PROFESSOR Nqosa Mahao has challenged Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to “lead the way” in resolving the power struggle in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) in favour of the new national executive committee (NEC) elected at the party’s recent elective conference.
Prof Mahao clinched the deputy leader’s post at the 1-2 February 2019 conference but he and the rest of the new NEC have been blocked from assuming office by the old NEC which allege that the party elections were rigged.
The old NEC has declared that it is only prepared to compromise and allow the new NEC into office if Prof Mahao steps down as deputy leader. It says that Prof Mahao, who joined the ABC in 2015, is a “relative newcomer” who should not be allowed to succeed Dr Thabane ahead of more seasoned ABC politicians who formed the party almost 13 years ago in 2006.
In addition, ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana (Local Government and Chieftainship), Keketso Sello (Mining) and ABC legislator Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe constituency) filed a court application seeking the nullification of the election of the new NEC because of alleged vote rigging. The trio wants the High Court to order fresh polls.
A court order issued by Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase for the two NEC factions to negotiate an out-of-court settlement lapsed on 19 March 2019 without any tangible outcome as the two sides refused to budge from their entrenched positions.
The old NEC had demanded that Prof Mahao steps down from the deputy leader’s post as a precondition to allowing the rest of the new NEC to assume office. The new NEC refused to accept the demand hence the cancellation of the talks and the lapse of the period for an out of court settlement. Justice Mahase must now resume hearing the case filed by Messrs Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane. She has not done so because she has been absent from work due to ill health.
Last month, 21 ABC legislators appended their signatures to a petition calling on Dr Thabane to resolve the power struggle in favour of the new NEC. Dr Thabane has himself, acknowledged the infighting, warning last week that if not resolved urgently, this could lead to the split of the party and the collapse of the government.
And on Sunday, Prof Mahao addressed a rally in Qalabane, Mafeteng where he challenged Dr Thabane to take the lead in resolving the ABC power struggle.
Prof Mahao said Dr Thabane should “pioneer solutions” to the ABC’s problems.
He said if left unresolved, the instability in the ABC would lead to instability in the government given that the ABC was the biggest party in the governing coalition which also features the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
“Today the instability has internalised within the ABC which is the biggest party in government,” Professor Mahao said, adding, “it has become clear that if there is no stability in the party there is a likelihood of instability in government”.
“As I listened to my leader’s speech (at another rally last week), I learned that he (Dr Thabane) is aware of the instability. And as the leader, he needs to lead the way in bringing solutions that will allow the new NEC which was elected whole heartedly by the ABC followers at Lehakoe Recreational Club (in Maseru) to assume office.
“My leader needs to act as the pioneer in the ABC and if I was him, I would call two people each from the outgoing NEC and the incoming NEC to sit at the table with him to find solutions to the conflict. If this had been done the (ABC) issue wouldn’t have had to go to the courts.
“We need to fight for this party’s unity and stability so that we have a stable government that will focus on service delivery to the people. We need to stop those who cause divisions in the ABC because this is not in the best interests of the party.”
Prof Mahao warned that the failure to resolve its problems would result in the ABC going the way of the then ruling Democratic Congress (DC) whose 2016 split spawned the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats and the subsequent collapse of the government in 2017.
“It is only yesterday when we witnessed the split of the Democratic Congress (DC). Does this mean we have all forgotten about that when it is something that happened only two years ago?”
Prof Mahao also acknowledged the presence of supporters of other political parties at his rally including those from the AD, DC and the Selibe Mochoboroane-led Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
He said it was a good thing to be appreciated by members of other parties despite any political differences.