MASERU — The Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) wants the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party to give up the proportional representation seats it secured in parliament after the two parties formed an alliance.
This comes after the ABC announced last month that it had ended its alliance with the labour-backed party.
As a result of the alliance, hastily cobbled up in 2007, the ABC got seven PR seats while the LWP got just three.
But the LWP says the initial agreement was that out of the available 10, the LWP would get six seats and the ABC would get four.
The LWP says if the ABC insists on ending the alliance then it must be prepared to relinquish those three extra seats it received.
The LWP claims that someone tinkered with the final list of candidates submitted to parliament resulting in the ABC getting three more seats than it was entitled to under the agreement.
The party said it did not raise the anomaly because it wanted the alliance to work but now that the marriage is over it’s time for the ABC to pay back.
The ABC already has 17 constituency seats while the LWP has none.
“If the ABC wants out (of the alliance) then it must give us back our seats,” said Sello Maphalla, the deputy leader of the LWP, in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.
It might however be almost impossible for the LWP to wrest those seats from the ABC.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) last night said the allocation of the compensatory seats cannot be changed.
IEC spokesperson Tuoe Hants’i said there is no way that the list that the ABC/LWP alliance submitted can be changed.
But Maphalla told this paper that his party might approach the courts if the ABC insists on clinging on to those seats.
That is likely to set in motion a bitter brawl between the former allies.
There are however doubts that the dispute might be resolved before the 2012 general election if it goes to court.
In the meantime the LWP says it is mobilising delegates to the ABC conference due in October to block the leadership’s decision to disband the alliance.
Maphalla told a press conference yesterday that the LWP is sure that the majority of ABC members do not support the decision.
In any case, Maphalla said, the decision to end the alliance is null and void because it was done by the executive committee and not the conference of the ABC.
He alleged that even the ABC executive committee did not unanimously agree on the decision but it was foisted on them by three people who had a vendetta against the LWP.
He said the three people who prevailed over the committee are ABC leader Tom Thabane, chairperson Molobeli Soulo and Thabo Thakalekoala who is the publicity secretary.
“The alliance we entered into with the ABC in 2007 is not a gentleman’s agreement although some people are working hard to undermine it,” Maphalla said.
“The agreement was so serious that it was even authenticated by parliament. We therefore refuse to recognise the ABC’s ill-informed decision to end the alliance.”
Maphalla said they had information that the ABC leadership was not going to include the alliance issue on the agenda of the conference but the LWP was prepared to fight for its inclusion.
It is only the conference, Maphalla said, that can approve the dissolution of the alliance.
“I am hoping against hope that the conference will uphold the alliance. If it decides that we should definitely go our separate ways it will be sore but we will accept that,” he said, adding that his party had already started lobbying. Speaking at the same press conference LWP leader Macaefa Billy said Thabane was imposing his decision on the ABC executive committee.
“My view is that the old man (Thabane) should be called to order before he brings more destruction into the ABC,” Billy said.
The problem, Billy said, was that political parties were idolising their party leaders and allowing their undemocratic behaviour to go unchecked.
“It should stop. People should love their political parties more than their leaders. Leaders should know that they are disposable and that the political organisations they lead come first.
“This is because they become corrupt when they are treated more like idols than leaders.”
When contacted for comment Thabane dismissed the LWP’s threats to reclaim the seats.
“In our last meeting they did not say anything about what you’re telling me. These threats they are making do not make sense, they have not communicated this to us,” Thabane said.
“The electoral alliance we entered into was not decided on by a conference but the executive committee. Hence the executive just might end it without a conference.”
“They also have no say on what should happen at our conference because ABC business has nothing to do with LWP and vice versa,” he said.