Fresh poser for the ABC
- as Thabane, Majoro snub key party meeting,
- amid fears that more disgruntled MPs could ditch the party for Mahao’s BAP.
JUST when it seemed the infighting in the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) and its perennial instability was over following the departure of former deputy leader Nqosa Mahao, the party finds itself in a new quandary.
Senior party officials are said to be failing to hold joint meetings or work harmoniously to revitalise the party. This amid reports that party leader Thomas Thabane and his deputy, Moeketsi Majoro, snubbed a meeting called by the national executive committee (NEC) to rejuvenate the ABC in the wake of last month’s split which saw Prof Mahao jump ship to form his own Basotho Action Party (BAP).
Some senior party officials such as former minister and current Lithoteng legislator, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, are said to be livid with Mr Thabane and Prime Minister Majoro, saying their cavalier approach to serious party issues was causing despondency within the party. Mr Moramotse and others are also said to have expressed fears that the party leaders’ conduct could yet spark more defections to Prof Nqosa Mahao’s newly formed party.
The ABC members’ unhappiness with Dr Majoro and others as well as their fears of defections to Prof Mahao’s party are captured in an audio clip recorded by Mr Moramotse and sent to the ABC officials’ WhatsApp group this week.
The ABC split last month after Prof Mahao led nine disgruntled MPs to form BAP. Prof Mahao said he had decided to jump ship because he and other ABC MPs were “tired of the incessant infighting in the ABC”.
He also accused both Mr Hlaele and Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro of “reversing” the NEC’s hard work to rid itself of Mr Thabane by conniving to “deliver the ABC and government back to Makhoakhoeng”. Makhoakhoeng is the home of Mr Thabane.
He also promised that more MPs would defect to his party thus giving it a boost in liasing with other parties to push for a no confidence motion against Dr Majoro in parliament.
Although Prof Mahao has not obtained the hoped-for numbers to pull off his scheme to topple the government, the ABC is not leaving anything to chance. It has taken advantage of the recent unbanning of political gatherings to plan rallies and meetings aimed at reinvigorating the party and dissuading members from joining Prof Mahao’s party, among other things.
But these initiatives to keep Prof Mahao at bay could come unstuck amid indications that the party leadership and other senior officials are not singing from the same hymn book.
Party leader Thabane and his deputy Majoro are among eight senior ABC officials who are said to have snubbed a meeting for all the party’s Maseru district MPs in Roma on Sunday.
ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said only three members of parliament – ‘Mankoe Maime (Maama constituency), Thabang Mafojane (Motimposo), Lehlohonolo Moramotse (Lithoteng) – attended the meeting.
He could not say why Mr Thabane and Dr Majoro, who are MPs for the Ha Abia and Thetsane constituencies respectively, did not attend the meeting to map out the way forward in the wake of Prof Mahao and other MPs’ departure.
Other ABC MPs for the Maseru constituencies who also snubbed the meeting are deputy spokesperson and Social Development Minister ‘Matebatso Doti (Lithabaneng constituency), Finance Minister Thabo Sophonea (Thaba-Bosiu), Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Matšepo Ramakoae (Matsieng), Deputy secretary general and Water Minister Nkaku Kabi (Qeme), deputy chairperson Chalane Phori (Qoaling), Lepota Sekola (Makhaleng), Lesego Makgothi (Maseru) and Likopo Mahase (Mabote).
“The meeting was for all constituencies in the (Maseru) district. Each constituency was supposed to be represented by an MP, the constituency chairperson, secretary and treasurer,” Mr Masoetsa said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
“Not all MPs attended that meeting. Only MPs from Lithoteng, Roma and Motimposo attended. Some issued apologies while others did not but I don’t know who specifically apologised and who didn’t. Some say they were not given a clear explanation on the reasons for the meeting hence their no show,” Mr Masoetsa said.
Mr Thabane, Dr Majoro and others’ no show at the Roma meeting has angered other party officials who accuse them of behaving as though they are “above the party”.
A leaked audio said to have been recorded and shared to the ABC officials’ WhatsApp group by former Police and Public safety Minister Moramotse captures the anger of some senior party members at Mr Thabane, Dr Majoro and others’ seemingly “cavalier approach” to party issues.
It also captures the ABC’s fears of losing more MPs and members to Prof Mahao’s party.
Mr Moramotse yesterday denied that he was the one who recorded the audio. However, ABC members insist he recorded the audio in which he expresses anger and frustrations.
“We were all invited to a meeting in Maama constituency,” a person said to be Mr Moramotse is heard saying in the audio.
“Only three MPs turned up for the meeting and it looks like it is now becoming a norm for MPs to miss meetings.
“My honourable members, I think we are taking Kobotata (the ABC) for granted. I don’t know what is happening and people are confused. I am furious. I am unhappy to see that you are pushing our members to join this new (Mahao) party.
“I am particularly unhappy with MPs who were appointed ministers. There is nothing as bad as seeing someone voted into power snubbing meetings. One wonders if that person regards themselves as above Kobotata itself. Repent from your behaviour if you still care about Kobotata. Let us repent honourable members, your behavior is very bad,” Mr Moramotse says.
Other ABC MPs are heard expressing fears that the audio may be leaked but the person said to be Mr Moramotse is heard saying he does not care if it is leaked.
“Honourable member for Malimong (Leshoboro Mohlajoa), this is politics. This is not a church gathering and it is okay for this audio to be leaked so that ABC members can hear that these people do not show up when invited for meetings.
“We received invitation letters and a circular was issued saying we must go to Roma. The NEC instructed Maseru MPs to go to Roma…I will speak my mind because I am in politics. It is fine if my audio is leaked because I am not spewing insults but building my party.
“I am not afraid of anyone here. I am talking politics because I am a politician. The most painful thing is seeing that the carpet is gradually being pulled from under our feet. There are many MPs in Maseru and only three of us attended the meeting. It is a disgrace,” Mr Moramotse says.
He said there was an urgent need for the ABC to hold a rally in Prof Mahao’s Koro-Koro stronghold this Sunday. He warned that failure to do so would have serious repercussions for the party which recently lost nine MPs to Prof Mahao’s BAP.
Mokhotlong MP Tefo Mapesela also dumped the ABC last month to form his own Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP) while Mechachane MP Nyapane Kaya joined Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane’s Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
Prof Mahao will be holding a rally in Koro-Koro on Sunday as part of a campaign to woo more grassroots voters to his party. Prof Mahao enjoys the support of Koro-Koro MP Motebang Koma who is one of nine MPs who dumped the ABC for the BAP last month.
It is the same Koro-Koro constituency which nominated Prof Mahao for the ABC’s deputy leader’s post which he won in February 2019.
Mr Moramotse said unless the ABC countered Prof Mahao by holding its own rallies, they would have a “serious problem” on their hands.
“If we don’t hold a rally this coming Sunday in Koro-Koro, we will have a serious problem. The NEC must rise up before it causes us the serious problem of many people leaving us for the new party which has just split from us,” Mr Moramotse said.