PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has told Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders of ongoing efforts to resolve internal squabbles bedeviling his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.
Dr Thabane, however, did not elaborate on these efforts and he did not say whether any notable progress had been achieved towards resolving his battle with his deputy Professor Nqosa Mahao for control of the ruling party.
SADC leaders met on 17 and 18 August 2019 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to review political and socio-economic developments in the region. In his report on Lesotho, Dr Thabane only provided a one liner on the ABC power struggle, saying that, “efforts are ongoing to resolve internal differences within the ABC, the leading coalition government partner, following the contested results of its elective conference of February 2019”.
Dr Thabane’s statement to SADC came amid the intensification of the bitter power struggle that threatens to split the party and collapse the 26 month old governing coalition.
Only last week, ABC deputy secretary general Nkaku Kabi, a staunch Thabane loyalist, announced that Finance minister Moeketsi Majoro and others had been “appointed” to fill the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) positions “left vacant” by the 17 June 2019 “expulsion” of Prof Mahao and his allies from the ABC. Dr Majoro was appointed deputy leader in place of Prof Mahao.
The Mahao camp replied by dismissing the new appointments as a non-event and said they would soon set up rival NEC offices and hold a special conference to deliberate on the state of the party. The conference had initially been planned for 6 July 2019 and, among other things, the Mahao camp had promised to use it to decide on the possible expulsion of Dr Thabane from the party. (See story on page 4).
The ABC has not known peace ever since Prof Mahao beat Dr Majoro and others to the coveted deputy leader’s post in February this year. Others who lost out to Prof Mahao are the former acting incumbent, Transport Minister Prince Maliehe and former party chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe.
Dr Thabane and some senior officials refused to accept Prof Mahao’s election, arguing that he should not have contested and been elected ahead of seasoned party stalwarts. Ironically, Dr Majoro, who has now been appointed to replace Prof Mahao, issued a statement at the time congratulating Prof Mahao on his victory soon after the announcement of the results.
Dr Thabane and his allies’ refusal to accept Prof Mahao and others’ victory set the stage for a bruising litigious power struggle.
Previous talks and litigation have so far failed to end the impasse which has seen Dr Thabane “expel” Prof Mahao and his fiercest allies, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and his deputy Matebatso Doti on 17 June 2019 for alleged insubordination.
Prof Mahao and his allies refused to take the “expulsions” lying down and they reacted by announcing the suspension of Dr Thabane from the party. They were only stopped in their tracks by Justice Mahase from holding a special conference on 6 July 2019 to expel Dr Thabane.