Opposition parties grace Mahao rally

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…Movement for Economic Change (MEC) provide chairs and tent

Limpho Sello

THE raging war for the control of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) this week took a dramatic twist with supporters of other parties including those in the opposition turning up at the Mafeteng rally that was held by the ABC faction that is loyal to the incoming deputy leader of the ABC, Professor Nqosa Mahao.

Sizeable crowds of Alliance for Democrats (AD), opposition Democratic Congress (DC) and MEC supporters were visible among the ABC supporters due to their party regalia.

Most of the supporters of the other parties said they were recent graduates from the university who had attended to “learn more about politics, democracy and to show their solidarity with Prof Mahao” who had so far been prevented from assuming office despite winning the deputy leader’s post at the ABC’s 1-2 February 2019 national executive committee (NEC) elections.

Prof Mahao is currently the Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL). His contract expires on 30 November this year and it will not be renewed as he has already set his sights on a career in the top echelons of the ABC after his recent stunning victory in the contest for the deputy leader’s post.

Despite his win last month, Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC have not been able to assume office due to resistance from the old and three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) who have since lodged a court application seeking the nullification of the results of the party’s February elective conference. They argue that the polls were marred by vote rigging and consequently cannot be deemed to have been credible.

It was more than just solidarity for the MEC supporters who went as far as providing chairs and a tent for use at the rally in the Qalabane constituency in the Mafeteng district on Sunday.

One of those who attended the rally was the Mafeteng district secretary of the Selibe Mochoboroane-led MEC, Advocate Mokoenanyane Makhobakhobe.

Adv Makhobakhobe told the Lesotho Times that he had attended in his personal capacity because the rally was held in his backyard as well as because he was disciple of democratic processes such as those that had ushered in Prof Mahao and the rest of the ABC’s new NEC.

“I came here in my personal capacity even though I am a MEC member and the district secretary general. I must make it clear that I was not sent by my party and I must also make it clear that I’m not here to defect to the ABC. I’m just here as a visitor to honour an invitation from Prof Mahao and (ABC activist) Thato Ponya,” Adv Makhobakhobe told this publication on the sidelines of the rally.

He said the MEC would hold its elective conference from 2-3 May and unlike the ABC, all MEC officials would accept the outcome of the polls because “at MEC we are democrats at heart”.

Whereas Adv Makhobakhobe advanced solidarity and philosophical considerations, other MEC supporters appeared to have more practical reasons for attending the rally as they even lent chairs and a tent to the ABC. They also helped in transporting the equipment and they were observed helping their ABC counterparts to set up the tent.

Meanwhile, one of the DC supporters, Bokang Semuli, said he was a recent graduate from NUL who had served in the Students’ Representative Council (SRC).

Mr Semuli said the prospecting of witnessing firsthand Prof Mahao transferring his excellent leadership skills in the academic field to his fledgling political career had brought him to the rally.

“I wanted to hear him (Prof Mahao) now that he has shifted from the academic field to politics. I was simply there to listen to his articulation of issues,” Mr Semuli said.

Mr Semuli said although he was not best-placed to speak about the ABC conflict, Prof Mahao was elected deputy leader of the ABC “in a democratic process which our people and I believe in”.

“If the outcome of an election is based on the majority’s votes, I would have no reason not to support such a person (who wins). If I had to choose who to support between the two ABC factions, I would support the person who was voted for by most of the people because I stand and fight for the masses.

“But then again, my support doesn’t count for anything because I remain a member of the DC and at the end of the day, the (ABC) issues will be decided by the ABC members,” Mr Semuli said.

 

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