Mahao faction dismisses Thabane, Metsing talks  

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‘Marafaele Mohloboli

PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane cannot represent the All Basotho Convention (ABC) in talks with other political parties because he is currently on suspension and does not have the power to transact on behalf of the party, the Professor Nqosa Mahao faction of the ABC has declared.

The declaration comes in the wake of a meeting between Dr Thabane and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing on 11 September 2019.

The meeting between the two former arch foes seems to be part of spirited efforts by Dr Thabane to thwart a no confidence motion against him when parliament, currently on indefinite suspension, re-opens. If Dr Thabane manages to win Mr Metsing’s support and all 11 LCD MPs vote against the no confidence motion, the Prime Minister might just survive by a narrow margin of two votes. That is of course assuming that all the MPs backing Dr Thabane and all his coalition partners vote against the motion and all of Mr Metsing’s MPs comply.

ABC spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa told the Lesotho Times yesterday that Dr Thabane was currently on suspension and could not negotiate anything on behalf of the party.

LCD spokesman Teboho Sekata said Mr Metsing had used the talks with Dr Thabane to push for the LCD’s demands for the setting up of a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) to probe all alleged rights abuses and “heal the nation” , the establishment of a government of national unity (GNU) and the release of former army commander, Tlali Kamoli.

Mr Metsing returned to Lesotho last November, after a brief exile. He had fled the country in August 2017, citing a plot to kill him. The government, nevertheless rejected his claims, insisting that he had fled to avoid prosecution on several corruption allegations.

Mr Metsing was Dr Thabane’s deputy in their ill-fated 2012 – 2015 coalition arrangement which also included the Basotho National Party (BNP).  Mr Metsing walked out of the coalition, claiming he was being ignored by Dr Thabane in key decision making.

He then retained his position as deputy prime minister under former premier Pakalitha Mosisili, who won the right to form government, after the February 2015 elections.

That fallout had created bitter enmity between Dr Thabane and Mr Metsing and a meeting between them would have been almost unimaginable. However, pressures for their political survival seem to have made their meeting possible.

Mr Masoetsa however, insists that Dr Thabane has no locus standi to represent the ABC after his “suspension”at the party’s 7 September 2019 special conference. He also accused Mr Metsing of desperation for a TRC as a shield to escape prosecution for all his alleged crimes.

“Dr Thabane has been suspended from the party and therefore cannot make decisions without the involvement of the NEC, he could have met him (Mr Metsing) in his capacity as the Prime Minister but not on behalf of the ABC,” Mr Masoetsa said.

At the Saturday burial of the ABC’s Mokhethoaneng ward councilor, Mahlomola Rapholo in Berea, Mr Masoetsa had equally dismissed as an attempt to “escape justice” the claim by the LCD that a TRC was the only way the nation “could open up and truly heal”.

The 48-year-old Mr Rapholo, who had thrown in his lot with the Mahao camp, was last month shot several times by unknown gunmen as he drove alone in his car from his shop in the same Mokhethoaneng area.  The Mahao side sees it as a clear assassination but the police say it was a criminal act.

“It is sad that today the very people who took part in killing innocent civilians are calling for the establishment of a TRC to stop justice from taking its course,” Mr Masoetsa said on Saturday.

“A TRC is only needed where there has been a civil war and Lesotho has never been to war at all. We are not going to agree to that, everyone should toe the line and let justice take its course.”

He said that the faction had heard that Mr Metsing and Dr Thabane have agreed on setting up a TRC but vowed to fight any such process.

He vowed his side was not “going to give people a hole through which to escape justice”. He said Lesotho was a democratic country and that everyone should be brought before the courts of law and stand trial irrespective of their status.

Meanwhile, speaking at the same occasion, “acting ABC leader” Prof Mahao appealed to party followers to bury the hatchet and put aside their differences for the unification of the party. He also extended the olive branch to finance minister Moeketsi Majoro, who has stood firm behind Dr Thabane in the fight for the control of the ABC. Dr Thabane has appointed Dr Majoro as his deputy in place of Prof Mahao who was elected at the party’s elective conference in February 2019. The High Court has nonetheless interdicted this and other appointments by Dr Thabane.

“I appeal to you ABC members not to allow anyone divide our party. Stay firm on the truth and remain unshaken. Stop calling each other names and remember that we are all ABC members. Dr Majoro, we can form a formidable team and together work for this party to better the lives of this poverty-stricken nation.

“Let’s not agree to be divided by people who have their personal vendettas. Let’s stop calling each other names and remember that this party is the only one which can change this country if it adheres to its manifesto,” Prof Mahao said.

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