MASERU — Basotho National Party (BNP) veteran Majara Molapo has vowed to continue with his court case challenging the legitimacy of the newly-appointed executive committee if proposed negotiations fail.
But the talks to heal a debilitating rift between BNP factions appear to be hanging by a thread even before a date had been set for round-table discussions.
According to Molapo, a key figure in the infighting, both parties’ arrogance is the biggest threat.
His nemesis Thesele ’Maseribane says it is Molapo’s insincerity that is threatening progress.
Molapo is challenging the legitimacy of the BNP national executive led by ’Maseribane at the High Court.
The matter has been set for Monday but both ’Maseribane and Molapo have agreed on a postponement to allow for negotiations.
Yet, that is all they appear to agree on, judging by the statements.
“I’m an arrogant person,” Molapo said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week. “But so are members of the BNP executive committee,” he adds.
“The best we can do is put our arrogance aside and make do with the opportunity we have to talk. If we are to talk, we have to be genuine about it by opening up our heart to each other.”
The talks Molapo refers to have been suggested by the High Court after the firebrand veteran politician filed an application to declare null and void a conference that elected ’Maseribane as substantive president of the party last month.
The party had been without a substantive leader since the ouster of Metsing Lekhanya last December.
If the talks fail Molapo’s court challenge threatens to take the former giant party back into a leadership vacuum.
His major gripe is with ’Maseribane and secretary general Ranthomeng Matete, whom he said shouldn’t have contested for the BNP presidency while still holding posts in the executive committee that organised the conference.
Molapo alleged in his affidavit that delegates who took part in the elections were derived from constituency committees elected clandestinely at the instruction of the executive committee, thus prejudicing other candidates like him vying for the BNP post.
“When the court advised that we go for negotiations, it echoed my exact sentiments. By then I had already exhausted all the internal remedies available to me to no avail,” Molapo said.
Short and stout, Molapo speaks with a croaky voice.
He said BNP leaders took him for granted because “I don’t possess enough financial muscle”.
While accusing ’Maseribane’s executive of taking its time to set up a meeting, Molapo says he will not oppose the request to push the court case further than Monday.
“I was initially infuriated by the suggestion. But we have agreed upon the postponement and are yet to seek the court’s permission,” Molapo said.
He is, however, quick to point out that if the negotiations fail “the court case continues”.
“There’s a lot at stake here. The BNP is a highly respected party. The future destiny of this country and its politics will to an extent depend on the outcome of this case,” Molapo said.
In a separate interview with the Lesotho Times, ’Maseribane expressed scepticism on the success of the proposed talks “because Molapo has taken it upon himself to humiliate us publicly”.
“I’m open to talks,” ’Maseribane said. “But I wonder what kind of talks they are going to be considering the fact that he (Molapo) is attacking us in the press even before we can sit around the table to talk.”
“We thought having talks would actually do us a world of good based on the legal advice we were given by the court,” he added.
But, with accusations flying, it remains to be seen whether long lost love between the BNP leaders can be rekindled.