MASERU – Newly-elected Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ’Maseribane has extended an olive branch to losing candidates saying they should all join him to strengthen the party.
’Maseribane faces a big challenge of uniting the BNP given the deep antagonism in the party.
So rife is internal factionalism that legal challenges and threats of violence almost derailed last weekend’s elective conference which saw ’Maseribane romping to victory.
In a bid to turn the party into an outfit that can compete against Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy party, ’Maseribane says it is now time to bury the hatchet.
Torn by successive leadership wrangles since Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya staged a coup in 1986, the BNP is now a shadow of its former self and has been reduced to marginal influence in Lesotho’s politics.
’Maseribane now wants all that behind him as the party prepares for looming local
government and general elections.
“I want the people to like the party, not me. But I can tell you that I am going to work hard to rebuild the BNP that even Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili will also be tempted to join,” ’Maseribane told the media on Monday.
Using the media conference to paper over internal differences with confident remarks of unity, ’Maseribane said: “The fact that we were also able to resolve our differences amicably as the conference commenced is a clear sign that we’re going to local government and general elections as a united force.”
“We can achieve anything even if it means making compromises,” he said.
“The issue of divisive camps is no more. There is no more a Makoa, Matete or ’Maseribane camp in the BNP.”
’Maseribane easily shook off competition from five challengers by winning more than double his closest contender’s votes.
He got 221 votes to Professor Kopano Makoa’s 109. Ranthomeng Matete acquired 58 votes while Pius Molapo and Tekateka Mokheseng each got four and three votes, respectively.
The only female candidate in the presidential election race, ’Mabatloung Lillane, managed to garner a single vote.
Veteran party member, Majara Molapo opted out of the race choosing instead to challenge the process at the High Court citing irregularities.
The High Court yesterday postponed the hearing of Molapo’s case to 11 April.
‘Maseribane said he was willing to take Molapo back into the party.
“He has played a significant role in the party. I don’t want to make it personal,” he said.