Thabane, Majoro fight escalates

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. . . as SG Hlaele threatens action against Majoro faction.   

Pascalinah Kabi

THE bruising fight between the Thomas Thabane and Moeketsi Majoro-led factions for the control of the main ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) ahead of next year’s general elections is fasting descending into the proverbial theatre of the absurd.

Such is the pettiness of the antagonists that last week, the factions had a go at each other over the decision to hold the party’s 15th anniversary commemorations at Mr Thabane’s Makhoakhoeng, Ha-Abia, home.

Little-known ABC national executive committee (NEC) member, Keketso Lepheane, is said to have angered ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, after he questioned why the celebrations were held at Mr Thabane’s private residence.

Mr Hlaele, a Thabane loyalist and son-in-law to the former prime minister, did not take kindly to Mr Lepheane’s utterances. He subsequently sent an audio recording to fellow NEC members questioning why Mr Lepheane had issues with the staging of the event at Mr Thabane’s residence when he was always running to Prime Minister Majoro’s official State House residence to discuss party issues.

In the same audio, which was leaked to the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Hlaele also threatens disciplinary measures against Mr Lepheane and anyone else fomenting divisions in the party he claims to be working very hard to re-unite after the messy April 2021 split which saw former deputy leader Nqosa Mahao leave to form his own Basotho Action Party (BAP). Mokhotlong legislator and former cabinet minister, Tefo Mapesela, also dumped the ABC to form his own Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP).

It had been hoped that the departures of Professor Mahao, Mr Mapesela and their allies would usher in a new era of unity and stability in the ABC.

Mr Hlaele and other former Mahao loyalists like chairperson Samuel Rapapa, spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa and his deputy ‘Matebatso Doti all appeared to have embraced Mr Thabane’s leadership of the party. They also appeared to have embraced Dr Majoro who they coopted into the NEC in place of Prof Mahao.

However, the departure of Prof Mahao only appears to have eliminated one claimant to the ABC throne and given fresh impetus to the Thabane and Majoro factions to continue the fight for supremacy.

The infighting has been manifested through various issues. Among others, Dr Majoro stands accused of snubbing the NEC when it comes to making executive appointments in government. Although the premier has the prerogative to hire and fire as he sees fit, the NEC insists on being consulted because of its role in forging the coalition agreement with the Democratic Congress (DC) party which thrust Dr Majoro into power at the expense of Mr Thabane in May 2020.

A fortnight ago, the infighting escalated when Dr Majoro and others allegedly snubbed the party’s 15th anniversary celebrations at Mr Thabane’s Ha-Abia residence.

The other three who did not turn up for the event are deputy secretary general Nkaku Kabi, Messrs Rapapa, Masoetsa and Ms Doti.

ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele described the quintet’s no-show as “unacceptable” and clear example of their ill-discipline.

Dr Majoro and others later said they had not snubbed the event. They said they were committed elsewhere on the day. In any event, Mr Hlaele had not properly communicated about the event through the official party channels, Dr Majoro said.

But it appears the fallout has continued despite Mr Hlaele’s attempts to play it down last week.

Mr Lepheane is said to have questioned why the anniversary had been celebrated at Mr Thabane’s residence.

As the leaked audio has subsequently shown, his comments did not go down well with Mr Hlaele who warned that he would demand a written explanation from Mr Lepheane.

In his audio message to NEC members, Mr Hlaele said such statements used to be popular with the Likatana faction- a derisive term for Prof Mahao’s followers who used to include Mr Hlaele himself.

“Gentlemen, the statement by Ntate Lepheane deriding the fact that decisions or issues of the party are discussed at someone’s house is the same as statements which some of us used to make when we were Likatana faction members. I am embarrassed that such statements are now being made once again. I am planning to write to him to explain what he means by his statement,” Mr Hlaele said.

Although he claimed to have respect for Dr Majoro and said he would never speak of ill of him, Mr Hlaele is heard in the audio essentially accusing Dr Majoro of hosting clandestine meetings at his State House residence.

“As the secretary general, I am no longer willing to tolerate delinquents in the party. Daily, he (Lepheane) runs to State House to attend meetings. He must therefore explain to us who resides there because the ABC offices are located at Moon Star Building.

“How and why does he make a distinction between Makhoakhoeng and State House? I will not allow such delinquents to destroy our party for their own selfish reasons.

“We are in the middle of unifying the party and we can’t have people like Lepheane speaking about someone’s (Thabane’s residence) yet they are daily running to State House. I don’t know if that (State House) is the party’s residence.

“This is pathetic and disgusting. It is embarrassing to have an NEC member speaking ill of his own leader. I will not speak ill of my leader. I will not speak ill of Ntate Majoro, the deputy leader. He is my leader. I cannot speak ill of the NEC. The poison that Ntate Lepheane adopted from the Likatana faction must now come to an end. We need to unite,” Mr Hlaele says in the audio.

He also asks NEC members to check his WhatsApp status to understand why he usually shies away from discussing what he calls immature politics.

Mr Hlaele’s WhatsApp profile states, “I only debate with my equals, all others, I teach”.

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