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Mahao digs in on ABC talks

by Lesotho Times

Moorosi Tsiane/ Mohalenyane Phakela

ALL Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane and his incoming deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, will continue their talks to find a solution to the infighting which threatens to split the ruling party and bring down the government.

Prof Mahao told supporters at a rally in Mohale’s Hoek on Sunday that he had met  with Dr Thabane that same morning and implored him to ensure that the party’s new national executive committee (NEC) should be allowed into office.

The old and new ABC’s NECs have been at war ever since the party’s 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference. The old NEC, which reportedly enjoys Dr Thabane’s support, has refused to make way for the new NEC which has Prof Mahao as the deputy leader. Three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung constituency), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) have also filed a High Court application seeking the nullification of the February party polls on the grounds that they were marred by vote rigging.

Prof Mahao’s Sunday message suggested that the new NEC would not budge in its demands to be unconditionally allowed into office.

“This morning (Sunday) before I come here I met Ntate Thabane and I had only one message which was my simple plea that we should respect the ABC members’ decision and also work on ensuring democracy.

“The committee that was elected by ABC members should be allowed into office and he agreed with that. We also agreed that the negotiations should continue. I am asking you as my supporters to also support our leader (Dr Thabane) and make sure that this party doesn’t collapse so that when we go for next elections we come back with more numbers than we got in last elections.

“There are plans by some people to tear this party apart by refusing to allow the elected committee to access the office and I want to warn you that should this party collapse due to this nonsense of these people who don’t want to hand over power, we will go back to the congress regime.

“We will go back to the reign of congress parties which ill-treated Basotho for a long time, killing them and dumping their bodies in dams. Some of you will run away into exile. Our only solution is by standing together as the ABC and not allowing those hypocrites back into power. Let us be an example and show this nation that we are indeed the party which was formed to take them out of misery, starvation, merciless killings and high unemployment,” Prof Mahao said.

On his part, Mr Montoeli Masoetsa, who was elected ABC spokesperson at the party’s hotly disputed February 2019 elective conference, yesterday said Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao met on Sunday but they were still to agree on a deal to end the power struggle between the old and new NECs.

Mr Masoetsa this week told the Lesotho Times that Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao met on Sunday and they would soon meet again as they continue with efforts to reach a deal to end the impasse.

“Ntate Thabane met Prof Mahao on Sunday but so far there is nothing tangible that can be shared with the public because the talks are still at the primary stage,” Mr Masoetsa said.

“I can assure the nation that the two leaders agreed to meet again soon although they have not yet set a date for the next meeting. All will be revealed in due course.”

In addition to the court battles, the two factions have also taken their war to party supporters, holding competing rallies on a weekly basis to argue their cases.

Last month the two factions failed to reach an out-of-court agreement to end the in-fighting. But the recent meetings between Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao have renewed hope that the factions could resolve their differences after all.

Last week, Mr Masoetsa revealed that Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao held their first meeting at the State House on 9 April 2019.

“That meeting resolved that the negotiations should start immediately to end this misunderstanding and the leader assigned (outgoing secretary general Samonyane) Ntsekele to make sure that this attempt succeeds. Ntsekele met with Prof Mahao to come up with the work plan. Until there has been an agreement between the leader (Dr Thabane) and the deputy (Prof Mahao), the parallel rallies will continue,” Mr Masoetsa said last week.

Even as the two parties negotiate, the parallel rallies will continue.

“There has not been an agreement and therefore the parallel rallies will continue as if nothing has happened. We (the Pro-Mahao faction) will be in Mokhotlong on the 28th (this month),” Mr Masoetsa said this week.

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