Disgruntled BNP members mull no-confidence against Mofomobe

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Bongiwe Zihlangu

BARELY eight months after his controversial election, Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Machesetsa Mofomobe is starring down the barrel of a gun. This amid revelations that he has lost the support of some members of his party’s national executive committee (NEC).

Sources close to developments in the party this week told this publication that his opponents are planning to pass a no confidence vote against Mr Mofomobe when the party goes for its annual general meeting (AGM) sometime next month.

In a separate interview, Mr Mofomobe said he was aware of the machinations to oust him. However, they will come to nothing, he vowed.

According to several party insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, Mr Mofomobe is accused of “inept leadership, failing to articulate issues affecting ordinary Basotho, misuse of party funds, malicious and unwarranted attacks on his political opponents, incapacity to address and resolve intra-party conflict, lack of empathy, disrespecting party members, and using people for his own ends only to discard them afterwards”.

Apart from this, the insiders allege that Mr Mofomobe seems to be comfortable leading the BNP with a “limping NEC”. They said the party currently has no deputy leader, secretary-general, treasurer and chairperson.

The party should have held elections to fill the posts in November 2021 but could not do so due to lack of funds. The secretary general’s post was held by former Mofomobe loyalist, Tšepo Lethobane, who was in October 2021, handed a two-year suspension for allegedly embezzling party funds.

Currently the holders of those posts are only acting until substantive incumbents are elected.

Those holding the posts in an acting capacity are Bothata Lephema (deputy leader) Moeketsi Hanyane (secretary general), Keletso Mphoso (treasurer) and Sam Makatse (chairperson).

The party insiders allege that Mr Mofomobe dos not want these vacancies to be filled via an election for fear that those elected might turn out to individuals who do not do his bidding.

“Furthermore, Mofomobe who is Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing Minister, is accused of neglecting his ministerial duties,” an insider said.

“He (Mofomobe) hardly ever shows up at his ministerial office. Adding fuel to the fire are his strained relations with his principal secretary (PS) Bereng Makotoko.

“There is no love lost between Mofomobe and Makotoko and the latter is the main instigator of the anticipated no-confidence vote as he harbours an ambition of filling the deputy leader’s position and eventually replacing Mofomobe as leader,” the source said.

Some party members are said to be pushing for a no-confidence vote at next month’s AGM.

Mr Makotoko is said to be lobbying the various constituencies to support the anticipated proposal for a no confidence vote.

“Some of the constituencies are up in arms with Mofomobe because of the way (suspended secretary general) Lethobane was treated. They are demanding evidence that he indeed stole from the party. The substantive treasurer Nthabiseng Makoae dumped the party immediately after the (June 2021) elections (which catapulted Mofomobe to power) and Lethobane went for months without being paid his salary.

“Under the circumstances, Lethobane was tempted to dip his hands into the money from rentals. Therefore, he should not have been treated harshly,” another BNP insider said.

Another party member said Mr Mofomobe should also be probed for improperly securing jobs for his loyalists at the Ministry of Home Affairs where he served as deputy minister before his promotion to full minister at the small business ministry.

“There are disgruntled people who are questioning what Machesetsa has done for the BNP since he became leader. When Machesetsa campaigned to be leader, he made several promises including the establishment of a BNP burial scheme, a party-funded scholarship programme and so much more. He is just a smooth talker who talks people into doing things, only to throw them under the bus later.

“Instead of visiting constituencies and promoting unity within the party, Mofomobe is busy supporting the likes of Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) against his opponents within his ABC party. He is also focused on pushing for the prosecution of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his wife ‘Maesaiah for allegedly murdering former First Lady Lipolelo Thabane.

“He is also busy supporting Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader (Nqosa) Mahao’s quest to have those (former army commander Tlali Kamoli and others) who murdered his younger brother (army commander Maaparankoe Mahao) prosecuted. He is doing all this because he is looking to piggyback on the BAP in the hope of remaining in government after the elections (due in September this year),” the BNP member said.

Contacted for comment, Mr Mofomobe accused Messrs Makotoko and Lethobane of plotting against him. He however, said their plans would come to naught.

“We continue to work well with Makotoko in discharging our ministerial duties. We attend meetings together and he has been responsible for arranging several ministerial assignments for me to carry out.

“This is not to say I am not aware of his shenanigans. I know what he has been doing behind my back. But I will not go out of my way to confront him about it. He has a democratic right to compete and to harbour ambitions of becoming BNP leader. It is just so sad that the manner he is going about is deceitful.

“Makotoko and Lethobane have been busy visiting constituencies and picking individuals with whom to work with from the committees. Whatever is being planned with those individuals will never succeed.

“If these people were familiar with BNP history, they would recall that during former leader Metsing Lekhanya’s tenure, a damper was put on a plan to oust him via a no confidence vote during an AGM because that indaba was convened exclusive for a specific agenda.  The March AGM will strictly be about the tabling of various reports by the committees hence a no confidence motion can’t be tabled,” Mr Mofomobe said.

On allegations of mistreating Lethobane, Mr Mofomobe said he suspended the latter on the recommendations of the NEC after a lengthy disciplinary hearing. He said Mr Lethobane had been reported to the police and would soon appear in court over the theft of party funds.

“I must state that as secretary general, Lethobane was earning an M18 000 monthly salary. He stole from the party and he must be held to account. For the first time in the history of BNP, I stood up and did something because I cannot stand corruption,” Mr Mofomobe said.

He denied supporting Professor Mahao in the hope of riding on the BAP’s coattails to get back into government after the elections.

“People are entitled to their opinions but I have the right to support anyone who is being treated unjustly. I have always supported the Mahao family getting justice for their slain brother Lt-Gen Mahao.

“I will continue supporting them,” Mr Mofomobe said.

 

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