ONE of the Basotho National Party (BNP) leadership hopefuls, ‘Mota Nkuatsana, has refused to apologise for accusing the Thesele Maseribane-led national executive committee (NEC) of corruption.
Adv Nkuatsana is one of the three contestants for the soon-to-be vacant BNP leadership post who allegedly went on national radio to accuse the NEC of corruption.
The other two are Professor Lehlohonolo Mosotho and ‘Mamotšepe Motšepe. They were slapped with letters demanding that they retract their statements and apologise for their conduct “which is likely to bring the party into disrepute”.
The letters were authored by BNP secretary general, Tšepo Lethobane, on 14 April 2021.
Mr Lethobane demanded that Adv Nkuatsana should apologise for “falsely” alleging that the current BNP leadership is corrupt. Adv Nkuatsana is also alleged to have accused Mr Mofomobe of “fondling” an unidentified woman at the party’s offices. The alleged incident is said to have occurred in 2019. However, Mr Mofomobe has never been charged over the incident.
Adv Nkuatsana is refusing to apologise because he feels Mr Lethobane has unfairly judged him.
“Honorable, it is not clear how your letter came about,” Adv Nkuatsana states in his reply to Mr Lethobane this week.
“Was it a position that was decided at some meeting? If so, who convened the meeting? Why, where and when?
“It is also not clear in which capacity you are writing to me. Are you the complainant because you state your disappointment at my alleged utterances on Radio Lesotho? Or are you writing as a mediator? Are you writing as a prosecutor or judge as you do hereby direct me to apologise?
“Above all, your letter does not do me any justice because you have denied me the opportunity to answer your accusations. You have independently decided to trample upon my rights as enshrined in the principles of natural justice.
“I have never said that the BNP is corrupt. You should remember that I was on radio as part of my campaign for the BNP leadership and under no circumstances would I campaign to be leader of a corrupt party. You didn’t hear me well and you have a right to go to the radio station and request a recording of that programme.
“Honorable, your judgment to have me apologise is senseless. I don’t understand on which issue you want me to apologise. Is it on the one of the BNP being corrupt or the one that’s of public interest on the fondling of a woman in the BNP offices? Or have I reminded Basotho or BNP Members a secret they were not supposed to know according to you?
“I don’t see anywhere in your letter where you say party members or the public are dissatisfied with my utterances but I realise that it’s only you as you indicate your disappointment.
“I don’t find any compelling reason why I should ask for forgiveness from anyone, not even the radio. Instead, you are giving me the strength to fight male politicians to respect women without any fear,” Adv Nkuatsana states.
He goes on to urge Mr Lethobane to uphold and protect the integrity of the BNP by ensuring that Mr Mofomobe, who is also Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, is hauled before the courts to answer for alleged sexual abuse.
He says Mr Mofomobe should also be made to go to on radio and apologise “for dragging the good name of the party through the mud, more especially because this was not the first incident he is purported to have committed on various victims”.
“To assist you towards taking action, I would like you to be conscious of the following; the issue of fondling that I referred to happened almost two years ago, while the other one involving one Mirriam Mapuru happened in 2016. I put it to you that first victim, Mirriam Mapuru, reported her matter to the national executive committee and the leader in 2016.
“As for the second victim, ‘Mamaria Chakache, she first reported to the leader and later wrote to the national executive committee in 2019. After she went unassisted, she then reported the matter to the police who then opened a case referenced RCI/17/07/19. The same matter was published in various media platforms and surprisingly the BNP office has never taken action against these publications for spreading lies or refuted such.”
Adv Nkuatsana also accuses Mr Mofomobe of racism after he allegedly called one of the party members, Lefa McPherson, ‘lebastere’ which translates to ‘coloured person’.
This is not the first time Mr Mofomobe has been accused of derogatory language. Last August he attacked what he said were makoerekoere owned newspapers for allegedly publishing falsehoods against Chief Maseribane. Makoerekoere is a derogatory and xenophobic word used in reference to foreigners.
Mr Mofomobe’s critics say if he wins the BNP leadership and fails to grow up, he will inevitably destroy the party which survives only on the mercy of proportional representation seats.
Mr Mofomobe’s makoerekoere attack was in reference to the Lesotho Times after it published a story in which National Emergency Command Centre (NECC) officials were accused of misusing funds meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Maseribane chaired the short-lived NECC, originally established by ex-premier Thomas Thabane in March 2020 to spearhead the fight against the pandemic. It was disbanded by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro in June 2020 and replaced by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC).
Last August, the Lesotho Times published a confidential payment schedule submitted to treasury which showed that, before its disbandment, the NECC gobbled about M161 million of the M698 million budgeted for the fight against Covid-19 within the short three-month period of its existence. The expenditure scheduled clearly showed that some expenses were grossly inflated.
The Lesotho Times report however, never said Chief Maseribane was personally responsible for abusing any funds. But in a subsequent foul-mouthed address to BNP supporters, Mr Mofomobe said claims that Chief ‘Maseribane had misappropriated NECC funds were “falsehoods that were being peddled by makoerekoere owned newspapers”.
In his reply to Mr Lethobane, Adv Nkuatsana wants to know why Mr Mofomobe, who is also contesting the BNP leadership post, has never been taken to task for his numerous “transgressions”.
“I am just wondering if the NEC has ever written to this candidate (Mofomobe) directing him to publicly apologise as it has done with me. For these very reasons, I am not going to ask for any forgiveness,” Adv Nkuatsana states.
Contacted for comment, Mr Lethobane insisted that the onus was on Adv Nkuatsana to prove his allegations, failing which he should apologise.
“I still hold that he who alleges should present the evidence,” Mr Lethobane told the Lesotho Times this week.
He said Prof Mosotho was yet to respond while Ms Motšepe had asked for forgiveness “though not in a clear manner”. He would not be drawn to saying what Ms Motšepe had exactly said by way of apology. Ms Motšepe was not reachable for comment.
Prof Mosotho last week told this publication that he never said that the BNP was corrupt.
“I only said there were some elements of corruption in the manner in which the party is being run. That was just political semantics when I said the party is in ICU. It’s not my fault if they can’t analyse or interpret that politically.
“The office is being run very unprofessionally and I think that the deputy leader (Mofomobe) has an unfair advantage over all of us hence there is even leakage of some confidential documents from the office to him which is very unprofessional,” said Prof Mosotho.
Ironically, Adv Nkuoatsana wants Chief Maseribane to immediately step down and allow Mr Mofomobe to assume the BNP leadership until elections are held to choose the substantive leader.
Adv Nkuoatsana and six others filed a 25 March 2021 High Court application for the removal of Chief ‘Maseribane who is also Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing minister.
They accuse Chief ‘Maseribane of intending to stay in office in violation of the party’s constitution. Chief Maseribane has refuted the allegation in his opposing papers.
Other BNP leadership hopefuls are Lesojane Leuta and Machere Seutloali.