Maphalla blames ABC for split

MASERU — Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) deputy leader, Sello Maphalla, has lashed out at the All Basotho Convention (ABC) for causing last week’s split in the alliance.

In an interview with the Lesotho Times on Tuesday, Maphalla also condemned the alleged assault of several party youths at an ABC rally in Mazenod on Sunday.

The youths had called on ABC leader Thomas Thabane to open discussions on the split with its alliance partner the LWP last Thursday.

The youths also wanted Thabane to remove party chairman, Molobeli Soulo, whom they accused of splitting the party.

The youths defiantly continued to sing party songs even when they had been directed to stop.

In an attempt to silence them, Thabane instructed his son, Potlako, who is often the party’s disc jockey at rallies to play CDs.

But the youths continued to defy the instructions.

Thabane’s bodyguards are alleged to have pounced on the defiant youths and assaulted them.

Maphalla condemned the weekend violence.

“Madness has struck the party,” an irate Maphalla said.

Maphalla accused the ABC leadership of avoiding discussing “pressing issues” with the LWP and “shutting their ears to the LWP’s calls for a formal and written alliance”.

He said they were shocked when the ABC leadership came up with “the embarrassing response to disband the informal alliance without first getting the mandate from party members”.

Thabane told the media at the weekend that the three-year marriage with the LWP was over after a stormy national executive meeting held last Thursday.

The ABC entered into an electoral pact with the LWP ahead of the 2007 general election.

But the alliance had been beset with problems resulting in the ABC terminating the marriage last week.

Thabane said the ABC had decided to terminate the alliance in line with recommendations made by Southern Africa Development Community envoy Ketumile Masire.

Masire last year condemned Lesotho’s electoral pacts saying they compromised the country’s electoral model.

Maphalla said the ABC had caused the split by “deliberately closing communication channels”.

“Thwarting freedom of speech is politically lethal especially when done against the youth,” he said.

“The ABC’s refusal to talk to the LWP and its own youths is a sign that there is a serious problem in the leadership.”

Maphalla did not attend the Mazenod rally.

He said he was busy with his constituency duties in Qacha’s Nek.

“I do not support violence at party rallies,” Maphalla said

“But I want to emphasise that what the ABC leadership is doing is uncalled for.”

“It is wrong for the ABC to avoid negotiations with its alliance partner and at the end want to wash dirty linen in public,” he said.

“I don’t understand why the ABC does not want to sit down with the LWP and discuss issues to do with the alliance,” he said.

“Now, when the party members want certain things to be addressed they get beaten up.”

He said Thabane and his executive committee would regret terminating the alliance.

Thabane, at a press conference yesterday, said LWP leader Macaefa Billy had denied the ABC leadership a chance to iron out their differences by walking out of their meeting.

Thabane said Billy had also walked out of meetings on several times.

“When we tried to address issues at meetings he would just walk out and leave us embarrassed,” Thabane said.

“We tried to humbly go to him on several times but without success,” he said.

“(But) when he walked out again (last Thursday) we said enough was enough.”

Billy has however dismissed Thabane’s allegations as misleading.

“Always when an issue about the LWP is discussed in the committee they ask me to excuse myself because it is the party I lead,” Billy said.

“They have set that precedence. So, yesterday when the issue involving my party came up I recused myself as usual.”

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