THE outspoken former chairperson of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Motlohi Maliehe this week launched a blistering attack on the newly elected deputy leader of the ABC, Professor Nqosa Mahao, saying the National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor only joined the party to destabilise it by working against the party leader, Thomas Thabane.
Mr Maliehe who contested and lost the ABC’s 1 and 2 February 2019 national executive committee (NEC) elections to Prof Mahao, described his nemesis as a rebel who had only brought discord to the party by unnecessarily dragging it to the courts and to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure he got his way in the ABC.
He said this while addressing a weekend rally in the Likhoele constituency in Mafeteng. The rally was attended by Dr Thabane and at least 26 ABC legislators, most of them cabinet ministers who are said to be aligned to the outgoing ABC’s NEC which Mr Maliehe is part of. The old and new NECs have been locked in a bitter struggle for the control of the party.
The two sides failed to reach an out-of-court settlement and the matter is back in the courts after three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) filed an application seeking the nullification of the results of the party’s February elective conference.
Instead of negotiating, the old and new NECs have been holding competing countrywide rallies in a battle for the hearts of ABC supporters. On Sunday Prof Mahao and his loyalists held their own rally in the the Berea 27 constituency at the same time that the old NEC was holding its own rally in Mafeteng. Dr Thabane’s attendance at the Mafeteng rally suggests that the premier has thrown his weight behind those opposed to Prof Mahao’s ascendancy despite his initial statements to the effect that he welcomed the election of Prof Mahao as the “expression of the democratic will of the majority of ABC members”.
And on Sunday, Mr Maliehe tore into Prof Mahao, describing him as unknown politician who was bent on undermining Dr Thabane and destabilising the ABC.
He also accused the Court of Appeal of favouring Prof Mahao through its 1 February 2019 judgement which quashed Prof Mahao’s disqualification and enabled him to contest in the NEC elections.
“Kobotata (the ABC) was registered on 9 October 2006 by 17 Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) members of parliament who included Thabane for the sole reason that the LCD had failed to develop Lesotho in all the years that it ruled the country,” Mr Maliehe said, adding, “therefore we left the LCD to form the ABC”.
“There has never or will never be a party like Kobotata. It was established for every Mosotho, not just the elite nor the educated. We will not rest until we have won all the 80 constituencies in the elections. Our mandate has always been the delivery of services to the people.
“Even if you are from another party, leave your nonsense behind and join Kobotata with a sober mind so that we can be a team. We have one leader (Dr Thabane) and he was not even challenged during the elective conference.
“And whenever he is holding a rally, all members are expected to attend and not for anyone to hold another rally elsewhere in the name of Kobotata. It is clear that there is someone (Prof Mahao) who has brought nonsense from wherever he comes from and brought it into Kobotata. “We all have to be where the leader is unless we are rebels. Kobotata is not Motlohi Maliehe or Thabane but a party for all.
“We vowed to adhere to the constitution of Kobotata. The ABC is in court because of a person (Prof Mahao) who we don’t know where he is coming from and yet he is going against the constitution of the party.
“Even the courts are favouring him by judging in his favour, making decisions that are against the rules that govern the ABC. That person who I do not want to mention by name has already appealed to SADC (about the infighting in the ABC). We have one leader according to the constitution of ABC. Those people (at the Berea rally) are not members of ABC but leopards luring people into the forest to devour them,” Mr Maliehe said.
His sentiments were echoed by the ABC Youth League President, Tšoloane Maphasa, who accused Prof Mahao and ABC activist Thato Ponya of destabilising the ABC.
“Just yesterday we saw a fake letter circulating on social media about this rally being cancelled and we all know who was responsible for that,” Mr Maphasa said in reference to Mr Phonya who is very vocal on social media.
“Our dear leader (Thabane), please protect us against those bogus members who include Thato Ponya who has made himself a trouble maker yet he has only been part of ABC for a short time.
“Last week a youth from Mafeteng was shot by a security officer during the Inter-varsity Games at the NUL but we have not heard from NUL disputing that incident. That is because the Vice Chancellor, Prof Mahao, is not there but busy fighting political battles instead of attending NUL activities. He should choose whether he wants to be a politician or vice chancellor.
“As if that was not enough, he (Prof Mahao) took ABC issues to SADC and what he does not know is that ABC problems will be solved by its members, not anyone else. As the youth, we are fully behind you (Dr Thabane) and you are destined to be the leader of ABC forever and not anybody else who turns people against you,” Mr Maphasa said.
Meanwhile Mr Maliehe repeated his attacks on Prof Mahao in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
(See Big Interview and Story on page 16)