ABC rifts widen
… as Koro-Koro vows court action to reverse party decisions.
INTERNAL rifts in the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) are worsening after the party’s Koro-Koro constituency committee vowed to challenge its suspension in the courts.
The committee has also threatened similar court action over the disqualification of its preferred candidate for the party deputy leader post, National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor Nqosa Mahao.
Koro-Koro constituency committee chairperson, Phohleli Phohleli, told the Lesotho Times that they were baffled by the NEC’s decisions to both suspend the committee and disallow Professor Mahao from contesting the key post of deputy leader. He vowed the committee would not let the decisions lying down. They must be reversed forthwith, he demanded.
Mr Phohleli said the decision to suspend the constituency committee – effective from 30 December 2018 – was even more perplexing as it came before the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had responded to the committee’s petition against Professor Mahao’s disqualification.
The decision to suspend the committee came barely a week after the NEC barred Professor Mahao from contesting for the deputy leader position at the elective conference scheduled for 1 and 2 February 2019.
The party’s NEC resolved to bar Professor Mahao because he has not “served at the party’s branch and constituency levels for at least 24 and 36 months” respectively as required by the ABC constitution.
Mr Phohleli told the Lesotho Times that they were bewildered by the NEC’s decisions.
“We are surprised to say the least with the decision of the NEC to now suspend us as if its decision to reject our nominee (Professor Mahao) was not enough,” Mr Phohleli said.
“We have since written a letter demanding that they reconsider Prof Mahao’s issue within seven days or else we shall go to the courts of law for intervention. They must also reverse the suspension of the committee failing which we will take the same route”
ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele communicated the NEC’s stance in a letter dated 31 December 2018 to the Koro-Koro constituency committee.
Mr Phohleli described the NEC’s decisions as a declaration of war against the constituency and vowed “we are not going to take this undemocratic behavior lying down”.
“They should respond to us by 5 January 2019 (tomorrow), otherwise we shall go to the courts like we promised.”
Mr Phohleli said they would also challenge the decision to suspend the constituency committee as it was “unfair and undemocratic”.
“Other constituencies have had similar problems but they were never suspended, why this one?” Mr Phohleli said.
The constituency committee convened a press conference on 28 December 2018 where it condemned the NEC’s decision to bar its nominee. The move immediately stirred trouble after the NEC responded by suspending the committee citing indiscipline.
Mr Nstekele’s letter reads: “In its sitting on 30 December 2018, the national executive committee decided to suspend the Koro-Koro # 42 constituency committee from ABC activities…”
“The suspension has been influenced by the committee’s move to challenge the NEC’s rejection of Professor Mahao’s nomination by calling for a press conference on 28 December 2018 at AME Hall, Maseru.
“You held a press conference without the consent of the NEC yet issues being addressed (at the press conference) did not only refer to the Koro-Koro constituency but to the general issues of the party, those being powers vested in the NEC.”
The letter further accuses the Koro-Koro constituency of holding the press conference within the precincts of Stadium Area # 31 constituency without the consent of the NEC.
“You have breached the conduct of the party by holding a press conference in the Stadium Area precincts without the consent of the national executive committee and knowledge of such by the concerned constituency though issues being discussed were those of Koro-Koro constituency.
“And also, being rebellious against the party in newspapers and on different radio stations.”
Mr Phohleli said the decisions to suspend the committee and bar Professor Mahao had been made by “conflicted individuals” who were also in the running for positions in the party polls.
“We can’t be contesting with the same people and yet be told to be answerable to them, that doesn’t make sense at all,” Mr Phohleli said.
Mr Ntsekele refused to be drawn into answering the Koro-Koro committee’s accusations preferring to only say that the Koro-Koro case would be deliberated on at the NEC’s January meeting whose dates are yet to be decided.
“What I know is that Koro-Koro issues are expected to be part of the agenda of the national executive committee’s January meeting which is yet to be scheduled as we have just come from the festive break,” Mr Ntsekele said.
But any court actions, if implemented, could potentially scupper the ruling party’s cohesion ahead of the all-important elective conference. Whoever wins the deputy leader’s post will be thrust in good stead to succeed party leader Dr Thomas Thabane who turns 80 this year.