NUL professor could challenge Lekhanya

MASERU — A faction in the Basotho National Party (BNP) says it wants prominent political scholar Professor Kopano Makoa to challenge party leader Major General Metsing Lekhanya for leadership at the party’s annual general conference this year.
Moeketsi Hanyane, the former BNP youth leader and one of the prominent people behind the anti-Lekhanya faction, said the decision to endorse Makoa was made on Sunday.
“We are saying we want leadership change in the party and the person we believe can take us forward is Professor Makoa,” said Hanyane, who for the past six months has been pushing to topple Lekhanya.
He is part of the faction that has openly called on Lekhanya to go. The faction, which professes to be leader-less has also rejected decisions made the Lekhanya-led executive.
Lekhanya has called Hanyane and company a group of rebels that wants to destabilise a functioning party and wrestle power through unconstitutional means.
Yet the faction has insisted that the BNP has lost grip on a huge chunk of the electorate precisely because of Lekhanya’s leadership which they describe as “dictatorial”.
Hanyane said the time to change the leadership was now.
“We have been having regular meetings to plot the strategy,” he confirmed.
The date for the general conference has not yet been announced but according to the party’s constitution it is likely to be held around March this year.
Hanyane said the faction had since communicated their preference to elect Makoa whom he described as not hostile to the idea.  
“We have told him that we would prefer to have him as the leader of the party,” Hanyane said adding that under Lekhanya the party had lost support.
“We are the dominant faction in the party and we believe that the time has come for us to change the leadership to revive the party. We need a new leadership that will drive the party forward.”
Under Lekhanya the BNP has died, Hanyane said.
The decision is likely to deepen the chasm between the warring factions. 
Hanyane however said his faction was committed to taking control of the party from “a group of people who have hijacked it and have lost the people’s mandate”.
“It is no longer a secret that we don’t see eye-to-eye with the Lekhanya executive,” he said.
Makoa however said the decision does not mean that he has been selected as a candidate.
“They have merely expressed their preference and I happen to be one of the people they have mentioned,” said Makoa adding that it should not be viewed as a nomination.
“That is merely the position of the group,” he said.
“They are saying if the party holds a transparent and free and fair election at its annual conference I am one of the people they would want to see contesting for the leadership. It’s not a candidature as yet.” 
Hanyane said the leadership change was part of the party’s strategy to win the 2012 general elections.
“We want to revive the BNP with the aim of taking over  the government,” Hanyane said
To illustrate what he alleged to be Lekhanya’s failures Hanyane said the BNP had lost more than 100 000 supporters since 2002.
“For example, in the 2002 elections, the BNP polled 124 000 votes whilst in the 2007 national elections the party had dropped to 21 000.”
“That is the failure that we are talking about.”

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