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ABC youths rebel

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — All Basotho Convention (ABC) youth members this week rebelled against party leader Thomas Thabane (pictured), demanding that he fires an administrative secretary they accuse of allegedly leaking confidential information to government spies.
The youths want ’Malehloka Ralitapole, who Thabane describes as his personal secretary, to be ejected from office.
The youths also allege that Ralitapole is sabotaging party secretary-general Macaefa Billy by withholding messages meant for him from the constituencies.
They also accuse her of disrespecting party members who visit the ABC by “her arrogant look and manner of speech”.
Ralitapole is also accused of allegedly conniving with publicity secretary Thabo Thakalekoala to unseat Billy.
The rebellion first erupted at the ABC rally in Likhoele, in Mafeteng district, on Sunday where the youth sang songs denouncing Thabane for what they alleged to be his reluctance to fire Ralitapole.
Ralitapole is a former radio presenter who left                   her       job at PC FM to work at the ABC offices as a volunteer.
The youths chanted that they thought their fight was against Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s rule but lately they had discovered that they were actually wrestling with Ralitapole.
Taken aback, Thabane stood up and tried to shush the youths, saying their song conjured up memories of the experiences he had when he was a member of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
The youths defied the order and continued singing until Thabane cut his speech short and closed the rally.
Seemingly unsatisfied with the impact of their Sunday protest, the youths then went to the ABC headquarters on Monday to continue their push for Ralitapole’s removal.
They used abusive language when talking to office employees, eyewitnesses said.
They barricaded the premises, forcing the secretariat to shut the office and abandon duty.
The protests continued on Tuesday.
When the Lesotho Times visited the ABC office on Tuesday members of the youth league were sitting in groups in the corridors and outside the building.
They said ever since Billy was elected in December last year he has not been able to carry out his duties effectively because of Ralitapole.
ABC youth league spokesperson Mohoalohoalo Jane confirmed that the youth were accusing Ralitapole of hindering Billy’s performance as party’s general-secretary.
“We called the youth to explain to us why they were behaving that way and they told us that they had over time observed ’Malehloka Ralitapole’s actions and attitudes towards them,” Jane said.
“They said she was undermining them by her arrogant glances every time they came to the office requesting services.
“The youths also said they had discovered that the general secretary was not comfortable working with her.
“They also told us that they were aware that Billy was unable to do his job properly because Ralitapole was a stumbling block in his progress.”
Accusations against Ralitapole go deeper.
She is suspected of selling the party’s crucial information to National Security Service (NSS) agents.
A source within the ABC’s higher ranks told the Lesotho Times that the NSS was in possession of minutes of almost all internal meetings Ralitapole attended.
“We suspect that she is a sell-out,” the source said.
“We are sure that her removal from the ABC office will be very costly to the NSS.”
Another source implicated the party’s publicity secretary, Thakalekoala, as Ralitapole’s accomplice in selling out and sabotaging Billy so that he could become the ABC’s secretary-general.
However, Thakalekoala has vehemently refuted the allegations as “baseless”.
“Ever since I, Thabo Thakalekoala, was elected the ABC publicity secretary I have never connived with Ralitapole or gone out of my way to sabotage Billy,” Thakalekoala said.
“When the friction between Ralitapole and Billy was at its height, I was temporarily appointed together with the party’s former interim secretary general Motlatsi Matekane to assist Billy to effectively carry out his duties.
“I heard about those accusations but chose to overlook them.
“In my opinion they lack foundation and are senseless and malicious.”
Thakalekoala said now that the fight between Billy and Ralitapole has been resolved “I am going to throw my whole weight behind Billy”.
“From now onward our focus should be solely based on unseating Mosisili via legal means because that is what the ABC stands for,” he said.
“Billy is safe with me and the national executive committee.
“These rumour-mongers are just confused and misguided.”
Yesterday morning the ABC leadership succumbed to the pressure.
They held an emergency meeting where they resolved to relieve Ralitapole of her duties.
She was re-assigned to become Thabane’s personal secretary.
Thabane confirmed the move but said allegations that Ralitapole was passing information to the NSS were baseless.  
“The ABC does not have secrets that would interest the NSS,” Thabane said.
Billy also confirmed the resolution. 
“It has been resolved that I will recruit a person of my choice to be the office secretary,” Billy said.
“’Mé ’Malehloka is no longer working as our office secretary as of now.”
Ralitapole refused to comment.

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