‘Maseribane fights for survival
…as BNP leader meets party supporters for crucial indaba ahead of elections
LADYBRAND-Exiled Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane was talking tough on Sunday as he met party supporters in Ladybrand amid reports of a plot to remove him from his post.
Chief ‘Maseribane fled Lesotho on 13 May 2015 and has since been living in South Africa. The BNP leader insists he had to seek refuge across the border after being reliably informed some Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members were allegedly planning to kill him. His opposition counterparts—All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leaders, Thomas Thabane and Keketso Rantšo, respectively—also fled the country the same month citing similar fears. The LDF has since denied these claims.
However, it has since emerged some BNP members want to remove Chief ‘Maseribane, his deputy Joang Molapo, chairperson Dr Nthabiseng Makoae and spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe during the party’s elective conference scheduled for 29 April to 1 May.
But in an effort to re-assert his authority, Chief ‘Maseribane called Sunday’s crisis meeting which was attended by constituency representatives and some members of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
Among the NEC members who did not attend were Mr Mofomobe, secretary general Lesojane Leuta, Gauteng Province representative Isaac Matlapeng, deputy secretary general Mariam Mapuru and northern region organiser Liteboho ‘Mota.
However, Mr Leuta had said he would not attend the meeting because he had been alerted of a plot to kill him once in South Africa.
Mr Leuta is said to be among the BNP members opposed to Chief ‘Maseribane’s leadership of the party, which he assumed in March 2011.
Speaking after Sunday’s meeting, Chief ‘Maseribane told the Lesotho Times that some NEC members and BNP parliamentarians had taken advantage of his exile and were creating factions and causing confusion in the party.
He promised stern action against such members before next week’s conference where a new NEC would be elected.
“I wouldn’t want to talk about names here because the people who are going to face disciplinary action know who they are.
“These people have been causing confusion in the party and that is why I called this meeting today to clear the air and talk about what is happening in the BNP. As their leader, I am not happy with how party issues are being dealt with. Every party has an oath of confidentiality and if the NEC agrees on certain issues, it becomes the responsibility of every member to obey such decisions and not go against them. Again, it has become the norm for party members to disgrace each other through the media, which should not be the case,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
“Then again, I wanted to thank Morena Joang and urge our supporters to respect him for the battles he has been fighting for the BNP since he was elected deputy leader in 2014.
“Morena Joang has been working tirelessly with our opposition allies (ABC and BNP) to highlight the country’s political and security instability before the international community with the hope of intervention to end these challenges.
“I am not campaigning for Morena Joang when the elections are held next week, but since there is speculation of a camp which wants to vote him out of office and afterwards, the same group passes a vote-of-no-confidence in me, I want BNP members to follow our constitution in whatever they do and don’t want them to get confused by people who don’t want the party to be united simply because they are power-hungry.”
Chief ‘Maseribane also reiterated his earlier statement that he would only return to Lesotho when the government has fired LDF Commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli.
“I remain firm about what I have been preaching all along that Lesotho has no peace and stability and that Kamoli is the country’s security threat.
“The Prime Minister (Pakalitha Mosisili) must implement SADC’s recommendations and remove Kamoli as army commander, release detained soldiers accused of mutiny and facilitate our safe return from exile,” he said.
“Without these conditions being met, I will remain here in exile because like I said, I would not feel safe in Lesotho knowing Kamoli is still the commander since he was the reason we fled the country in the first place.”
On his part, Chief Molapo said he was confident of outpolling his opponent, Limpho Tau of Teyateyaneng constituency, in the upcoming election.
“I have no reason not to be confident about winning the election because I have been loyal to the party and delivering on my mandate.
“I can’t overlook the fact that no one can be supported by everyone but I am confident of victory without badmouthing other people. In 2014, 80 percent of the people voted for me, which means 20 percent of them did not want me in that position but still, I believe I have done enough to convince our members that I can serve the party effectively,” Chief Molapo said.
Asked if he was aware some BNP supporters want him out for allegedly abusing party funds, Chief Molapo said he could account for every penny he used that belonged to the party.
“I am aware of such allegations, but I am not a thief and I am not afraid to be investigated. These people are just trying to impress their supporters by making such false allegations. They are double-faced liars who lie about everything. For instance, they have been lying that they did not know about the opposition agreement not to take National Assembly trips and sitting in parliamentary committees,” Chief Molapo said.
“As we speak, there are people who are claiming there is a plot to kill them hence they could not attend today’s meeting. This excuse is simply childish because why would we want to kill anybody? People who make such claims are just trying to cover-up their weaknesses because they can’t campaign basing themselves on performance and what they would do for the party.
“Again, I did not become active in BNP politics because I wanted financial gain from the party. I am also not the treasurer so I don’t have access to party funds.
“I have not stolen any money from the BNP; in fact, I have been contributing for the party’s functions so it is an insult for anyone to accuse me of stealing from the party.
“It is also an insult for anyone to say I am afraid of being removed from my position because the money I am supposed to have stolen would be exposed.”
Meanwhile, prior to Sunday’s meeting, Mr Leuta said his questioning of what happened to party funds had created him enemies.
“I felt it was misleading for executive members to declare that the party was broke to the media when they have failed to say what happened to the money,” he said.
“I believe I ruffled feathers when I doubted that the party was broke to the extent that it could not hold conferences.”
However, Mr Leuta said he never said the money had been stolen but that there was no clear financial report indicating what happened to the funds.
“For instance, a property agent who has been running the BNP Centre owes our party a lot of money,” he said.
“I can’t be specific about the amount, but it should be millions. There are also other party assets and it is not clear where all the money they generate is going.”
Mr Leuta also said he had since hired private security “given the real risk to my safety”, adding his family was also concerned about his safety.