THE opposition Mpulule Political Summit has lambasted the warring All Basotho Convention (ABC) factions for endangering the country’s stability and economic prospects through their failure to resolve their leadership problems.
The ABC has been riven by serious infighting ever since party leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and some senior party officials rejected Professor Nqosa Mahao’s February 2019 election as deputy leader, accusing the latter of being a relative newcomer who should not have landed the second most powerful party post ahead of more seasoned stalwarts.
The impasse over Prof Mahao’s election led to the 17 June 2019 “expulsions” of Prof Mahao and his allies by Dr Thabane and also sparked a lot of litigation between the factions.
The Mahao faction responded by suspending Dr Thabane and deputy secretary general, Nkaku Kabi, for six years. So vicious is the ABC power struggle that the Mahao faction has since tabled a no confidence motion against Dr Thabane in parliament. This could lead to the collapse of the governing coalition.
The Mahao faction is on record saying it approached the ABC’s coalition partners and the churches to mediate in its dispute with Dr Thabane and his acolytes.
However, talks between the two factions have failed to yield positive results as the factions remain far apart and continue trashing each other in the courts.
And in a recent open letter to the nation, Mpulule leader, Pastor Remaketse Sehlabaka, said over the past months the ABC has shown itself incapable of resolving its power struggle through peaceful dialogue and the two factions had resorted to attacking each other at their separate rallies.
“The ABC leadership believes in individualism and allows personal feelings to control them and cloud their judgment thereby failing to do what is expected of them as leaders,” Pastor Sehlabaka said.
He said the infighting had far-reaching consequences including incubating a dangerous culture of hatred that could result in political killings which could go beyond the ABC and affect future generations.
“The strategy that the new ABC NEC is using to fight for power is distasteful and far worse than anything we have seen in the world. It indicates that a dark cloud is hovering over Lesotho in terms of a leadership that is far lacking. It has lost direction and is unable to handle national issues in a dignified manner.
“Nowhere in the world have we seen a leadership so power hungry that it is ready to oust its own government. By doing so they are plotting the demise of their own political party while at the same time chasing away the electorate notwithstanding the deeply rooted hatred and killings the infighting will attract,” Pastor Sehlabaka said.
He reserved his venom for Prof Mahao who he accused of undermining Dr Thabane’s leadership by holding parallel countrywide rallies.
“Where in the world have we seen a deputy leader forcefully entering the office and holding rallies parallel to that of the party leader when they are supposed to be working together? He (Prof Mahao) is fuelling a national crisis.”
He said it was also scary that there were people who were supporting Prof Mahao’s bid to wrest control of the party.
He said there were ways of building support without diving the party or collapsing the government.
“He (Prof Mahao) can successfully win people’s hearts and build a strong support base, be seen as a respectful leader who has other tactics of taking control of the party without resorting to the divide and rule strategy. This country is in grave danger because of a leadership that is inhumane, unpatriotic and do not fear the Lord.
“One cannot help but wonder who is financially supporting the new ABC’s NEC to continuously hold weekly rallies which are furthering divisions within the party and the government. One also wonders why ABC partners in the coalition government are so silent on this matter yet a government that they are leading is collapsing.”
Contacted for comment, ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa warned Pastor Sehlabaka to stop meddling in ABC issues and concentrate on the growth of his own party.
“It is clear that he is pro-Malumara (State House faction) and whatever he is saying is not something that we can lose sleep over. He (Sehlabaka) cannot tell us that the deputy leader is holding rallies when he is part of the new NEC that is being invited to constituency rallies to introduce ourselves as per the ABC constitution,” Mr Masoetsa said.
He said the new NEC would not listen to Dr Thabane as long as he disregarded the decisions of the party’s February 2019 elective conference which elected Prof Mahao and the rest of the NEC.
“Sehlabaka is complaining about funds to hold rallies and what he does not realise is that the ABC supporters are funding themselves to attend those rallies. Unlike the Malumara faction which hires buses to ferry people to their rallies, our supporters pay their way to constituency rallies.
“We have won court cases but the other side, which Sehlabaka is clearly supporting, is refusing to let us take control of the party. What more does he want? Mahao did not forcefully take control of the office, we won a court case and went there to execute the order,” he said.