MASERU – The chairman of the opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC), Sello Machakela, is suing his own party after it barred him from contesting this year’s general election.
Machakela, who was elected to parliament under the proportional representation system in 2007, wants to represent the ABC in Malimong constituency in Teyateyaneng.
The MP filed an urgent application at the High Court last Friday to stop the ABC from conducting primary elections in Malimong until the court has passed a verdict in the matter.
The High Court is still to set a date for the hearing.
ABC secretary general, Thabiso Lits’iba, confirmed that Machakela had dragged the party to court seeking the right to contest this year’s election in Malimong constituency.
This paper understands that Machakela is suing the party alleging that the ABC national working committee had no right to suspend the election process.
He said only the national executive committee had powers to stop or suspend election processes.
The executive working committee is a sub-committee of the national executive committee.
He says the working committee defied a circular issued by the national executive committee issued on November 17, last year directing that the first leg of primary elections should be held in all branches on Sunday December 11.
“However, the executive working committee announced the following day that the election should be suspended until the committee had come to Malimong,” Machakela said.
He said by then he had already won elections in nine of the about 18 branches.
The national executive committee ordered that there should be no elections at branches without committees.
He added that what irked him most was that the executive working committee had not received instructions to give the order from the NEC.
“I’m part and parcel of the NEC and I don’t recall a time when the executive committee made a decision to suspend elections in Malimong. You don’t just stop elections like that. You can’t just one day wake up and decide to stop an ongoing election process,” Machakela said.
He alleged that the manner in which the executive working committee had handled this issue was undemocratic.
“If we want to achieve free and fair elections, we first have to exercise democracy from within our political parties which will then transcend into our governments,” Machakela said.
“How do we as political parties, even begin to demand that the LCD should deliver a free and transparent election when we’re not going the extra mile for similar values in our parties?”
Lits’iba however told the Lesotho Times that several branches in Malimong had lodged complaints with the headquarters over the manner elections had been conducted in Malimong.
“We therefore wrote a letter on December 12 to inform the constituency that elections would be suspended until further notice,” Lits’iba said.
He said Machakela however went ahead with the constituency elections, even pushing for the process to be held on December 16 instead of December 18.
“Afterwards he brought a report to the headquarters indicating that he had won the primary election at constituency level uncontested. I rejected the report,” Lits’iba said.
“The truth of the matter is that there was a candidate contesting against Ntate Machakela. He also said the executive working committee had no right to suspend or cancel the election at constituency level.”