BNP ditches anniversary plans

MASERU — The Basotho National Party (BNP) this week abandoned plans to celebrate the party’s 50th anniversary because the party’s coffers are dry, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
The commemorations were due to start tomorrow and continue into Saturday.
Although the official line is that the national executive committee was trying to avoid confrontation between factions in the party, highly placed sources said the real issue is that the party has failed to raise enough money for the feast.
Warring factions in the party have been fighting for the right to hold the celebrations at Leabua Jonathan’s homestead in Kolonyama in Leribe. Jonathan was the founder of the BNP.
Suspended league president, Moeketsi Hanyane, and legislator Seabata Thabisi, are the prominent participants in a faction that had been fighting the Metsing Lekhanya-led leadership.
The celebrations were meant to coincide with Jonathan’s birthday (October 31) and Independence Day (October 4).
“The BNP will not be throwing a feast to celebrate the party founder’s legacy due to its (financial) bankruptcy. The party is in a financial mess,” the source said.
According to the source, sponsors who usually save the day when there are major events to celebrate in the party have turned their back on the BNP “mostly because they do not approve of the current party leadership, especially leader Metsing Lekhanya”.
“Even sponsors who usually come to the rescue have turned their back on the party as they do not approve of the current party leadership, especially leader Metsing Lekhanya,” the source said.
The source added that sponsors who still want to be associated with the BNP have diverted their sponsorship to an anti-Lekhanya faction which has been pushing for him to step down.
The anti-Lekhanya faction was in May granted permission by Chief Jonathan’s family to celebrate the party founder’s legacy at the family’s residence in Kolonyama, Ha-Rakolo.
Hanyane said it was not surprising that the executive committee had abandoned their plan to hold the celebrations. 
“They are aware that they do not stand a chance against us. Their eyes have been opened to the fact that everybody will travel to Kolonyama to celebrate and honour Chief Jonathan with his widow and children at the family homestead,” Hanyane said.
Hanyane said a delegation of ordinary party supporters approached the Jonathan family with a request to celebrate the party’s legacy at his home as a way of honouring him.
“The family granted us permission to hold our celebrations at our leader’s homestead and we started making preparations thereafter. However, the head office was not happy when the news reached them,” Hanyane said.
Hanyane said he later heard that the head office sent a delegation to the Jonathan family to counter his group’s request to hold similar celebrations at the Kolonyama residence.
“I heard that the BNP head office sent a delegation requesting the family’s permission to conduct their own celebrations at Chief Jonathan’s home. I am told the family informed them that we had already beaten them to it and suggested to them that both groups could join heads and plan to celebrate together,” Hanyane said.
Asked why the group was not incorporating the BNP national executive committee, Thabisi said “relations between us and the head office are sour”.
“It is common knowledge that our relations with the head office are sour. Therefore this group here can’t make any plans with them,” Thabisi said.
Jonathan’s daughter, Ntahli, who also acts as her mother’s spokesperson, concurred with Hanyane’s account of events.
Ntahli is the daughter of ‘Mantahli, Jonathan’s widow.
She added that party spokesperson Majara Molapo “seemed to understand and agree with us”.
However, she said that was the last they heard from the head office until they received an invitation requesting the presence of Jonathan’s widow at the BNP headquarters in Maseru on the same dates that the other factions had chosen to celebrate in Kolonyama.
She said the family had indicated Jonathan’s widow will not be attending the Maseru function.
However, Lekhooana Jonathan who was heading the planning committee for the celebrations planned by the party leadership said allegations that the party had cancelled the events because of financial problems were malicious.
Lekhooana Jonathan is a brother to the late BNP leader.
“We are a self-sufficient political party. We do not look out for handouts for our survival. These are just malicious rumours meant to sow confusion and render our party irrelevant,” he said. 
“We pulled out simply because it was logical to do so. We did not want to be involved in a tug-of-war with those insubordinates. Those people hijacked our plans to prove a point. We would rather postpone our plans than drag our party founder’s memory into this senseless dispute,” Jonathan said.
“They are stubborn and disrespectful. They are on a mission to discredit the BNP. You have no idea just how long we prayed and begged them to work together with us. But they were too stubborn and proud to compromise.
“They should not get carried away. We are aware that although they are all on suspension, they are working hard to sow confusion. They do it because they want to form a party and steal members from the BNP.”
He said the party had also considered that Makototoko “Mashai” Lerotholi will be buried this weekend.
“One would remember that we are a family of chiefs. One of us has passed away and we cannot celebrate in the midst of such sadness. We have to attend his funeral and bury him with dignity.”
BNP secretary general Ranthomeng Matete said the allegations were part of a propaganda campaign to discredit the party.
“I wish to strongly condemn what they have said. They are on a mission to discredit the leadership of the party,” Matete said.
“These very same people who call themselves party supporters of good faith don’t even feature in the party structures.”

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