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Maliehe in trouble  

by Lesotho Times
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…faces disciplinary action over attacks on the First Lady 

Pascalinah Kabi

THE ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) will soon haul its outspoken chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, before a disciplinary committee over his public attack on the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane at a rally in his Butha-Buthe constituency in May this year.

Mr Maliehe, who also serves Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, was informed of the party’s decision to have him appear before the ABC’s disciplinary committee in a letter that was written by the party’s Secretary General, Samonyane Ntsekele.

The letter does not however, say when and where the disciplinary hearing will be conducted.

The letter, which was seen by this publication, states that “in its sitting of 8 June 2018, the ABC National Executive Committee discussed issues contained in your letter dated 29 May 2018 in response to the letter given to you by committee, requesting you to show cause why the committee cannot suspend you as the party chairperson based on what you said at the 6 May 2018 rally at Hololo Constituency”.

“After discussing the reasons that you put forward to argue why an action cannot be taken against you, the NEC made a decision that issues surrounding the matter against you must now be dealt with by the party’s disciplinary committee,” Mr Ntsekele’s letter to Mr Maliehe further states.

Mr Maliehe grabbed the headlines in May this year when he launched a blistering attack on Ms Thabane while addressing a rally in his Butha-Buthe constituency.

Mr Maliehe said Ms Thabane was fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.

The ABC chairperson accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.

His utterances provoked an immediate response from ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who was quoted in some sections of the media as having said that Mr Maliehe should pack his bags and leave his party and government positions.

However, Dr Thabane appeared to backtrack on the removal of Mr Maliehe a week after the latter’s Butha-Buthe rally. Dr Thabane adopted a more conciliatory tone when he told a Mafeteng rally that the ABC would instead work to rectify its internal problems including the infighting and vowed that they would not allow the intense bickering to derail the government and prevent it from lasting its full five-year term.

Mr Ntsekele subsequently told this publication in an interview that the party would pursue a conciliatory rather than disciplinary approach to the infighting within the party.

He said at the time that conflict was a “normal and natural occurrence” and “real democracy is about resolving conflicts constructively, listening to others…and reconciling for development”.

Mr Ntsekele was not reachable to explain why the ABC has now chosen to pursue a disciplinary approach after having suggested that the party would work to reconcile its members.

However, Mr Maliehe yesterday confirmed receipt of the letter informing him of the impending disciplinary hearing.

He however, expressed surprise and concern that the letter had been leaked to this publication.

“Where did you get the letter?” Mr Maliehe first asked, adding, “I am surprised that you have even been given that letter already”.

“I can confirm that I received such a letter and that is the only thing I am prepared to say at this stage,” Mr Maliehe said.

The notice of the disciplinary action against Mr Maliehe comes two months after he was served with a letter requesting him to explain his public attack on Ms Thabane.

At the time, Mr Ntsekele refused to give details of a letter written to Mr Maliehe “due to the sensitivity of the matter”.

Mr Ntsekele however, said the letter was in line with the party’s constitutional processes that require a party member or official to explain himself whenever they are believed to have crossed the line.

“We are not fighting the party chairman. Neither are we saying this process is aimed at firing him from cabinet or suspending him from the party. This is an internal process we cannot overlook because something happened that requires certain actions to be taken,” Mr Ntsekele said.

In his May 2018 attack on Ms Thabane, Mr Maliehe accused the First Lady of fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and government officials.

“One wonders what business the First Lady has in politics. The other time she said she would reprimand any minister who was not performing. What is she and who does she think she is? Where does she get the powers to reprimand any minister,” a fuming Mr Maliehe said.

The fire-spitting Mr Maliehe said he had decided to speak out regardless of the consequences to himself.  He said he did not care if his utterances would land him in trouble. His interest was in safeguarding the founding values of the party he said he had helped form.

It was on the basis of his utterances that the ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane allegedly said that Mr Maliehe should “pack his bags” and leave his party and government positions as he had fired himself with his unprecedented utterances.

However, all had seemed on course for a thawing of relations within the ABC after Dr Thabane addressed a rally in May in Mafeteng after Mr Maliehe’s Butha-Buthe rally. Dr Thabane conceded that there was infighting in the ABC and issued an impassioned plea for unity.

Dr Thabane also lauded all those who had openly voiced their dissatisfaction, saying this proved that the ABC was a platform for healthy debates.

He acknowledged his own mistakes and said he too was not immune to censure as evidenced by the criticism he said had been directed at him by party supporters in his Ha Abia constituency.

He admitted that his government had fallen short when it came to service delivery, adding that the government’s deficiencies were exacerbated by the infighting within the ABC. He said that there was therefore a need for self-examination to regain the trust of the nation.

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