…bids for ABC deputy leader’s post
OUTSPOKEN ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) legislator, Motlohi Maliehe, who was suspended from the party’s chairship has bounced back and he immediately threw his hat into the contest for the position of deputy leader at the party’s elective conference in February next year.
He will battle it out with Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao and the 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.
Dr Thabane’s position is not up for contest at the February conference. But with the Prime Minister nearing 80, whoever wins the deputy leader’s race is seen becoming his obvious successor.
In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, Mr Maliehe, said he was now eligible to contest for the elections following a last-minute decision by the party to lift his suspension. He was suspended in August this year for 12 months after he publicly attacked the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane in May this year. Six months of that suspension was however, put on hold meaning that he would only serve six months until January next year.
But in an exclusive interview yesterday, Mr Maliehe said his suspension had been lifted and he had just signed a nominee’s form to contest the deputy leader’s post at the ABC’s elective conference in February 2019.
“I received a call from the ABC office on Sunday evening informing me to come to Maseru on Monday to fill the nominees’ form,” the outspoken Butha-Buthe legislator told the Lesotho Times.
“I only came today (yesterday) because I had already made arrangements for a public gathering in my constituency and upon arrival, I was informed that I had been nominated for the positions of deputy leader and the secretary responsible for taking party minutes. I chose to fill the form for the deputy leader’s position, so I am in the race for the position of the deputy leader,” Mr Maliehe said.
He however, said he had been verbally informed of the decision to lift his suspension and that the ABC secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele, had promised to write a letter informing all ABC structures of this development today.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Ntsekele’s mobile phone was answered by someone else who said he was in a meeting. Subsequently his mobile phone rang unanswered.
However, ABC Spokesperson Tefo Mapesela said that “Maliehe is one of the nominees and I can’t discuss issues surrounding him until the vetting process has been completed”.
Mr Maliehe said the lifting of his suspension came after he wrote to the party last month.
“Last month I wrote to the national executive committee (NEC) and gave them a week to lift my suspension failing which I would be forced to approach the courts of law. It took weeks to get to where we are now but there was a lot of cooperation from the secretary general and the ABC headquarters throughout the time.
“I have been informed that the NEC has lifted my suspension and I am happy. From today onwards, I am going to attend national executive committee meetings and will chair all meetings and rallies alongside my deputy as we did before the suspension. I am just waiting for the letter from the secretary general who promised that the letter would be ready tomorrow”.
Mr Maliehe was suspended in August this year following his public attack on Ms Thabane while addressing a rally in his Hololo constituency in Butha Buthe in May.
Mr Maliehe accused Ms Thabane of fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.
The ABC chairperson accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.
In addition to his suspension, Mr Maliehe was also fired from his post as Tourism minister.
Asked if he regretted attacking Ms Thabane, Mr Maliehe said: “I can’t say I have regrets because there is absolutely no ABC law that I violated but I am human being, sometimes I will step on others’ toes just like they will step on mine and for that I apologise to the ABC”.
“But I expected them to apologise to me too for wasting my time by suspending me because I have always felt and still feel that that suspension was unlawful.”
On his vision for the ABC should he be elected as deputy leader, Mr Maliehe said it was his aim to unite the party and to ensure that it implements its mandate of efficient service delivery.
“The ABC has derailed from its mandate. We were elected into government based on our election manifesto and we have since derailed thanks to our leadership. But we still have a chance a make a difference. Should I be elected, I will make sure that the NEC functions as an oversight committee to the executive because no executive can function well without taking its mandate from the ruling party,” Mr Maliehe said.
He further said that the government was in the habit of making decisions that had not been authorised by the party leadership.
“Just because it is happening does not mean that we should let it be. We need to correct the wrongs because that is the only way we can address grievances by party members and those that voted us into power trusting that we would implement our election manifesto.”
He said it was wrong for the executive to think that they were not supposed to be supervised by the party structures because “no one can supervise themselves”.
He said to ensure the party effectively discharged its role in relation to the government, the chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary general, deputy secretary general and treasurer should all become full time office bearers. That way, he said, the party would function effectively, grow and exercise an oversight role over the government.
Although the suspension affected his preparations for the deputy leader’s post, Mr Maliehe said he was still a competent candidate with strong support base and that he was therefore confident of winning.
“My campaign starts now. I thank the ABC supporters who stood by me. Now it is time for us to work together for the betterment of the ABC,” he said.