A DISPUTE over the Kolonyama constituency candidature under the All Basotho Convention (ABC) ticket wound up in the High Court this week with one of the contenders pushing for the nullification of last month’s nomination process.
Kolonyama Constituency Secretary Teboho Tšiu filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order nullifying the election of Halebonoe Setšabi as the ABC candidate for Kolonyama constituency in snap elections slated for 28 February 2015.
Mr Tšiu alleges Mr Setšabi’s nomination should be quashed on the grounds that he does not qualify to contest the election under the ABC banner as he has not fulfilled the mandatory 36 month probation period to be a fully-fledged member of the party.
In the court papers filed at the High Court on Monday, Mr Tšiu argues for “the primary election for the candidature of Kolonyama No. 18 constituency (held on 14 December 2014) be declared null and void on account of irregularities prevalent thereof …”.
Mr Tšiu is seeking an order declaring “that the 1st respondent (Halebonoe Setšabi) is ineligible for contestation of primary elections for the candidature of Kolonyama No. 18 constituency in light of the fact he does not satisfy the 36 months membership of the party per the constitution of the ABC,” read the court papers.
“That it be declared that re-election be held for the candidacy of Kolonyama No. 18 constituency within two days of the grant of the order by this honourable court.”
Additionally, Mr Tšiu wants the High Court to declare him the rightful candidate to stand for election and seeks an order stopping the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from endorsing Mr Setšabi as the ABC’s candidate in the constituency until the court has made a final decision on the dispute.
He also seeks to interdict ABC Secretary General, Samonyane Ntsekele, from submitting Mr Setšabi as the nominated candidate “pending determination of the present proceedings…”
In his affidavit, Mr Tšiu narrates the events leading to his complaint on the ABC primary elections for Kolonyama constituency.
“On the day of the elections, which was the 14th of December 2014, we convened and agreed on the agenda which, amongst others, included the provisions of the constitution of the ABC … which applied to the eligibility of the contestants for the elections,” he said.
“We also addressed the inspection of the eligibility of the delegates from the respective branches which make up the constituency.
“Three candidates were nominated to contest for the elections, namely; myself, the 1st respondent (Halebonoe Setšabi) and one Molefe Mofana inclusive of my co-applicant (Mphi ‘Moleli).”
Mr Tšiu argues it was discovered during the inspection that Mr Setšabi had only been in the ABC membership list for only 12 months.
He notes Mr Setšabi did not qualify because the ABC’s constitution stipulates that candidates for national elections should have been party members for at least 36 months.
“I vehemently objected to the eligibility of the 1st respondent for his candidature of the 6th respondent (Kolonyama Constituency),” Mr Tšiu states.
“This resulted in the abandonment of the business for that day as some other members were suggesting that the candidate who satisfied all the requirements be confirmed, whilst others objected the suggestion.”
He said the ABC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) was notified about the disputes.
He further stated that ABC members from all branches that constitute the Kolonyama constituency were called for a meeting to re-elect the candidate on 21 December with a riot breaking out during the ensuing process.
The riot, Mr Tšiu argues, was caused by objections that were raised but not attended to, which included allowing delegates to enter the election hall and casting their vote without prior verification of their membership.
“Because of the then prevailing circumstances, the 2nd applicant (Mphi ‘Moleli) and I, decided to leave the place for our safety.
“We then lodged a formal complaint with the 4th respondent (ABC – NEC).”
He said he approached the court after observing that the ABC – NEC had ignored their complaint.
The Kolonyama candidacy dispute for the forthcoming election is one among other feuds over the right to represent the ABC in the February poll.
Similar disputes are unfolding in Berea, Motimposo and Mabote constituencies.