is the same Ntsekele against whom we still have a case to be heard in court.
“We are holding a constituency rally in Mosalemane because the people of Mosalemane set the date of 24 March 2019 for us to hold a rally to give them feedback about the (1-2 February) elective conference.
“I heard that next week on 31 March Dr Thabane will hold a rally in Mosalemane and we will attend his rally,” Mr Rapapa said.
Just as they did last week, the two factions are holding separate, simultaneous rallies as they continue with their battle for the hearts of the ABC supporters. Last week, the Pro-Mahao faction held its rally in the Berea #27 constituency while the old NEC held its rally in the Likhoele constituency in Mafeteng.
Dr Thabane’s decision to grace the old NEC’s rallies and his attacks on Prof Mahao have fuelled speculation that he is firmly on the side of the old NEC.
Addressing party youths last Saturday in Hlotse in Leribe, Dr Thabane also attacked the Court of Appeal for its 1 February 2019 judgement which enabled Professor Nqosa Mahao to contest in the ABC’s NEC elections last month.
“You must work hard to unite this party which is facing serious challenges of being split by the courts of law. When we say that someone (Prof Mahao) does not have a right to stand for elections, they (the courts) suspend our constitution, issuing court orders that give someone access to stand for national executive committee elections.
“We will not allow the courts of law to deal with ABC issues, we will deal with the issues on our own. When someone tries to stand for elections in the constituency and loses, he goes to the court which gives an order that we, the owners of this party, have erred and that the applicant should stand for elections,” Dr Thabane said.
A day later at the Likhoele rally, the outgoing ABC chairperson Motlohi Maliehe also accused Prof Mahao of being a “rebel” who was bent on undermining Dr Thabane and destabilising the ABC.
Mr Maliehe said Prof Mahao had demonstrated his rebellious streak by holding a rally on the same day that Dr Thabane was addressing another one in Mafeteng.
This is the same accusation that was repeated yesterday by Mr Ntsekele who accused the new NEC of being rebellious by holding their own rallies instead of attending those which were graced by Dr Thabane.
Others members of the new NEC are Dr Thabane’s son-in-law, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), 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, Mr Rapapa and their colleagues have not been able to assume office due to resistance from the old NEC as well as the 11 February 2019 court challenge by Messrs Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane.