Thabane, Mahao for crunch talks

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…face-to-face meeting expected to resolve differences after Thabane’s attack on Mahao

Pascalinah Kabi

NATIONAL University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor Nqosa Mahao will hold face-to-face talks with All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, who recently savaged him over his quest to become the party’s deputy leader at its elective conference next month.

The talks are aimed at clearing the air and resolving differences between the two after Dr Thabane tore into Professor Mahao describing the latter as a “useless rag” who should not be voted into the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC). Dr Thabane’s vitriolic attacks followed the recent decision by the party’s NEC to disqualify Prof Mahao from contesting at its 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference on the grounds that he did not fulfill the party’s criteria to contest.

The ABC’s Koro-Koro constituency committee which had nominated Professor Mahao is now fighting the disqualification in the courts.

Dr Thabane had also vowed that Prof Mahao would never succeed him as party leader and told the latter’s backers to leave the ABC and form another party. Dr Thabane subsequently apologised for the remarks which he said were rather too harsh.

But Prof Mahao, who has so far avoided commenting on Dr Thabane’s acerbic remarks, is forging ahead with his preparations for the ABC contest and over the weekend he took his campaign to the Mekaling constituency in Mohale’s Hoek.

He preached unity within the fractious party and told supporters that he would soon meet Dr Thabane to discuss their fall-out which has played out in the public arena.

Prof Mahao said he had been informed of the planned meeting by the Principal Chief of Thaba-Bosiu, Khoabane Theko.

“The Principal Chief of Thaba-Bosiu, Khoabane Theko, recently approached me and informed me that he met with the party leader (Dr Thabane) and I, Nqosa Mahao, was among issues that were discussed during that meeting,” Prof Mahao said.

“He (Chief Theko) told me that he asked the leader what had happened (for Dr Thabane to castigate Prof Mahao).

“I will not tell you the response (by Dr Thabane) but they agreed that the leader (Dr Thabane) should call me for a meeting and Chief Khoabane has advised me to be ready for such a meeting. This is why I have decided to ignore everything else and wait for my leader to call me,” added Prof Mahao.

He reiterated that he would not comment on Dr Thabane’s recent attack on him, saying he had not bothered to listen to the audio clip which was sent to him by various concerned individuals.

“My answer is that I, Nqosa Mahao, did not listen to that speech and therefore I don’t have an answer to whatever was said. The audio clips were sent to me but I didn’t download them. I didn’t listen to them and I did that on purpose.”

Attempts to obtain comment from Chief Khoabane about the planned Thabane-Mahao were unsuccessful as his mobile number was unreachable.

ABC Spokesperson Tefo Mapesela’s mobile phone also rang unanswered yesterday.

Prof Mahao appealed to party members to unite and avoid playing into the hands of enemies who he said were eagerly anticipating the party to split after its elective conference.

While appealing for all party members to support whoever won the elections, he however, urged the Mohale’s Hoek district to elect candidates backed by his camp as they were the most suitable to replace the outgoing NEC.

The candidates include ministers, Lebogang Hlaele (Law and Constitutional Affairs) and ‘Matebatso Doti (Social Development) who have been nominated for secretary general and deputy public relations officer respectively.

Prof Mahao said they also supported Mabote and Bobatsi legislators, Fako Moshoeshoe and Mooki Sello for the posts of party chairperson and deputy chairperson respectively.

Mantšonyane constituency chairperson ‘Maoshoa Mpeoa has been nominated for the post of deputy secretary, Malibamatšo legislator Nto Moakhi has been nominated for treasurer while Makhoroana legislator Lefu Hlomelang is vying for the post of public relations officer.

Thaba-Bosiu legislator Thabo Sofonea will contest for the post of the secretary responsible for taking minutes at NEC meetings. Prof Mahao said his camp had also resolved to have the outspoken Matsieng councilor, ‘Matelang Lethapa, on standby in case any of their team’s nomination was rejected.

Prof Mahao pleaded with party members to go to the elective conference with an open mind, appreciating that any side could win. He urged his supporters to accept the outcome of the elections.

Speaking on the need for unity within the ABC, Prof Mahao said, “there are enemies outside there and they are eagerly waiting to see us emerge from the elective conference divided”.

“They want to use that (ABC divisions) to sneak back into power and we all know what happens when they are in power. We know the injustices that were inflicted on Basotho when they were in government; we all know how they loot the public purse and we know their arrogance towards the nation.

“It is in this regard that I am pleading with you Makobotata (ABC members) that we must go into the elective conference knowing that competing is a democratic exercise but it should not divide this party in any way.”

He expressed optimism that the elections would be conducted in a fair and transparent manner. Thereafter, all ABC members should unite under the leadership of Dr Thabane, he said.

All positions, except for that of party leader which is held by Dr Thabane, are up for grabs at the ABC’s elective conference

The run-up to the ABC conference is saddled with controversy after the party rejected the nomination of Prof Mahao for the number two post.

Prof Mahao had thrown his hat into the contest against Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, party chairperson Motlohi Maliehe and the acting incumbent, Prince Maliehe, who is also Transport and Public Works Minister.

The NEC disqualified Prof Mahao, claiming he did not fulfill the party’s criteria to contest.

The Koro-Koro constituency committee which had nominated Prof Mahao unsuccessfully applied to the High Court to have Prof Mahao’s disqualification nullified.

It remains to be seen whether or not Prof Mahao will contest next Friday as the Court of Appeal is yet to hear the Koro-Koro constituency committee’s appeal against his disqualification by the High Court.

 

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