THEY were once the best of buddies but Molobeli Soulo on Sunday clearly indicated there was now no love lost between him and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Mr Soulo was one of 17 Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Members of Parliament (MPs) who formed the All Basotho Convention (ABC) in October 2006 and was elected founding chairperson, while Dr Thabane became party leader. When the ABC, LCD and Basotho National Party (BNP) formed a coalition government in June 2012 and made Dr Thabane premier, Mr Soulo was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office but received his marching orders eight months later for alleged incompetence.
Since the dismissal, relations between the erstwhile allies had continued to deteriorate, with Mr Soulo eventually resigning from the ABC last month to re-join the LCD, and also taking every opportunity to disparage the premier.
Addressing an LCD election campaign rally held on Sunday in Mount Moorosi, Quthing district, Mr Soulo went beyond the usual rhetoric about his former ally’s “poor leadership and dictatorial tendencies” by attacking the prime minister for “taking someone’s wife and making her his own”.
The premier, who is seeking to divorce his estranged wife Lipolelo Alice Thabane, last year held a traditional wedding with Liabiloe Ramoholi. Ms Ramoholi’s former husband has since sued the premier for alleged adultery, and the matter is still pending before the courts.
“The ABC has failed as a party because Thabane and (BNP leader) Thesele ‘Maseribane have become one and the same thing. This makes it difficult for people to differentiate between the ABC and BNP; Thabane and Thesele have become father and son who eat, talk, sleep, walk and do everything together” Mr Soulo told the LCD rally.
“The ABC is now being run by Thesele and the party is following his principles and ideologies, so how can the people follow such a leader? Lesotho is holding an early election next month simply because of Thabane’s failure to sustain the coalition government, so why should he be voted into power again, when he has clearly shown that he is not capable to lead?’
Mr Soulo reiterated his earlier statements that Dr Thabane lacked leadership skills and did not have the “courage” expected of a prime minister.
“Thabane was not man enough to stand his ground; he was seen holding his trousers by the belt as he ran away from the country in August last year (when the army attacked three Maseru police stations, which Dr Thabane later said was part of a coup attempt) and sought refuge in South Africa, claiming that the soldiers wanted to kill him. He ran away from the people who had trusted him by making him prime minister in 2012.
“Yet if you look at the Congress leadership, former LCD leader, the late Dr Ntsu Mokhehle did not run away when there was a mutiny over a planned government investigation into the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), which resulted in the soldiers fatally shooting Deputy Prime Minister Mr Selometsi Baholo in 1994.
“Dr Mokhehle stayed in Lesotho until the situation was back to normal. Again, Democratic Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha Mosisili, who was then LCD leader, did not run away in 1998 when there was yet another rebellion by the military. He was staying alone at State House and did not even have bodyguards but he never fled from his responsibilities as prime minister.
“Just like Mokhehle, Mosisili stayed until things were back on track, but not Thabane. He went to South Africa and claimed there was an attempted coup, yet what he was simply running away from his responsibilities, which he was failing to execute.”
Mr Soulo also accused Dr Thabane and Chief ‘Maseribane of “not doing anything to improve the lives of ordinary Basotho since the formation of the coalition government”.
“Instead, they were busy gossiping about their partner in the coalition government, (LCD leader) Mothetjoa Metsing and that is why the two of them get along so well.
“These people were busy gossiping about corruption while they were corrupt themselves. What makes matters worse is that Thabane took somebody’s wife and made her his own; there is no greater corruption than this one. Extramarital relationships exist in life but it is a shame to publicly announce such a relationship to a nation that trusted you with the premiership,” Mr Soulo said.
Mr Soulo, who is not contesting next month’s snap elections, urged LCD supporters to take the vote very seriously and never give the ABC and BNP a chance to be in power again.
“Your votes should say goodbye to Thabane because he is now old and not serious about governance. Thabane is too old to govern so he should simply not be in power. And anyway, he publicly declared that he is ready to leave government with the love of his life (Liabiloe) and live happily ever after at his home in Makhoakhoeng,” Mr Soulo said to thunderous applause from the LCD supporters.
Contacted for comment this week, Chief ‘Maseribane said Mr Soulo should stop playing “petty politics by lying to the nation”.
“The ABC was not established by me; I was not even there when the party was formed. I was elected to lead the BNP by people who had trust in me and none of them was the ABC,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
“For that reason, I am appealing to Soulo to stop spreading lies about me, and playing his dirty politics by dragging my name into his game.
“What is really annoying me from Soulo’s allegations is when he says we were gossiping about Metsing, while he clearly knows he is the expert in gossiping about others.
“Soulo would come to me complaining and gossiping about his own leader, Dr Thabane, and I would stop him in his tracks because I didn’t want to be part of what he was doing. It therefore comes as a surprise that he is now accusing me of gossiping.”
Chief ‘Maseribane further said he suspected Mr Soulo was “spreading lies” about him out of frustration.
“I believe Soulo is a frustrated man because he is no longer part of cabinet, but it was not my fault that he was fired as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.
“Soulo was not fired because of the BNP or my influence; he was dismissed because of his issues. From today, he should know that the government is not run by the BNP but ministers of His Majesty King Letsie III’s cabinet.
“Soulo should start by respecting himself so that it can be easy for others to respect him. By spreading lies about me and Dr Thabane, Soulo is actually doing irreparable harm to his own image and dignity.”
On the other hand, ABC Secretary General Samonyane Ntsekele told the Lesotho Times Mr Soulo’s “utterances” should be dismissed “with the contempt they deserve”.
Mr Ntsekele added: “It’s surprising that Soulo had been silent about the issues he is raising now.
“He was a prominent member of the ABC and expected to query the relationship between the BNP and ABC when he was still in the party.
“Soulo is bitter and we won’t know why until he tells us the reason. He is just spreading lies about the ABC and Dr Thabane because of his frustrations.”