BNP conference in doubt
- as party members file lawsuit
Nat Molomo/Mohalenyane Phakela
IT never rains but pours for the governing coalition with the Basotho National Party (BNP) being the latest to be beset by infighting.
Seven BNP members have filed an urgent High Court application to block the party’s which threatens to block the party’s annual general meeting (AGM) on the grounds that the announcement of the conference was not done in accordance with the party’s constitution which stipulates that BNP members must be given at least 90 days’ notice before the AGM can be held. The AGM has been penciled in for 12 July 2019.
The applicants are Odilon Cekwane, Mothibeli Rateronko, ‘Manthati Tlali, Senate Bereng, Tanki Daniel Raboroko, ‘Makhotso Mafeto and Thabiso Majalle. They are from Qacha’s Nek, Mafeteng, Qhalasi and Qoaling constituencies.
There are 38 respondents who include the BNP, the BNP national executive committee (NEC) and the four constituency committees of Qacha’s Nek, Mafeteng, Qoaling and Qhalasi.
The matter is before Justice Molefi Makara who will hear the case on Tuesday 9 July 2019. This Tuesday, Justice Makara gave the respondents’ lawyers, Advocates Christopher Lephuthing and Monaheng Rasekoai, until today to file their opposing papers. The applicants are represented by Advocate Molise Molise.
The applicants allege that the party’s NEC wants to hold the AGM in contravention of the BNP’s constitution and therefore the AGM should be cancelled by the High Court.
They have petitioned the court to order the BNP’s NEC to call for the conference in terms of section 11 (16) (c) of the party’s constitution which stipulates that “the notice period given to members of BNP is full 90 days prior to holding of the AGM or any other reasonable period”.
The applicants also asked the court to declare that “the decision of the NEC of BNP to announce and call for the holding of AGM on 12 July be reviewed, corrected and set aside”.
The applicants further want the court to nullify the elections for the constituency committees in Qacha’s Nek, Qoaling, Qhalasi and Mafeteng.
“The elections for the BNP committee members for Qacha’s Nek, Qoaling, Qhalasi and Mafeteng should be reviewed, corrected and set aside, then fresh elections be held.”
According to the founding affidavit of Mr Cekwane (Qacha’s Nek constituency), the four constituencies’ elections were held without following proper procedures for such elections.
Mr Cekwane said what was supposed to be a platform for the party leader, Thesele Maseribane, to discuss the multi-sector national reforms in Qacha’s Nek was “surprisingly” and unprocedurally turned into an elective conference for the constituency committees.
“Surprisingly, some party officials, Matsoso Tsoaeli and outgoing constituency chairperson Nthabiseng Makoae, said the meeting would no longer be a pitso (gathering) of the leader but to elect the constituency committee.
“The members of the outgoing committee of the constituency (Qacha’s Nek) objected and stated that it is improper to hold elections when the meeting was not meant for electing constituency committee but that was rejected.
“The people at the pitso were from five different constituencies of Hloahloeng, Qhoali, Qacha, Tsoelike and Lebakeng. BNP members who are not from Qacha’s Nek constituency participated and nominated people into the committee. People who were elected do not even know the number of voters or those who declined to vote,” Mr Cekwane states.
The BNP is part of a four party governing coalition which also includes Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats and Labour minister Keketso Rantšo’s Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
While all the parties in government have had their share of upheavals, the infighting within the ABC is by far the biggest as it has effectively split the party into the old and new NEC factions. The ABC power struggle is likely to collapse the government after legislators loyal to ABC deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao joined forces with the opposition to file a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.