… ABC deputy leader dismisses claims that he plans to quit the party in frustration.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader, Tlali Khasu, has scoffed at suggestions that he was considering joining Mophato Monyake’s newly formed Progressive Democrats (PD).
ABC insiders had told the Lesotho Times that Mr Khasu would jump ship once parliament was dissolved on 5 December 2014 and was set to contest the 28 February 2015 snap election on a PD ticket.
According to the insiders, Mr Khasu, who is also the minister of mining, was no longer happy in the ABC as it appeared party leader, Thomas Thabane, was sidelining him in favour of chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe.
However, Mr Khasu on Tuesday this week told the Lesotho Times he would not dump a brand like the ABC for a “no party such as the PD”.
“I am not crazy. I cannot establish a political party and brand such as the ABC and leave it for a non-event. The PD is not a party worth my membership; I am still comfortable where I am and will be here for as long as ABC supporters are satisfied with my presence and efforts,” Mr Khasu said.
He also shed some light on his professional relationship with Mr Maliehe, who is allegedly favoured by Dr Thabane, who is also the country’s prime minister.
“I have my own duties and responsibilities. For example, if the leader has commitments elsewhere and we have National Executive Committee meetings or rallies, I take over and address them as acting leader, and not Mr Maliehe. People spreading this propaganda should be specific and outline the duties and responsibilities alleged to have been given to Mr Maliehe at my expense, and never associate me with something like the PD,” he said.
Mr Khasu further said he would take part in ABC primary elections in Peka constituency next week to confirm his continued membership of the party, formed by Dr Thabane and 16 other disgruntled Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Members of Parliament in October 2006.
“I am going to win those primary elections and proceed to stand in the national elections in February next year as an ABC candidate. I promise my supporters that I’m going to win the national elections under the umbrella of the ABC, and not any other party,” Mr Khasu said.
However, Mr Monyake, who quit the ABC after being fired by Dr Thabane as Justice and Correctional Services minister in February this year, and subsequently launched the PD, told the Lesotho Times that he would welcome Mr Khasu into his party.
“This is the first time I am hearing that Mr Khasu wanted to join the PD after the dissolution of parliament but if he decides to do so, I would welcome him with both hands.
“Mr Khasu was my senior in high school and also my colleague when I was still in cabinet. I know his strengths and should he come to the PD, it would be a big development for the party.”
Mr Monyake continued: “Allegations that Mr Khasu wants to leave the ABC don’t surprise me. People who elected him to the position of deputy party leader thought they could manipulate and make him jump whenever they wanted, which he has refused to do. This should have come as a disappointment and surprise to them hence their decision to frustrate him out of the ABC,” Mr Monyake said.
Meanwhile, the Lesotho Times understands the PD is struggling to register at least five hundred supporters for it to be recognised by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
“There are about 200 names in the PD register, but the surprising thing is they all bear the same signature. IEC officials had to go to Monyake’s Stadium Area constituency to verify the names that appear in the register and confirm their membership for the PD.
“However, the officials could not meet those people, and the few they did, distanced themselves from the party. So Ntate Monyake was asked by the IEC to explain what now appears to be the fraudulent registration of supporters.”
Asked to shed more light on the matter, Mr Monyake said his party had met all the IEC requirements, adding the verification of names and signatures was finalised on Tuesday this week.
“What happened was most of our members who appeared in the register submitted to the IEC, paid their subscription fees but were not present to append their signatures in the book, hence there was only one signature.
“IEC officials went to individuals whose names appeared in the register to verify their membership of the PD and that process has since been completed.
“We are now hoping that the PD is going to be registered with the IEC next week, because we will be contesting next year’s snap election,” Mr Monyake said.
Lesotho holds an early election on 28 February 2015 instead of the initial 2017, after the coalition government comprising the ABC, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National party (BNP), collapsed following sharp differences between Dr Thabane and Deputy Prime Minister and LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing.
Mr Metsing accused Dr Thabane of not consulting him and BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane when making crucial decisions regarding the government despite committing to do so when they formed the country’s coalition administration in June 2012.