Majoro, Kabi bury hatchet

0
  • but obstacles remain in their efforts to reunite the ABC

’Marafaele Mohloboli/ Mohlomi Tšoloane

PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro and his All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s leader, Nkaku Kabi, appear to have finally buried the hatchet.

This after several months of a vicious power struggle which had threatened to severely scupper the ABC’s performance in elections due in October this year.

Mr Kabi broke the news of their reconciliation while addressing thousands of ABC supporters this week in Hlotse, Leribe. He said as a demonstration of their newly-minted unity, the erstwhile foes will be addressing joint rallies, with the first of these slated for Koro-Koro this weekend. Incidentally, Koro-Koro is the stronghold of former ABC deputy leader and current opposition Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader, Nqosa Mahao.

Despite Mr Kabi’s remarks, obstacles still remain in the path of reuniting the ABC as some key party officials – like spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa- continue to pour scorn on the unity efforts.

Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, would neither confirm nor deny that the premier and Dr Majoro had indeed reconciled as per Mr Kabi’s claims. However, some ABC sources close to the two ABC bigwigs confirmed the ABC leader’s claim that the two had indeed agreed to smoke the peace pipe ahead of the make-or-break elections. The two have been meeting privately to try and buttress their unity efforts.

Having served as prime minister since replacing former ABC leader, Thomas Thabane, in May 2020, Dr Majoro does not have much to lose even if his party is defeated at the forthcoming polls.  He now qualifies for his comfortable pension. Even if the ABC were to retain power in October, he cannot become prime minister ahead of Mr Kabi as parties generally nominate their leaders for appointment to that post by King Letsie III. But maintaining good relations with Mr Kabi might guarantee him an influential role in state affairs if the ABC does well in the elections and Mr Kabi becomes prime minister.

Mr Kabi is nonetheless the one with the most to lose.  An electoral defeat for a fractious ABC would extinguish his cherished dream of becoming prime minister.  Working closely with Dr Majoro will on the other hand enable him access to state resources for campaigning.

Addressing party supporters on their reconciliation this week, Mr Kabi said, “I sat down with Dr Majoro and we discussed issues of mutual consent”.

“We came to the conclusion that we had conflicting ideologies in the past and were no longer seeing eye to eye. However, we decided to set aside our differences for the greater good. We both have a mandate to advance the lives of Basotho through peace and not war.

“We decided to hold hands and formulate a peace strategy. I can state it to you that in the coming week, Dr Majoro and I will be attending an ABC rally at Koro-Koro. As per our agreement, I urge him (Majoro) to prepare in good time so that the public can see us walking together and see that the ABC is now united,” Mr Kabi said.

Mr Kabi and Dr Majoro had gone to war after the prime minister refused to relinquish his position after losing the party’s leadership contest to Mr Kabi in January.  The ABC leader subsequently supported a parliamentary vote of no confidence against Dr Majoro but the prime minister prevailed.  Dr Majoro had vowed to remain in power until the elections though he quit the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC).

Even before the Majoro-Kabi war, the ABC was already on the back foot due to incessant infighting, which began three years ago when former leader Thabane rejected the February 2019 election of his former deputy, Prof Mahao. The subsequent infighting allowed the DC which had only recovered from its own debilitating internal squabbles, to gain ground on its main partner in the current coalition government.

As if the DC recovery under Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu (who took the mantle from founding leader Pakalitha Mosisili in February 2019) was not enough, prominent businessman Sam Matekane then formed his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party in March this year.

In the first two months of its formation, the fledgling RFP managed to lure prominent politicians like former cabinet ministers Mahali Phamotse, Tlohelang Aumane, Leketekete Khetso and former deputy minister ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli. All these joined from the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD). Their arrival added to the RFP’s already stellar cast of personalities including former Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) governor, Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane; former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and prominent Moshoeshoe Walk organiser, Thabo Maretlane.

Former Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) head of investment promotion, Mokhethi Shelile, prominent businessman Lephema Lebona and former Accountant General Sam Mphaka, former DC stalwart Tlohang Sekhamane, had joined the RFP at its inception.

Faced with this existential threat, Mr Kabi and Dr Majoro had then agreed to talk peace and try and unite ahead of the elections.

Mr Kabi engaged Dr Majoro through intermediaries.

The Kabi faction to the talks which got underway in April 2022 was led by Thaba-Phatšoa legislator, Mahala Molapo, and former secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele.

The Majoro faction had appointed Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation Minister, Motlohi Maliehe, and the party’s Likhetlane constituency legislator, Lekhetho Mosito, to represent it.

Those initiatives appeared to not have bore any fruit. Efforts to reunite the two were subsequently escalated to the church.

Last month, Mr Kabi and Dr Majoro met face to face at the premier’s official State House residence in Maseru under the mediation of Bishop David Thakadu Ramela of the St Paul African Apostolic Church.

The Lesotho Times even saw a leaked picture of Dr Majoro and Mr Kabi sitting next to each other and holding a stick under the watchful eye of Bishop Ramela. According to sources close to both politicians, they were made to hold the stick by the Bishop and recite a pledge to work together to iron out their differences.

Bishop Ramela subsequently confirmed to this publication that he had mediated between the two at State House.

“It’s true that I mediated between the two leaders. We met at State House and the atmosphere was cordial as both parties were very welcoming and open for frank discussions. I begged them to swallow their pride, forget about their egos and move forward together for the sake of Basotho.

“I offered to meet them because they both confide in me. I therefore felt there was need for me to do something about it because my role as a Bishop is to be an instrument of peace. It was not a difficult task because I am always there for them, giving advice whenever they face difficulties.

“I had been talking to them separately and asking that they meet but for some weird reason, it seemed they were avoiding each other. Hence I took it upon myself to make sure they meet. Both Ntate Majoro and Ntate Kabi honoured me by agreeing to meet. They agreed to cast aside their differences and work towards the reunification of their party. All I can say is that they both have the interests of the party at heart but they have allowed the enemy to infiltrate them. I am hopeful that they are both going to do what’s best for the party and Basotho in general because they are mandated to serve the nation,” Bishop Ramela said at the time.

It now appears the two erstwhile foes have finally buried the hatchet and now acknowledge they must work together lest their ABC slide into permanent oblivion.

They nonetheless still have their work cut out in reconciling their followers. Some continue with a hard line stance against any reunification efforts.

This after ABC spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, yesterday said the ABC NEC would not be rushed into ratifying the two bigwigs’ agreement as they were still in the dark as to what had actually transpired in the talks.

“We know that they have been holding peace talks but to date, Mr Kabi has never cared to give us a progress report on how far they have gone and what they have agreed on,” Mr Masoetsa said in an interview.

“The announcement was premature and it is nothing to go by since there are still some unresolved issues within the party. We still have two factions of legislators in parliament. We have those who are still on the government side (backing Majoro) and those on the cross bench (backing Kabi). Until this issue has been resolved, we are not able to bless Mr Kabi’s agreement with Majoro.

“Moreso, we as the NEC, are not in the loop regarding what the two have been discussing about the future of the party. It is therefore misleading to say that they have buried the hatchet and (for Kabi) to make such a big announcement. By the time he (Kabi) called for meetings with the other faction, we had already accepted that there was never going to be any reconciliation because we had tried but failed to talk sense into the other side.

“When Mr Kabi told us of his intentions to hold talks with Dr Majoro, we gave him the green light but we also informed him that whatever they agree would not affect our scheduled programmes.

“We still have our fears and we cannot just accept what we have heard (Majoro-Kabi reconciliation). We need assurances and we need to know exactly where we are headed as a party. That will only be known when the NEC has met both ABC parliamentary factions. Only then will we be able to make a joint statement to endorse the (reconciliation) agreement,” Mr Masoetsa said.

If Mr Masoetsa remarks are reflective of a majority in the NEC, then it means despite Messrs Kabi and Majoro burying the hatchet, uniting the top echelons of their party and their shop floor followers might remain a tall order.

 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.