Famo leader threatens to “deal with Majoro”
…Lehlanya riled by premier’s no show at ABC rally
A TERENE Famo gang leader has threatened to “deal” with Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro for failing to attend the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s rally in Mohale’s Hoek alongside party leader, Nkaku Kabi.
Sarele Sello, popularly known as Lehlanya (the crazy one), was not amused by the absence of Dr Majoro who was in Quthing for the burial of slain National University of Lesotho (NUL) student, Kopano Makutoane.
It is not clear whether Lehlanya was aware that Dr Majoro was committed elsewhere. The fiery Famo leader, whose faction is aligned to the ABC, was nonetheless unimpressed by the premier’s absence especially as Mr Kabi recently announced that he and the premier had buried the hatchet, amid the vicious factionalism threatening the party’s prospects in elections due in October 2022.
Mr Kabi broke the news of their reconciliation while addressing ABC supporters three weeks ago in Hlotse, Leribe. He said as a demonstration of their newly-minted unity, the erstwhile foes would henceforth be addressing joint rallies, with the first of these slated for Koro-Koro a fortnight ago. However, Dr Majoro did not attend that rally as he was away for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
He also did not show up for the Sunday rally in Mohale’s Hoek as he was attending the funeral of the 22-year-old Mr Makutoane who was shot dead by police during a student strike over allowances on 16 June 2022.
His absence did not go down well with Lehlanya who said all ABC members must be present at the party’s rallies at all times.
Taking to the podium, he bellowed, “Where is the Prime Minister?”
“This is his last opportunity, and I swear I will deal with him. I’m serious. We aren’t here to play,” Lehlanya said. He however, did not say what action he would take against Dr Majoro. Nevertheless, threats by Famo gangsters should be taken seriously even by no less an authority as Dr Majoro. The Famo gangs have been implicated in killings countrywide. The late Famo gang leader, Mosotho Chakela, was implicated in the 14 June 2017 murder of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo. Mr Thabane and his current wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, are due to stand trial for Lipolelo’s murder on 26 July 2022.
On his part, Mr Kabi said he had made peace with Dr Majoro and urged all party members to embrace their newly minted working relationship.
“There’s no more infighting in the ABC. It is cordial and you can tell from posts by party members on social media,” Mr Kabi said.
Mr Kabi and Dr Majoro had been at each other’ throats after the prime minister refused to relinquish his position after losing the party’s leadership contest to Mr Kabi in January this year. The ABC leader subsequently supported a parliamentary vote of no confidence against Dr Majoro but the prime minister prevailed. Dr Majoro had vowed to remain in power until the elections though he quit the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC).
Even before the Majoro-Kabi war, the ABC was already on the back foot due to incessant infighting, which began three years ago when former leader Thomas Thabane rejected the February 2019 election of his former deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao. The subsequent infighting allowed the Democratic Congress (DC) which had only recovered from its own debilitating internal squabbles, to gain ground on its main partner in the current coalition government.
As if the DC recovery under Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu (who took over from founding leader Pakalitha Mosisili in February 2019) was not enough, prominent businessman Sam Matekane then formed his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party in March this year.
In the first two months of its formation, the RFP lured prominent politicians like former cabinet ministers Mahali Phamotse, Tlohelang Aumane, Leketekete Khetso and former deputy minister ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli. All these joined from the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD). Their arrival added to the RFP’s already stellar cast of personalities including former Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) governor, Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane; former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and prominent Moshoeshoe Walk organiser, Thabo Maretlane.
Former Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) head of investment promotion, Mokhethi Shelile, prominent businessman Lephema Lebona and former Accountant General Sam Mphaka, former DC stalwart Tlohang Sekhamane, had joined the RFP at its inception.
Faced with this existential threat, Mr Kabi and Dr Majoro had then agreed to talk peace and try and unite ahead of the elections.
Despite their moves to close ranks, obstacles remain in the path to achieving full reconciliation as some key party officials – like spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa – remain unconvinced of the sincerity of Dr Majoro and his allies.
Meanwhile, Mr Kabi told the Mohale’s Hoek rally that the establishment of an agricultural bank to support commercial agriculture was high up his list of priorities if elected into office this year.
He said a bank dedicated to financing agriculture would go a long way in reducing the country’s heavy reliance on imported agricultural products.
He said in line with his party’s Sera Sa Motho ke Tlala (a person’s enemy is hunger) slogan, an ABC government would work hard to create a viable commercial agricultural sector to replace the predominantly subsistence farming practices.
The rally was attended by ABC supporters mainly from the three southern districts of Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing. As has become the norm at ABC rallies, members of Lehlanya and his Famo gang were in attendance and they performed some songs from the immensely popular music genre. Their performances were wildly cheered by the crowd.
In his address, Mr Kabi said an agricultural bank was necessary because existing financial institutions had allegedly failed to provide capital to transform the agricultural sector.
“We have already invited companies that will work with Basotho to establish an agricultural bank in the country.
“Anyone who expects farmers to depend on the existing banks that do not cater for the agricultural sector for the country’s future is not serious,” Mr Kabi said.
He also paid tribute to the ABC led-coalition for clinching the lucrative US$320 million second Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact from the United States (US).
He said the compact, signed in May 2022, would help transform the agricultural sector through its support for irrigation schemes.
Under the compact’s market-driven irrigated horticulture (MDIH) project, up to 2000 hectares would be put under irrigation at several sites across the country. The project has a strong focus on empowering communities, landholders and farmers.
“Through this funding which was signed for by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, we will no longer depend on rain for farming. We will be able to irrigate our crops. By so doing, we will be able to transform our agricultural production sector,” Mr Kabi said, adding commercialisation of agriculture was the only way to reduce the dependence on food imports.