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Thabane, Mahao finally meet

by Lesotho Times
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Mohalenyane Phakela / Moorosi Tsiane

ALL Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane and his incoming deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, finally met this week after two months of bickering and infighting which threatens to split the ruling party and even collapse the government.

Mr Montoeli Masoetsa, who was elected ABC spokesperson at the party’s hotly disputed 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference, yesterday said Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao met at the State House on Tuesday and “resolved that the negotiations should start immediately to end this misunderstanding” (in the ABC).

Ever since the ABC’s February conference, the party has been rocked by infighting which has divided it in two national executive committee (NEC) factions. The outgoing NEC, which is said to enjoy the support of Dr Thabane has dug in and refused to hand over power to the new NEC, most of whose members are said to be loyal to Prof Mahao who was elected deputy leader. Three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung constituency), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) have also filed a High Court application seeking the nullification of the February party polls on the grounds that they were marred by vote rigging.

In addition to the court battles, the two factions have also taken their war to party supporters, holding competing rallies on a weekly basis to argue their cases.

Last month the two factions failed to reach an out-of-court agreement to end the in-fighting. But this week’s meetings between Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao have renewed hope that the factions could resolve their differences after all.

Yesterday, Mr Masoetsa was quoted by a local radio station as saying, “on the 9th of April 2019, Prof Mahao held a meeting with the leader Tom (Thomas) Thabane and the First Lady at the State House at 8.00am”.

“That meeting resolved that the negotiations should start immediately to end this misunderstanding and the leader assigned (outgoing secretary general Samonyane) Ntsekele to make sure that this attempt succeeds. Ntsekele met with Prof Mahao at 3.00pm to come up with the work plan and that work plan will have to be discussed and finalised today, the 10th of April 2019. Until there has been an agreement between the leader (Dr Thabane) and the deputy (Prof Mahao), the parallel rallies will continue,” added Mr Masoetsa.

Yesterday, Mr Masoetsa and Mr Ntsekele told the Lesotho Times that the latter and Prof Mahao met again as the two factions intensified the efforts to reach a deal.

“I can confirm that we have been assigned by the leader to meet but I cannot discuss the details regarding the meeting because I am not at liberty to share anything with media. I cannot even say how long the talks will last but we will meet again tomorrow (today),” Mr Ntsekele said yesterday.

Prof Mahao referred all questions to Mr Masoetsa, saying as the newly elected ABC spokesperson, the latter was “best placed to comment about ABC issues”.

Mr Masoetsa echoed Ntsekele’s sentiments, saying there was a meeting on Tuesday and another will be held today to map the way forward.

“The first meeting was just a preliminary one but there will another one tomorrow (today) and on Sunday if need be.

“At the moment we cannot say whether or not we will finally get to the bottom of this (infighting) because this is not the first time we are meeting. The last meetings failed to come up with solutions,” Mr Masoetsa said.

Even as the two parties negotiate, the parallel rallies will continue on Sunday with Dr Thabane expected to address party supporters in Peka (Leribe) while Prof Mahao will be in Mohale’s Hoek.

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