ABC leaders meet in Quthing


…conference seeks solutions to the infighting that has rocked the ruling party in recent months

Pascalinah Kabi

THE ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) will tomorrow hold a “sabbatical conference” aimed at finding solutions to the infighting that has plagued the 12-year-old party in recent months.

Embattled ABC chairperson Motlohi Maliehe expects that the conference will also decide his fate after he refused to appear before a disciplinary committee to face misconduct charges in relation to his public attack on the First Lady Maesaiah Thabane in May this year.

The two-day conference, which will be held at Holy Trinity High School in the Quthing district, will be attended by delegates from all the party structures including the national executive committee (NEC), legislators, councilors and constituency representatives.

The conference comes against the background of escalating infighting within the ABC. Only last week, ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane warned that the strife-torn party was “drifting towards hatred, killings and corruption”.

Dr Thabane said it pained him that barely a year after assuming power in the 3 June 2017 elections, the ABC is riddled with serious in-fighting which has even affected its capacity to deliver services to the electorate.

Dr Thabane said this while addressing a rally in Ha ’Makhoroana in Mapoteng in the Berea district and his comments came against the background of escalating tensions and infighting within the ABC which were most recently manifested at the party’s leadership conference in Berea a fortnight ago.

Legislators Nyapane Kaya and Malimong constituency legislator Leshoboro Mohlajoa exchanged harsh words and almost came to blows at the Berea conference. The duo got involved in a heated argument after the party’s NEC resolved to bar Mr Maliehe, from chairing the Berea conference.

Mr Maliehe was barred from chairing the conference on the grounds that he had pending appearance before the party’s disciplinary committee over his public attack on Ms Thabane in May this year.

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.

His utterances provoked an immediate response from ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who was quoted in some sections of the media as having said that Mr Maliehe should pack his bags and leave his party and government positions.

Dr Thabane eventually made good on his threat by firing Mr Maliehe from his post as Tourism minister last week. Mr Maliehe’s dismissal coincided with his revelations that the State House, the prime minister’s official residence in Maseru, was used as a secret venue by a group of party stalwarts who plotted to assassinate him. Mr Maliehe said this in a written response to the ABC’s NEC which had asked him to ‘show cause’ why he should not be suspended for attacking Ms Thabane.

Mr Maliehe still faces the prospect of being booted out of the ABC as he has a pending disciplinary case in connection with his attacks on Ms Thabane. He was supposed to appear before the disciplinary committee on Tuesday but he declined to do so, arguing that his fate could only be decided by the conference which gets underway tomorrow in Quthing.

Asked whether or not the conference will discuss the Maliehe case and other concerns that have been raised by party members, ABC Secretary General Samonyane Ntsekele this week said, “We will listen to what the conference wants and proceed as directed”.

Mr Ntsekele further said the conference would discuss the achievements of the party and the challenges since its formation in 2006.

“We expect all the ABC delegates from the 80 constituencies to attend this crucial introspection conference in Quthing on 24 to 25 August 2018.

“The conference is going to look back on the road we have travelled as a party, that is, the achievements and challenges that we are facing. We are also going to put all our minds together and come up with solutions to those challenges,” Mr Ntsekele said.

The ABC has also decided on 1 and 2 February 2019 as the dates for its elective conference which will be held at the Lehakoe Recreation Centre in Maseru.

The February dates are contained in a recent circular from Mr Ntsekele to the ABC leadership structures.

“Pursuant to the ABC constitution which states that the national executive committee elections will be held after every five years the NEC resolved in its 8 August 2018 sitting to officially announce that the elections will be held on 1 to 2 February 2019,” part of Mr Ntsekele’s letter states.

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