MASERU — The haggling and bitter infighting within the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party sounds a death knell for the opposition party, analysts have warned.
The ABC held a chaotic special conference last weekend at Maseru High School that saw delegates call for the ouster of the party’s entire national executive committee.
The meeting ended in acrimony as delegates hurled insults at each other.
Even the party’s embattled leader, Thomas Thabane, was not spared as delegates booed him as he tried to address the conference.
Constituencies such as Mabote in Berea district and Butha-Buthe said the national executive should be disbanded because “it was inept”.
Analysts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week said the infighting suggested the opposition party was on its death-bed.
They said the infighting exposed deep cracks within the biggest opposition party which was expected to give the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party a run for its money at the next polls in 2012.
The analysts said the ABC was in a state of paralysis and should kiss its chances of succeeding at the polls good-bye.
They said with less than a year-and-a-half before the polls, the infighting leaves the party with very little time to regroup to put up a credible showing at the elections.
Tlohang Letsie, a political science lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), said Thabane no longer commanded respect among the party’s supporters.
“The masses that joined the ABC at its inception were drawn to the party by Thabane because of his high political profile. But it is apparent that he is losing grip on the party,” Letsie said.
“Having acted in the manner they did meant the delegates have lost confidence in him.”
Letsie said Thabane’s decision to end a political alliance between the ABC and the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) had alienated some of his own supporters.
He said Thabane should swallow his pride and recall LWP leader Macaefa Billy who was kicked out of the party in September.
“If Thabane wants the ABC to regroup and reinvent itself before the 2012 elections he simply has to swallow his pride and make amends with Billy.
“Failure to do so will definitely spell the end of his political career because in politics you win elections by numbers and nothing else,” Letsie said.
Motlamelle Kapa, who is also a political science lecturer at NUL blamed the ABC’s current woes on “lack of internal party democracy”.
This lack of internal democracy bred bitter resentment targeted at the leadership, Kapa said.
Kapa said the manner in which Thabane handled the Billy issue had wreaked havoc within the opposition party as it was made “without consultation or following the right channels”.
“People were not even given reasons why the ABC no longer wanted Billy,” Kapa said.
He said the fact there was a significant section of ABC supporters who were rallying behind Billy means “they see him as a credible alternative” to Thabane.
“The majority of ABC supporters, particularly the youth, are in support of Billy because they have realised nobody else takes them seriously,” Kapa said.
“We have reached a stage of progressive politics whereby people are quick to make decisions if they don’t get services they require.”
He said some supporters “might even be thinking that he (Billy) could take them beyond the 2012 elections”.
The respected academic however said it might be premature to start writing the ABC’s political obituary.
“The fights rocking the ABC are nothing new in our political landscape. It happens in all other political organisations, it’s a general problem,” Kapa said.
Nchafatso Sello, a former president of the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations, said the ABC was facing a race against time to reinvent itself ahead of the 2012 elections.
“The elections are just around the corner and the ABC’s best bet is to accommodate its followers and their needs.
“If the internal squabbles persist, then there will be no hope for the party,” Sello said.
“The ABC should also for once make clear what it stands for so that when the people join the party they know what they are getting themselves into. If there’s one thing people long for, it is stability.
“People should also know that the allegiances they form are not always for the benefit of the party so they should put the interests of the party before their own.”