. . . as old NEC petitions court to stop Mahao rallies
THE old national executive committee (NEC) of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) has stepped up its quest to deliver the death blow to the hopes of Professor Nqosa Mahao and others to take charge of the ruling party.
Last week the Acting Chief Justice, ‘Maseforo Mahase, nullified the ABC elective conference which ushered in Prof Mahao and others into the ABC’s NEC and declared the old NEC the interim NEC for a year.
Buoyed by Justice Mahase’s order, the interim NEC will tomorrow approach the High Court for an order barring Prof Mahao and his colleagues from holding rallies and masquerading as the ABC’s NEC.
The court papers, which will be filed the interim NEC’s lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, reveal that the interim NEC also wants the court to compel the police to stop issuing permits to the Prof Mahao camp to host rallies under the banner of the ABC.
The interim NEC’s secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele, is the applicant. Prof Mahao, his faction’s chairperson, Samuel Rapapa, secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, deputy spokesperson, ’Matebatso Doti, the Commissioner of Police, the Minister of Police, the Minister of Local Government and the Attorney General are the first to ninth respondents respectively.
Against overwhelming rejection by the senior ABC officials that included the ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Prof Mahao contested and clinched the deputy leader’s post at the ABC’s 1 and 2 February elective conference.
Others who were elected into the new NEC are Dr Thabane’s son-in-law, Lebohang Hlaele, Samuel Rapapa, Chalane Phori (deputy chairperson), Nkaku Kabi (deputy secretary general), Tlali Mohapi (treasurer), Likhapha Masupha (secretary), Montoeli Masoetsa and ‘Matebatso Doti.
However, Prof Mahao and fellow members of the new NEC’s joy was cut short by the old NEC which refused to hand over power. Three ABC legislators, Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) filed a court application on 11 February seeking an order to nullify the outcome of the ABC’s elective conference on the grounds that the polls were marred by “vote rigging”.
Despite postponing that case on several occasions, Justice Mahase stunned the Mahao faction last Wednesday when she went on to deliver judgement in a separate but similar application that was brought before her by the unheralded trio of ABC members, Motseki Lefera, ’Matumisang Ntiisa and Martha Makhohlisa.
Justice Mahao nullified the ABC’s February conference and ruled that the old NEC should remain in office as the interim NEC for a year and during that time they should work on amending the ABC constitution to provide for the holding of NEC elections which it currently does not provide for.
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Buoyed by last week’s victory, the interim NEC will tomorrow seek to hammer the final nail into the coffin of the Mahao faction’s hopes of taking over the party leadership.
In tomorrow’s application, the interim NEC wants the court to interdict Prof Mahao, Messrs Rapapa, Hlaele and Masoetsa and Ms Doti from hosting forums as members of the ABC’s NEC.
They want the “first to fifth respondents to be ordered to desist from and be interdicted from passing themselves off and/or presenting themselves at any forum be it political or otherwise as members of the NEC of ABC with immediate effect”.
“The sixth respondent (Commissioner of Police) be ordered to desist from issuing any police permits to the aforesaid respondents for purposes of holding political rallies or participating in any rallies or meetings purportedly in their capacities individually or collectively as members of the NEC of ABC. That the seventh respondent (Minister of Police) ordered to prevail upon the sixth respondent in his capacity as such not to issue any police permits to the first to fifth respondents with immediate effect.
“The eighth respondent (Minister of Local Government) be ordered to ensure that no chiefs issue permits or allow the first to fifth respondent to hold any rallies or attend any rallies where they purport and or hold themselves out as members of the NEC of ABC with immediate effect.”
The interim NEC says theirs is an urgent application because if the first to fifth respondents are allowed to host rallies, this may cause bloodshed among supporters of the rival ABC factions.
“The conduct of the first to fifth respondents of passing themselves off as members of the NEC of ABC at the various forums where they have so conducted themselves and any other intended future forums of a similar nature or with the same objective is unlawful.
“It (the conduct of the respondents) crucially has the potential of fuelling or causing violence between themselves and their followers on the one hand and the general membership of the ABC and consequently damaging the good name and the integrity of the party,” the court papers state.
Early this week, the defiant Prof Mahao camp held a rally in Lepereng in the Maseru district.
Speaking at the rally, Prof Mahao said they had instructed their lawyers to “work tirelessly like geniuses” to ensure that Justice Mahase’s “fake order” (which nullified the ABC’s elective conference) is overturned. The outgoing Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho also blasted Justice Mahase for the judgement which he says has tarnished the reputation of the judiciary under the ABC government. Incidentally, the opposition have also railed at what they view as a judiciary that has been captured by the governing coalition.