MASERU — There is a fierce battle for the control of the women’s league of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party ahead of its elective conference next month. The struggle for power is between the former president of the league Mookho Mathibeli and the current treasurer ‘Mapheello Tsuluba.
Mathibeli was suspended from her position last year after being accused of insubordination but she insists that she is still the legitimate leader of the league. Tsuluba who is now playing a central role in the absence of Mathibeli says she is going to contest for the top position at the conference if she is nominated. She is also part of the group that is organising the conference.
This has angered Mathibeli who is now accusing her of trying to seize power by calling for a conference without consensus from the other members of the women’s league.
Mathibeli said Tsuluba had no right to call for the conference. Tsuluba says she does not take the accusations seriously because Mathibeli was expelled from the party.
This week the Lesotho Times (LT) spoke to the two women in separate interviews about these issues and their fights.
Below are excerpts from the first interview with Mathibeli.
LT: Next month the ABC women’s league holds its conference and you will not attend because you were expelled from the party. Are you at all concerned about this?
Mathibeli: Yes I am concerned because the whole process looks improper to me. Key members of the executive committee of the women’s league have not been told about this conference. Most of the members of the committee have been pushed out. The treasurer, Tsuluba, has usurped power and now she is behaving like she has the right to organise the conference. She cannot do that without the consensus of committee. It is wrong and illegal. As we speak the president, chairman, general secretary and two committee members of the league are not aware of the conference.
LT: So what will you do if the conference goes ahead?
Mathibeli: I think it is too early to ask such a question. We want to wait and see what happens but if push comes to shove we will have to go to the courts because we cannot allow things to deteriorate like this. We should not allow such bad things to happen.
LT: Who is supposed to call for the conference? Who has the powers to do that?
Mathibeli: The whole committee is supposed to call for the conference. Currently there are only four members out of the normal ten because the others have been haunted out by Tom Thabane. These four are now working hard behind closed doors with Thabane to organise an illegal conference for the women’s league.
LT: Tsuluba says she is going to contest for the position of the president of the women’s league if nominated. What do you think about her decision?
Mathibeli: Well, she has the right to contest for the position but she does not have the right to call for the conference. A treasurer alone cannot call for a conference of the women’s league. I have a very strong suspicion that they are trying to destroy the party by engaging in such an illegal activity. She is aware that this is illegal but she continues to do it. I don’t know why?
LT: And what do you think about her candidacy?
Mathibeli: You mean her personality and leadership qualities?
LT: Yes, that is the question.
Mathibeli: Well according to my knowledge she is not a very firm person. During the time we have worked together she has not struck me as a very strong character. For example when we were in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) she used to struggle with her work. She was the treasurer of the women’s league but she would struggle to balance her books. We had to help her with the reports because she was just struggling.
LT: You mean she has no leadership qualities?
Mathibeli: She cannot lead the league. She is weak. Everybody knows that she is not strong at all. She cannot pull people together because she is not charismatic.
LT: You were expelled for insubordination. Before that you had had running battles with Thabane. What was your real problem with Thabane?
Mathibeli: I really don’t think that there was a problem. It’s only that some people started confusing him with lies. They told him that I wanted to topple him. This was a lie. He tried to recreate the same problems that we had resisted while we were in the LCD.
LT: What were these problems?
Mathibeli: He is trying to be a dictator. After some time he started doing things on his own without consulting the people. Ka ’nete, he was becoming a dictator and that irritated me. It hurt me that he was being hypocritical.
LT: But there were also other matters that are not related to politics that could have soured the relations like when his son was reported to have insulted your daughters.
Mathibeli: Oh yes that really shocked me. His son was very violent. She insulted my daughters. When I called him to complain about the issue he promised to come and sort out the matter but he never did. He was very cold and insensitive. Also, I was shocked when some people tried to attack me on March 30 at the party headquarters. Those boys looked like they had been rented. Their voices were full of hate and their eyes had anger. It shocked me that this party had come to this.
LT: And you blame the leadership for this?
Mathibeli: Those boys said they were members but that was my first time to see most of them. Maybe they were freelance hooligans but that incident clearly indicated that there was a problem in the leadership of the party.
LT: You speak like you have lots of support in the party. Where do you derive your power?
Mathibeli: I will not say that I am stronger than anyone but I believe that there are lots of people who support me. You must realise that politics is not about what you desire but what the people want.
LT: Some people say you have no mandate because you were never elected. They say you were just an interim president of the league.
Mathibeli: Tell me who was elected in that party. There is no one who was elected. It was an interim committee.
LT: Others say you talk too much.
Mathibeli: Yes I have to talk too much because I cannot allow people to destroy a party that was so vibrant when it started. People should not be allowed to do what they want with this party. It belongs to the people.
Those people who say that must thank me because I formed a party for them. I worked very hard while they were suffering in silence in the LCD. Yes I talk when I see that things are bad. I can talk from morning till night if people mess up things.