BUTHA-BUTHE — The All Basotho Convention (ABC) leadership is fuming. They want the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party to “immediately stop badmouthing Tom Thabane and disrespecting ABC party regalia at its rallies”.
And if this does not stop the ABC says it will be forced retaliate to defend Thabane’s reputation and protect the integrity of the party.
Sello Maphalla the deputy president of the Lesotho Workers’ Party (LWP), which is in an alliance with the ABC, told supporters at a rally in Qalo in Butha-Buthe on Sunday that he was shocked that the LCD was using such “tactics to undermine the ABC”.
He said he was shocked the LCD leadership had allowed party members to destroy ABC T-shirts at a rally in Maputsoe last week.
At that rally 25 ABC supporters defected to the LCD and openly gave up their regalia to show that they had left the opposition party for good.
They also trampled on the regalia to show their contempt for the ABC.
This has angered the opposition which is now threatening to hit back.
“We will have no choice but to welcome a war of that nature as a challenge worth embracing with all our hearts,” Maphalla told about 500 people who attended the ABC rally.
Maphalla said that LCD seems to forget that “some of us originate from LCD and that we still have our attire from those days”.
He said the ABC was capable of fighting back to defend its reputation.
“If LCD continues on its destructive path, we will not hesitate to dress 25 donkeys (the number of people who defected from ABC in Maputsoe) in the LCD attire and have them parade in the streets as our way of retaliating.”
He said the LCD must start treating Thabane with respect because he was the leader of Lesotho’s main opposition party.
He said LCD leader and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili should have intervened when his party supporters started disparaging ABC regalia and insulting Thabane.
“Ntate Thabane is not a little boy. He is the leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) which happens to be the main opposition party in Lesotho. He deserves the respect befitting his status,” said a visibly irate Maphalla.
Maphalla was speaking in his capacity as a key member of the LWP which entered into an alliance with ABC ahead of the 2007 general elections.
“The fact that his name is treated like a plaything in LCD rallies and caucuses should cease effectively, immediately!” Maphalla said.
Maphalla said it was a shame that the LCD leadership seemed content to watch on as the followers “unashamedly trampled on the ABC attire in their presence”.
He said the incident in Maputsoe revealed that there was a leadership crisis in Lesotho.
Maphalla said if the scheduled LCD national rallies were meant to drag ABC’s reputation through the mud and continue with the degradation of the party’s attire, the ABC would have no choice but to declare war between the two parties.
Maphalla said the ABC youths must protect the party and Thabane’s honour but did not reveal how they would do this.
He warned people “hoping to use ABC as their gravy train to reconsider and tread carefully”.
He said all the negative things said by the three fugitives who recently ditched the party were “utter nonsense and they should get lost”.
The secretary of the Qalo constituency youth committee Ts’olo Limema said they had a learnt a lot from the youth league of the African National Congress (ANC).
“If it were not for the fierce battle the ANC youth fought on behalf of Jacob Zuma, he would not be the president of South Africa as we speak,” Limema said.
“As the youth of ABC, we are intent on playing a huge role in ensuring Ntate Thabane assumes the reins of power in the not-so-distant future.”
Motlohi Maliehe, the ABC MP for Butha-Buthe (5) said Qalo was an ABC stronghold but there were also LCD nests.
“Measures need to be taken to ensure that we destroy the bird’s nest in this place. We need to prevent the bird from laying more eggs and also ensure that those which are already laid don’t hatch,” said Maliehe.
Thabane said the ABC had the capacity to retaliate to the LCD’s insults.
“Comrade Maphalla hit the nail on the head. If the ruling party declares war against us by dragging our dignity through the mud the ABC will not hesitate to respond in self-defence,” Thabane said.
The LCD secretary-general, Mothetjoa Metsing denied allegations that the party was insulting Thabane at its rallies.
“We have never portrayed Thabane’s name in a bad light. ABC is just on a mission to create a fertile ground for heightening people’s emotions and brew confusion,” Metsing said.
He said that LCD does not advocate war in politics and it “would never declare war on anyone”.
“It is very unfortunate that ABC is twisting matters to suit its interests. But we will not be deterred in our mission to recruit more supporters to LCD. We will continue to go out there to garner more support and strengthen LCD.”
Metsing again said that it was well and good if the ABC youth were planning to have their leader in office “as long as their intentions did not include causing instability in Lesotho”.
“Their tone sounds aggressive. They should know that Zuma was put in office through the power of the vote. If the ABC youth insist they will ensure their leader a place in power, the LCD youth can also say the same thing. Just as long as no one resorts to war to realise their goals,” Metsing said.