BASOTHO National Party (BNP) Secretary-General (SG) Lesojane Leuta has launched a broadside at the party’s acting Executive Secretary Tšeliso Lesenya, accusing the latter of undermining him by performing duties beyond his mandate.
Mr Leuta told the Lesotho Times this week that Mr Lesenya had taken on duties under the purview of his office and Deputy SG Miriam Mapuru. The position of executive secretary was created during the BNP’s general conference last year in Mohale’s Hoek.
Mr Lesenya took up the position in an acting capacity since June this year after resigning as BNP youth league president for having exceeded the mandatory age limit of 36 years.
Mr Leuta said the “taking over” of his office’s responsibilities was part of a deliberate ploy to side-line him despite being the legitimate office bearer.
“I would like to point out that the establishment of the secretariat, as envisaged in the Mohale’s Hoek conference resolutions, was not to supplant the office of the SG, but was intended to assist and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of that office,” Mr Leuta said.
“There are indications that he (Mr Lesenya) considers himself senior to the deputy SG with the manner in which he conducts himself. He even structures documents (e.g. a recently issued circular No. 9) to suit his own interests.
“This kind of conduct should not be allowed. What is being done is a radical departure from what the conference had intended.”
Mr Leuta had since penned a letter dated August 31, which the Lesotho Times’ managed to obtain, registering his disquiet over Mr Lesenya’s appointment.
Titled “Impending Appointment of Executive Secretary”, the correspondence was addressed to, among others, BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, deputy leader Joang Molapo, chairperson Nthabiseng Makoae and spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe.
Part of the letter read: “I would like to make a few observations in regard to this matter before the party binds itself to this arrangement.
“For all intents and purposes, Mr Lesenya head-hunted himself, or he was clandestinely deployed to create a fait accompli situation that party structures would have difficulty dealing with.”
Mr Leuta went on to question Mr Lesenya’s credentials, stating that he did not qualify for the post but was a beneficiary of nepotism. He argued that “more deserving” candidates were overlooked.
“It is strange that a prospective appointee was detailed to design the terms of reference for the job he had ambitions for,” the SG charged. “The advertisement, which was eventually never published, was tailor made by him to suit him.”
He accused Mr Lesenya of collecting information from companies and parastatals “for the best trappings and benefits that would befit him in his new position”.
“How can we escape the accusation that the National Executive Committee (NEC) was dishing out a job to one of their own in disregard of all known tenets of fair play and transparency in recruitment?” Mr Leuta queried.
“When profiling available applications in the office, the anointed Mr Lesenya would probably be ranked last in terms of ability, experience, exposure, credibility and integrity.
“That could explain why he was spirited over others without any due process… In this case, nepotism may be suspected to have been at play. On these grounds alone, I do not understand why this party member was surreptitiously drafted into the hitherto unformalised position, and hastily so.”
The letter goes on to urge the party hierarchy to reconsider Mr Lesenya’s appointment, arguing that there was a “generally held view” by most in the rank and file of the BNP that Mr Lesenya “contributed to the decline of the BNPYL”.
“The anointed office bearer presided over the decline of the BNPYL, to the point where it was becoming dysfunctional. The youth league is a crucible in which future leaders are groomed,” Mr Leuta said.
“The present BNP leader (Chief ‘Maseribane) is of that mould and he has often lamented the poor state of the structure he gallantly led. Now, this illustrious structure (BNPYL) of the party is not even a shadow of its former self.”
He said if the appointment went ahead, “it should be clear” that Mr Lesenya would be under his and Ms Mapuru’s authority.
“He should not become some kind of subterranean ‘officer at large’ taking instructions from people other than through the chain of command in the administration of the office,” Mr Leuta said.
“I am putting this down for the record in order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding in the future.”
While Mr Leuta refused to divulge the names of Mr Lesenya’s backers in the NEC, a source at the BNP office told the Lesotho Times the SG believed Chief ‘Maseribane, Chief Molapo, Dr Makoae and Mr Mofomobe were behind efforts to undermine him.
Asked about how he relates with Chief ‘Maseribane, Mr Leuta admitted there was tension between the two, adding that “we are not as close as we are supposed to be”.
“As Chief ‘Maseribane’s SG, he and I are supposed to work closely but that is not the case. I suspect there are people out there who peddle lies about me, hence this tension between us,” said Mr Leuta.
“I have always thought that our relations were well, but I learnt that was not the case when my name was excluded from the party’s proportional representation list in January this year, because somebody did not want me to go to parliament.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Chief ‘Maseribane — who is currently in exile in South Africa — referred this paper to Chief Molapo.
In a text message response to questions posed by this paper, the BNP deputy leader said Mr Leuta had denied ever authoring a letter querying Mr Lesenya’s appointment.
“I have just asked Mr Leuta and he says he knows nothing about such a letter,” Chief Molapo said, despite the letter being in the Lesotho Times’ possession.
“I spoke to him about the executive secretary position and outlined our thinking on the matter. I made it clear that we are putting into operation a conference resolution and that we were not undermining his constitutional office.”
On his part, Mr Lesenya said while he did not want to speak ill of Mr Leuta because of his seniority in the party, “the attack borders on the personal”.
He said it defied logic that Mr Leuta’s had singled him out when he was just a member of the BNP, adding that “this party is bigger than any of us, he shouldn’t focus on me unless it’s personal”.
Mr Lesenya said the SG should complain to the BNP NEC if he had a problem with his appointment since “it was a collective decision made by the NEC and the working committee of the party”.
“Why is he complaining about my impending appointment when he was part of the forum that decided to appoint me?” queried Mr Lesenya.
“But then again, how can he even table his concerns in the party when he has not been to any meetings of the NEC and working committee.”
On his alleged incompetence, Mr Lesenya said the SG was “creating a mountain out of a molehill”, adding that “my credentials speak for themselves”.
“I have worked tirelessly for the BNP youth league and I am well versed in administration. I have two academic degrees and no one can dispute my contribution to the party,” he said.
Mr Lesenya said even though he had not yet been confirmed, Chief Molapo had instructed Mr Leuta to write a letter of appointment.
“Chief Molapo explicitly told him to write my appointment letter but he has not done it. I think it is about time he followed the instructions of his superiors,” Mr Lesenya said.
“He should not be a divisive factor in the BNP at this critical time. If the leader accepts my appointment, who is he to question that?”