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Court to rule on Thabane ouster today

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Mohalenyane Phakela

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, will today know whether or not he will be ousted as his party’s boss.

High Court Justice Polo Banyane is expected to deliver judgment on a case brought by two ABC officials, Sekhonyana Mosenene and Thabo Sekonyela, who want to have Mr Thabane removed as leader, claiming he was too old and too ill to continue holding the post.

They have sought urgent reliefs to, among other things, interdict Mr Thabane from making decisions on behalf of the ABC and attending its NEC meetings due to his alleged ill health until a new leader is elected at an elective conference

The judge was due to have given her judgment yesterday but postponed it to today due to “unavoidable circumstances”. She had reserved her ruling on Monday after hearing arguments from lawyers representing both sides.

Messrs Mosenene and Sekonyela also want three other officials, ABC Women’s League President Malelaka Lehohla, ABC youth league boss Tšoaloane Maphasa and one Makopoi Mohapi, booted out because their terms have expired and conferences haven’t yet been held to replace them.

Mr Mosenene represents taxi operators in the ABC’s NEC while Mr Sekonyela represents the party’s Mokhotlong constituencies.  The duo is aligned to an ABC faction led by deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao, which recently rebutted claims by the party’s spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, that the NEC had resolved to recall Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.

Mr Masoetsa a key member of a new faction led by Prof Mahao’s erstwhile ally, secretary general Lebohang Hlaele, had claimed that the decision to recall Dr Majoro had been reached by the NEC because Dr Majoro was disrespecting it.

Messers Mosenene and Sekonyela, say they now want to stop Mr Thabane from being used in any agenda to oust Dr Majoro, hence their urgent application.

The ABC’s NEC, the ABC, Mr Thabane, Ms Lehohla, Mr Maphasa, Ms Mohapi, former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane, the Master of High Court and Attorney General are first to ninth respondents respectively in their bizarre application.

Their lawyer Advocate Letuka Molati asked the court to treat the matter with urgency and bar Mr Thabane from attending ABC NEC meetings because “his health does not allow him to continue leading the party”. He told the court the factionalism in the ABC threatened to destabilise the government as one faction was seeking Dr Majoro’s ouster.

A clear sign that Mr Thabane was no longer fit to lead the ABC, according to Adv Molati, was an incident during the meeting of 8 February 2021 in which Mr Thabane asked who was chairing the meeting yet he was the one chairing.

However, Mr Kuili Ndebele, representing the respondents, shot down the arguments saying there was no basis for all the urgent reliefs sought.  The applicants had failed to demonstrate that any of their threats would suffer if Mr Thabane remained in office.  Only two of the NEC members had also brought the application yet the body consisted of 20 people.  The three officials whose tenures had expired could not be replaced because Covid-19 precluded the party from convening conferences to replace them. It had been agreed they remain in office, he argued.

Mr Ndebele was supported by Adv Salemane Phafane who argued the entire application to have Mr Thabane removed had no basis in law.

“The applicants are just turning themselves into busy bodies,” Adv Phafane argued, suggesting they had nothing else to do with their time.

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