Only Mahao can save the ABC: MPs

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) faction loyal to Professor Nqosa Mahao says the party will never have peace unless the outgoing National University of Lesotho (NUL) vice chancellor and the rest of the ABC’s new national executive committee (NEC) members are allowed to assume office.

The 21 ABC legislators, who have thrown their weight behind the new NEC in its power struggle with the old NEC, further say they have no plans to oust the ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane but they want him to be deputised by Prof Mahao as “he (Prof Mahao) is the only one who can rescue the party which is already on the path to its downfall”.

Speaking at a weekend rally that was held by the pro-Mahao camp in the Mosalemane constituency in Berea, the ABC’s legislator for the Pela Tšoeu constituency, Mphosi Nkhasi, said the 21 legislators were not rebels for supporting the new NEC. They were merely standing by a democratically elected committee.

“The leader (Thabane) asked us to elect a committee we want but after you elected the committee it was rejected,” Mr Nkhasi told the rally.

“The 1 and 2 February elections have caused commotion within Kobotata (the ABC). When we realised the problem, we as the Brave 21 legislators, wrote to the party leader asking for a caucus meeting to raise these concerns.

“We are not rebelling against the leader but all we want is for the new committee that was elected by Makobotata (ABC members) to be allowed into office. The Brave 21 are fighting for the new committee to be allowed into office or else there will never be peace in the ABC.”

The ‘Brave 21’ legislators are Dr Thabane’s son-in-law, Senator Lebohang Hlaele, Nyapane Kaya (member of parliament for the Mechachane constituency), Molefi Phamotse (Likhoele), Sentje Lebona (Mohale’s Hoek), Sello Mooki (Bobatsi), Lefu Hlomelang (Makhoroana), Matebatso Doti (Lithabaneng), Nto Moakhi (Malibamatšo), Motebang Koma (Koro-Koro), Mamoipone Senauoane (Thaba Tseka), Motlatsi Maqelepo (Berea), Selemo Mangobe (Taung), Mphosi Nkhasi (Pela Tšoeu), Sotlehang Sekhamane (Maputsoe), Thabo Sofonea (Thaba Bosiu), Samuel Rapapa (Mosalemane), Fako Moshoeshoe (Mabote constituency), Tello Kibane (Peka), Libe Motšoane (Mphosong), Thlolohelo Mokoma (Mantsonyane) and Mankoe Maime (Maama).

On his part, the Mosalemane legislator and incoming ABC chairperson, Samuel Rapapa said that Prof Mahao was the “right candidate to save the sinking ABC”.

The name of deposed former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe loomed large in Mr Rapapa’s address when he cited a book on his November 2017 fall from power as an example that the ABC leadership should learn from.

Mr Mugabe was allegedly influenced by his wife, Grace Mugabe to fire his long-time assistant, Emmerson Mnangagwa from the vice presidency of the ruling Zanu PF and government. However, Mr Mnangagwa had the last laugh a few weeks later when the military helped him to oust the nonagenarian leader.

And on Sunday, Mr Rapapa said, “there are three books I would like to reference in regard to the situation of the ABC”.

“These books are The Graceless Fall of Robert Mugabe (by Geoff Nyarota), The Fall of the ANC (by Mzukisi Qobo and Prince Mashele) and We Have Now Begun Our Descent (by Justice Malala).

“Our party has begun a descent. When a plane is about to land and the pilot sees danger on the ground, he lifts the plane up again and in this ABC situation, Prof Mahao can lift the sinking ABC,” Mr Rapapa said.

His sentiments were echoed by the Mahao faction’s secretary general and former Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs, Lebohang Hlaele, who said that those who did not want Prof Mahao in the party were free to jump ship.

In a sly dig at some of the party hawks who have refused to embrace Prof Mahao on the grounds that he only recently joined the ABC in 2015 while they had founded the party in 2006, Mr Hlalele said everyone was a newcomer into the party and they all had histories in other political formations.

“We were elected on the basis of our constitution which states that the NEC is elected through votes. There is nowhere where it is stated that there is someone who has powers to inaugurate a new committee.

“We are all newcomers in the ABC. I am from the Lesotho Congress of Democracy where I was a youth leader and in 2006, I joined the ABC and became the first person to contest for the party in Qaqatu. I have never told anyone that they are newcomers. This party cannot grow if we keep telling people that they are newcomers. If people join us because they love unity, we cannot tell them that they are newcomers and therefore they will not be allowed to contest for NEC positions.

“Those who say they will not accept Mahao because they say he is a new in the party should kill themselves or rather cross over to another party and no one will fight or stop them,” Mr Hlaele said.

Prof Mahao was nominated by the Koro-Koro constituency to contest the deputy leader’s position. However, the ABC’s old NEC disqualified him on the grounds that he had not served in the party structures for the required 36 months to be eligible to stand in the elections.

The Koro-Koro committee challenged the ABC’s decision in the High Court and subsequently won the case on appeal on 1 February 2019 in the Court of Appeal.

This cleared the way for Prof Mahao to contest and he beat a strong field of ABC politicians that included Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, Public Works and Transport minister Prince Maliehe and former ABC chairperson Motlohi Maliehe.

However, the new NEC is yet to assume office with the old NEC publicly fighting Prof Mahao as a “newcomer” who should never be allowed to take over from Dr Thabane ahead of the founding members of the party.

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