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‘Maseribane bows out

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  • says he has no intention of clinging onto BNP leadership beyond June

Mohalenyane Phakela

BASOTHO National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, says contrary to claims by some party members he has no intention of clinging to the BNP leadership beyond his second and final term which expires in June 2021.

He will thus be stepping down and handing over to a new leader when his term expires then.

Chief Maseribane states this in his papers filed in opposition to BNP leadership hopeful, ‘Mota Nkuoatsana, and others’ High Court application for him to step down immediately.

He argues that contrary to the applicants’ claims he was elected for his second term as BNP leader on 12 June 2016.  There was therefore no way his term could have expired in March 2021 as alleged by Mr Nkuoatsana and his co-applicants.

Mr Nkuoatsana and six others filed a 25 March 2021 application for the removal of Chief ‘Maseribane who is also Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing minister. They also want BNP deputy leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, to hold fort until a new leader is elected.

His co-applicants are prominent BNP members Moorosi Moshoeshoe, Emmanuel ‘Mako, Lesiamo Molapo, Mochai Mochai, Matobo Mabathoana and Michael Mohasi.

The BNP, BNP national executive committee (NEC), Chief Maseribane and Mr Mofomobe are the first to fourth respondents respectively in the application.

They accuse Chief ‘Maseribane and his fellow respondents of “intending to breach the constitution of the BNP in that they want to extend the term in office of the leader of BNP beyond the prescribed maximum period of 10 years for which a person can be a leader of BNP”.

The seven had asked that their application be treated with urgency, alleging that there would be “war and anarchy” within the BNP if Chief ‘Maseribane is not removed from the BNP leadership with immediate effect.

However, the matter failed to take off on 1 April 2021 after Chief ‘Maseribane indicated that he intended to oppose the application. He subsequently filed his opposing papers on 16 April 2021.

In his opposing papers, Chief ‘Maseribane explains that he has no intentions of violating the BNP constitution and he will therefore step down when his tenure ends in June this year.

“The BNP is united and as the outgoing leader thereof, my determination is to leave a legacy of unity within the BNP,” Chief ‘Maseribane states in his court papers.

“I have been respected by members of the BNP to be their leader for two consecutive terms. The party followed democratic principles. This was according to the constitution of our party and I consider it convenient to begin an admission that the constitution of our party does not provide for a leader running for a third term. I have no intentions to violate the constitution of the party and taint my integrity by running for elections again in violation of the constitution which I protected and upheld for over four decades of my active politics in the BNP.

“The picture painted in the whole application suggests that my term of office as the leader of the BNP expired on 26 March 2021. This suggestion was deliberate and contrived to mislead the members of the BNP.

“My tenure in office is coming to an end in June 2021 because I was voted into the leadership position in June 2016. The conclusions of applicants that my term ended in March 2021 are patently speculative and reveal a number of misdirections on their part.”

Chief Maseribane further argues that he understands and abides by the BNP constitution. He said the party was anxious to hold the elective conference in June when his tenure expires. Accordingly, preparations for the elections were at an advanced stage, he argues.

“This present case (by the seven applicants) characterises an embodiment of subtlety and sophistry aimed at attacking the management of the BNP. The party members have acquiesced to the date (of the elective conference) because they understand the constitution (of BNP) and they have vouched to attend the conference.

“The BNP has a track record of members who understand their constitution and this has earned it almost iconic status in the politics of Lesotho.  Certainly, in terms of the constitution (of BNP), the NEC has furnished substantive reasons for the position they have adopted to hold elections in June 2021.

“The complaints of applicants, which are more conjecture than fact-based, do not allege bias nor unfairness and procedural irregularity is not part of the reliefs sought…

“The preparations are at an advanced stage for the holding of the elective conference and whatever complaints may exist will be addressed at the conference according to the constitution. The BNP is regulated by its constitution and not by the courts of law. It is very critical to the administration of the party that the applicants be called to order because this present dispute may cause the postponement of the elective conference,” Chief ‘Maseribane states in his papers.

Contrary to Chief ‘Maseribane’s assertions, Mr Nkuoatsana and his co-applicants argue that Chief ‘Maseribane became the BNP leader on 27 March 2011.

They state that in terms of section 11(8) (c) of the BNP constitution, a leader can only hold office for a maximum of 10 years.

They argue that Chief ‘Maseribane’s term expired on 27 March 2021 which is 10 years to the date when he first assumed the reins. They further argue that the BNP should have elected a new leader last December and Chief ‘Maseribane should have formally handed over to the new leader when his term expired on 27 March 2021.

They are challenging the NEC’s 10 March 2021 circular which states that Chief ‘Maseribane’s tenure only ends on 13 June 2021.

They accuse Chief ‘Maseribane and his fellow respondents of “intending to breach the constitution of the BNP in that they want to extend the term in office of the leader of BNP beyond the prescribed maximum period of 10 years for which a person can be a leader of BNP”.

Chief ‘Maseribane’s decision to bow out opens the way for the party which ruled the country from independence in 1966 until 1986 to elect a new leader.

Six candidates including Chief Maseribane’s current second in command, Machesetsa Mofomobe, have already signalled their intention to fight it out for the top post.

Other leadership hopefuls are Mr Nkuoatsana, Professor Lehlohonolo Mosotho, Lesojane Leuta, ‘Mamotsepe Motseoa and Machere Seutloali.

 

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