A WAR of words has erupted between All Basotho Convention (ABC) Secretary General Lebohang Hlaele and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing, over the latter’s sensational claims that Mr Hlaele funded the LCD’s 2012 election campaign.
Mr Metsing made the claims while addressing a weekend LCD rally in Qaqatu, Mohale’s Hoek. After the 2012 polls failed to produce an outright winner, the Thomas Thabane-led ABC, LCD and Chief Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP) forged Lesotho’s first governing coalition. The tripartite government collapsed in 2015 when Mr Metsing, who was Deputy Prime Minister, fell out with then and current premier, Dr Thabane.
Mr Hlaele is Dr Thabane’s son in law. He is married to the premier’s daughter, Advocate ‘Mabatšoeneng Hlaele. Mr Hlaele and Dr Thabane however, fell out over Mr Hlaele’s support for Professor Nqosa Mahao’s candidature for the post of ABC deputy leader which Prof Mahao convincingly won at the party’s February 2019 elective conference.
Mr Hlaele and the rest of the pro-Mahao faction of the ABC have since filed a no confidence motion against Dr Thabane. The Democratic Congress (DC) and other opposition parties have pledged to support the Mahao faction’s bid to oust to Dr Thabane when the motion is eventually tabled in parliament and brought to vote.
However, Mr Metsing is still holding out for a possible deal to save Dr Thabane from ouster on condition he accepts proposals for the establishment of a government of national unity (GNU).
There have been widespread allegations that Mr Metsing has inked a deal to save Dr Thabane’s government in exchange for the Deputy Prime Minister’s post alongside the incumbent Monyane Moleleki in a new coalition deal.
However, the ABC and the LCD have denied inking such a deal and Mr Metsing has said his party is prepared to vote against the motion only if Dr Thabane agrees to a GNU.
This week, Mr Metsing accused Mr Hlaele of spreading the allegations that he (Mr Metsing) had agreed to back Dr Thabane against the no confidence motion.
Mr Metsing said that Mr Hlaele was his friend and the latter had even gone to the extent of secretly funding the LCD’s 2012 election campaign.
He however, said as a principled man, he (Mr Metsing) would not be swayed by their friendship to side with Mr Hlaele and the Mahao faction against Dr Thabane.
“I want to tell you that Mr Lebohang Hlaele was my best friend and even funded the LCD’s 2012 elections campaign,” Mr Metsing told the LCD supporters.
“That’s how close we were but as the LCD leader, there are certain principles this party is founded on and which I have to safeguard. For that reason, we (LCD and the Mahao faction) can’t work together on the basis of friendship alone,” Mr Metsing said, adding he would only work with whichever ABC faction was amenable to a GNU.
In a subsequent interview with this publication, Mr Hlaele hit back at Mr Metsing, saying the latter’s election funding claims were preposterous.
“That is far-fetched. How could I possibly fund the LCD when I was also contesting in the same elections? In as much as he is my friend, he is my political rival, there is simply no way I could have funded his electoral campaign.
“Mr Metsing is still my friend but I have never funded LCD. I have never had any interest in the LCD. You can’t fund your rival and contest the same elections. That would be a very dangerous contradiction and it can’t be right,” Mr Hlaele said.