Mahao rejects ambassadorial post

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Pascalinah Kabi

EMBATTLED All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane offered to deploy his estranged party deputy, Nqosa Mahao, as ambassador to Belgium as part of efforts to resolve the long-running power struggle in the ABC, party officials aligned to Professor Mahao have said.

But Prof Mahao rejected the offer, seeing it as a clear act of brinkmanship by his political nemesis to nuetralise him from the political scene and enable Dr Thabane to regain full control of the party.

The Mahao faction spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, yesterday said the offer was made during three meetings held by the feuding parties last month.

He said the meetings were held on 8, 14 and 15 October 2019 at the State House and at the prime minister’s offices in Maseru.

Dr Thabane also offered to deploy other Mahao loyalists including the fired ministers ’Matebatso Doti (former Social Development Minister) and Lebohang Hlaele (Law Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights) to other unspecified government posts.

Mr Masoetsa said the offers were however rejected by the Mahao camp because they viewed them as an attempt to “demote” Prof Mahao from his post as “deputy leader of the governing party to a mere civil servant position in which he will be answerable to a principal secretary”.

“There was such an offer (for Mahao) but it was flatly rejected during the three meetings which were held at Makhoakhoeng (Dr Thabane’s home in Ha Abia) and State House,” Mr Masoetsa said.

Dr Thabane, First Lady Maesaiah Thabane, Mr Hlaele, Ms Doti, ABC deputy secretary general Nkaku Kabi and deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s office Leshoboro Mohlajoa attended the first meeting at Makhoakhoeng. Another meeting was held at the same venue with the same people attending except for Mr Mohlajoa.

Mr Masoetsa said the purpose of the meetings was to find solutions to the power struggle pitting Dr Thabane against Prof Mahao and ensure that the warring factions reconcile and work together for the good of the party and government.

“We were called to Makhoakhoeng twice in October and it was agreed at the second meeting that we should meet at State House to draw up a concept paper that we would use as a guiding tool towards reconciling the party. It was even agreed that a press conference would be called afterwards to inform the nation about the developments but things did not work out as we had hoped,” Mr Masoetsa said.

He said that the State House faction made it clear from the beginning that they could only work with the Mahao faction on condition that Prof Mahao was posted abroad to a diplomatic mission. He said that the Mahao faction immediately rejected the offer as they saw it as a divide and rule strategy.

“There was a disagreement on this issue. They also promised to deploy us to different positions but Hlaele and Doti made it clear that we (Mahao faction) should be the ones putting conditions on the table given the persecutions we have endured after winning the (ABC national executive committee) elections (in February 2019) and supporting Mahao.

“Hlaele and Doti reminded them that they were fired from their ministerial posts while I was fired from the Letšeng board of directors. They stressed that we should find a way of achieving peace but not by deploying Mahao as an ambassador,” Mr Masoetsa said.

Mr Masoetsa alleged that Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka met Prof Mahao yesterday to formally inform the latter of the government’s decision to send him to Brussels.

He said the offer was made after Mr Mohlajoa incorrectly informed Dr Thabane that Prof Mahao had agreed to take up the government’s offer for an ambassadorial post. Prof Mahao had never accepted the offer.

“Two weeks ago, Magents (Mohlajoa) went to Mahao’s house and told him that we must all work together to unite the ABC. For that to happen, Magents said government was ready to appoint Mahao as an ambassador in Brussels.

“Mahao however, told him that he was not interested in any job offer or money and his priorities were to ensure that the elected national executive committee takes control of the party. He (Mahao) also told him (Mohlajoa) that he could not leave the country but wanted to stay and serve the ABC as per the mandate he got at the elective conference,” Mr Masoetsa said.

He accused Mr Mohlajoa of going back to the premier and lying that Prof Mahao had accepted the job offer. Based on that misinformation, Dr Thabane had instructed Mr Mphaka to begin the processes of appointing Prof Mahao as an ambassador.

He said Mr Mphaka called Prof Mahao to a meeting at the government complex yesterday and it was only then that the latter discovered that the meeting was about the job offer to Brussels.

“Mphaka told him (Prof Mahao) that he had had been instructed by the prime minister to immediately start the process of appointing him as an ambassador to Brussels. Mahao told Mphaka straight to his face that he never agreed to that proposition and the premier was acting on false information from people around him,” Mr Masoetsa said.

Mr Mohlajoa was not reachable on his mobile phone for comment yesterday. Mr Mphaka confirmed meeting Prof Mahao yesterday but said it was to “discuss our own issues, not issues about embassies”.

On his part, Mr Kabi denied that they ever held the three meetings with Mahao camp and instead accused Mr Masoetsa of hallucinating.

“My comment is that he (Mr Masoetsa) is full of hallucinations of the highest order. I have never met with that faction,” Mr Kabi said.

However, authoritative sources from both factions confirmed the meetings took place. The sources said although there had been a lot of bad blood between the two factions and all previous meetings to resolve the factional feuds had failed, Dr Thabane’s side had nonetheless asked for the latest meetings as part of efforts to stave off a looming no confidence vote against the premier.

The Mahao camp has already filed the motion in parliament and it awaits formal tabling before it can be voted upon.

 

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