SECURITY was tight at the weekend rally of the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s new national executive committee (NEC) in the Mosalemane constituency in Berea amid revelations that the ABC’s incoming chairperson Samuel Rapapa has been threatened with death by unnamed fellow party members.
Mr Rapapa becomes the third new NEC member, after incoming deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao and secretary general Lebohang Hlaele, to beef up their security after being tipped off of alleged plots to assassinate them.
There was heavy presence of armed security personnel who whisked away the NEC team immediately after they had finished addressing the rally, held on the same day with ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s own separate event in Hololo constituency, Butha-Buthe district.
The Hololo rally was organised by the old NEC, which has refused to hand over the reins to the new NEC amid a fractious power struggle within the ABC. Dr Thabane’s attendances of the old NEC’s rallies has been widely interpreted to mean that he is siding with it in its power struggles with the new NEC.
And on Sunday, Mr Rapapa who is also the legislator for the Mosalemane constituency, told the rally that he had been alerted of a plot to assassinate him. Apart from his election into the new NEC, Mr Rapapa has been in the headlines as one of the ‘Brave 21’ ABC legislators who recently petitioned Dr Thabane to urgently intervene and resolve the ABC power struggle in favour of the new NEC.
Mr Rapapa is also sponsoring a motion to amend the parliamentary standing order 111 to enable a vote of no confidence against the prime minister to be conducted in secret. There is widespread speculation that the motion is in preparation for a vote of no confidence against Dr Thabane via an elaborate plan being hatched to unseat him. Mr Rapapa has, however, denied any plot to oust Dr Thabane. He nevertheless believes that speculation about the ouster plot and his election to the ABC chairmanship would naturally have made him a prime target for elimination.
In his Sunday address to the ABC supporters, Mr Rapapa said, “some of you are surprised to see armed police officers at an ABC rally in Mosalemane but that is because I called them.
“It’s the first time you are seeing me with security personnel by my side and that is because there are death threats against me.
“People have warned me about the threats. Some had even insisted that I run for my life and not attend this rally as the plan is to eliminate me. But we need to make those evil people know that we are aware of their plan. Even if they are here among us, they should know that we do not fear them,” Mr Rapapa said.
His claims were supported by Prof Mahao who told the same rally that he received a telephone call on Saturday informing him of the alleged plot to kill Mr Rapapa. Prof Mahao said the caller advised him to ensure that Mr Rapapa immediately fled the country for his own safety.
“Yesterday (Saturday) I received a call from someone who informed me that there was a plot to kill Mr Rapapa and this person told me to warn him that he should go into hiding.
“I wonder how things got to this point where one is surrounded by people who never accept defeat. I just hope that this (assassination plot) has not been planned within the ABC. Let this child (Mr Rapapa) live for the Mosalemane constituency, the ABC and the country of Lesotho,” Prof Mahao said.
Former Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights minister Lebohang Hlaele, the secretary-general in the new NEC, recently sensationally claimed that a plot to assassinate him had been hatched at State House, the official residence of the prime minister.
Mr Hlaele is Dr Thabane’s son-in-law. Mr Hlaele is married to Dr Thabane’s daughter, Advocate ‘Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele. He was fired from his ministerial position in the aftermath of the ABC’s 1 -2 February 2019 elective conference.
The other bigwig to once make similar claims of a State House assassination plot against him is former Tourism, Environment and Culture minister, Motlohi Maliehe.