THE All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) has expelled Professor Nqosa Mahao from the party for taking the party to court over its decision to disqualify him from contesting the party’s deputy leader’s post.
ABC secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele, said the National University of Lesotho (NUL) vice-chancellor had automatically expelled himself from the party by dragging it before the courts to challenge his disqualification from contesting the deputy leader’s post.
The party’s national executive committee (NEC) has now given Prof Mahao until midday today to ‘show cause’ why the party should not formally ratify his expulsion. The NEC’s position is contained in a Tuesday letter signed by Mr Ntsekele.
Prof Mahao was nominated by the ABC’s Koro-Koro constituency committee to contest the deputy leader’s post at the party’s elective conference which opens tomorrow and ends on Saturday.
He had been billed to contest against Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, party chairperson Motlohi Maliehe and the acting incumbent, Public Works and Transport Minister Prince Maliehe.
Whoever wins will stand in good stead to eventually succeed Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when the latter eventually bows out as both leader of his party and country.
However, the ABC’s NEC disqualified Prof Mahao on the grounds that he had not served in the party structures for the required 36 months to be eligible to stand in the elections.
The Koro-Koro committee however, challenged the ABC’s decision in the High Court and lost the case on 13 January 2019.
The Koro-Koro committee subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeal who have since referred the case back to the High Court. The High Court was expected to rule on the appeal yesterday.
But there was drama at the courts this week as acting chief justice Maseforo Mahase slugged it out with Prof Mahao’s lawyers (see story below). She is now due to deliver judgment today. However, she yesterday dismissed the application by the Koro-koro committee to have the entire elective conference deferred to allow them time to prepare for the elections if they win the case.
The Koro-koro committee had petitioned her to defer the ABC elections if she would not have delivered judgement in their application against Prof Mahao’s disqualification and their own suspension from office.
However, Justice Mahase dismissed the Koro-koro application on the grounds that she would today deliver the judgement in their appeal against Prof Mahao’s disqualification and the committee’s own suspension by the party’s NEC.
“In your application prayers, you had asked that the elective conference be stood down should this matter be not decided by 1 February 2019 but since I will deliver the judgement tomorrow, I will not suspend it,” ACJ Mahase ruled.
The Koro-Koro committee is seeking an order nullifying both the decision by the ABC’s NEC to disqualify Prof Mahao as well as its own suspension by the party after it launched its own spirited fight against the professor’s disqualification.
It wants the court to “review, correct and/or set aside” the ABC’s decision to disqualify Pro Mahao from the elective conference.
Prof Mahao, Prince Maliehe, Motlohi Maliehe, Dr Majoro, the executing working committee of the ABC, the ABC’s NEC and the ABC are cited as the first to the seventh respondents respectively.
The Koro-Koro committee also wants the respondents to “show cause why the decision of the NEC to decline and/ or cancel the Koro-Koro constituency nomination of Prof Mahao…shall not be declared null and void and of no force or effect”. Among other things.
But in what could be a move to pre-empt the High Court verdict, Mr Ntsekele wrote to Prof Mahao informing him that he had effectively expelled himself from the party by dragging it to court.
Mr Ntsekele cited clause 5 (e) of the ABC constitution which states that members who take the party to court automatically expel themselves. Incidentally the said clause was also challenged by the Koro-koro committee which wants it nullified on the grounds that it violates the right to access the national courts as enshrined in the national constitution.
Although Prof Mahao is cited as one of the respondents in the Koro-Koro appeal, he also filed a “counter-claim” seeking that he be declared eligible to contest the elections and that “it be declared that the NEC acted ultra vires (outside its powers) by selectively vetting the nomination of Nqosa Leuta Mahao”.
Titled ‘Termination of Your Membership from ABC’, Mr Ntsekele’s 29 January 2019 letter informs Prof Mahao that he had automatically expelled himself from the party by “suing it in the courts of law”.
“In its sitting on 29 January 2019, the national executive committee discussed at length your actions of suing the ABC in the courts of law.
“The committee has established that you instituted a case against the ABC in the High Court, case number CIV/APN/04/2019. In that case, you sued the ABC national executive committee and others and you did this without exhausting all internal remedies as stipulated in Section O of the ABC constitution.
“As stipulated in clause B.5.e, you have since ceased to have rights as an ABC member because of your actions,” Mr Ntsekele states.
He however, gave Prof Mahao until midday today to furnish the NEC with written submissions why his expulsion must not be ratified.
“You written responses, (which must be) reasons enough to convince the committee that you should not cease to be an ABC member, should reach my office by 12 noon on 31 January 2019,” Mr Ntsekele concluded.
Mr Ntsekele was not available for comment as his mobile phone rang unanswered. However, outgoing ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela, yesterday confirmed the authenticity of the letter which did not bear the ABC stamp.
Mr Mapesela said the NEC’s decision to expel Prof Mahao did not in any way interfere with the ongoing Koro-koro court appeal which seeks among other things to strike off the clause that the NEC cited in expelling Prof Mahao.
“I can confirm that the letter is authentic and it was written to Prof Mahao by the NEC. There is no court order suspending the ABC constitution and we are therefore administering the party in line with the constitution, our hands are not tied at all (by Prof Mahao and the Koro-koro committee’s court appeal),” Mr Mapesela said.
“That clause (which bars members from suing the ABC) is still operational and so is the NEC. “So, we are…well within our rights to expel him because he automatically expelled himself when he dragged the party to court,” Mr Mapesela said.
He added that the elective conference will go head tomorrow as scheduled.