Thabane turns on daughter

  • blasts her for siding with ABC rivals
  • while husband Hlaele slates PM for questioning his love for his daughter

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

A LIVID All Basotho Convention leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has hit out at his daughter ‘Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele for taking up the cudgels on behalf of his antagonist, Professor Nqosa Mahao, in the battle for control of the ABC.

The premier also tore into his son-in-law, Lebohang Hlaele, suggesting that he had only entered into a loveless marriage of convenience with his daughter so that he could one day take over the ABC.

Prof Mahao was not spared by Dr Thabane who blasted him for his recent allegations that the premier had ceded leadership of the party and government to his wife, ’Maesaiah.

The setting for Dr Thabane’s vicious outbursts was the ABC’s weekend rally in Qeme, Maseru. When the premier stepped up to the podium, it was like a re-enactment of the biblical prediction of divisions mounting within nations and families with parents turning against children and vice versa. In Thabane’s case, a daughter has turned against father due to the escalating power struggle raging in the ABC ever since its February 2019 elective conference which ushered in Prof Mahao, Mr Hlaele and others into the party’s NEC.

Advocate ‘Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele has been representing his husband’s faction in all the court battles against his father, Dr Thabane, for control of the ABC.

Prof Mahao clinched the powerful post of deputy leader, making him the frontrunner to succeed Dr Thabane in the party and government when the veteran leader eventually decides to call it a day. Mr Hlaele clinched the important post of secretary general. However, the advent of Prof Mahao has been bitterly opposed by Dr Thabane and other party officials who have condemned him as an “upstart” who should not hold that powerful post ahead of seasoned ABC stalwarts. Mr Hlaele has already paid the price for supporting Prof Mahao after he was booted out of his Law and Constitutional Affairs cabinet portfolio in February this year. In addition, Dr Thabane recently “expelled” Mr Hlaele from the ABC along with Prof Mahao, Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa and Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson) despite a court ruling which upheld their election.

Up until now, Dr Thabane had not made any public comments about her daughter’s support for her husband and the Mahao faction.

But on Sunday, Adv Hlaele was finally served with her own dish of her father’s wrath for fighting in her husband’s and Prof Mahao’s corner in the legal battles that have ensued since the February elective conference.

A livid Dr Thabane warned Adv Hlaele she would one day regret her decision to side with his antagonists. He also questioned the genuineness of Mr Hlaele’s love for his daughter, suggesting that he had only married her to be in close proximity to power and influence.

“There is this young man who is spreading the propaganda that he is my son in law,” Dr Thabane said.

“Does he (Mr Hlaele) even love my daughter? His actions do not show (love). But you, my daughter, you will remember me. I am still your father.

“I did not form the ABC for sons-in-law. I formed it for Basotho. I did not know before that Hlaele married my daughter because he wanted to inherit this party,” Dr Thabane said.

When contacted for comment this week, Adv Hlaele was coy and diplomatic. But even in that diplomatic approach,  she referred to her father in the third person, using a pronoun instead of by name.

“I did not attend the Qeme rally and therefore I don’t have anything to say about issues discussed there. Anyone who spoke about me will have the answers,” Adv Hlaele said.

Mr Hlaele was, however, far from diplomatic when contacted for his side of the story. He said Dr Thabane had no business interrogating his love for his daughter.

“I am not in love with Ntate Thabane. I did not ask permission from him to love or marry his daughter. It is a matter between two people. If I do not love her, she would have said it herself. No one else has the right or qualification to interfere in people’s love affairs. Their opinion would be baseless,” Mr Hlaele said.

He also said that Dr Thabane was wrong to think he (Mr Hlaele) married his daughter to “inherit” the ABC. He said he did not need Dr Thabane’s endorsement to ascend to any position within the party, adding all that was required was hard work and support from party members.

“Political parties are not inherited. He (Dr Thabane) knows me better than any other person. I was with him in the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP). I worked hard for myself in all the parties I have been a member of, in South Africa and in Lesotho. I don’t need any endorsement of anyone regardless of their status or position in that party,” Mr Hlaele said.

“When we were going for the (February) elective conference there was unrest. He (Dr Thabane) told me point blank that he did not support me for the secretary general’s post. He said he supported (Mr Samonyane) Ntsekele. I made it clear that I wanted to prove him wrong. I became the secretary general and that shows that I do not need his support for any position. I can be a leader without his support,” Mr Hlaele said.

Dr Thabane also tore into Prof Mahao for his recent comments that the premier had abdicated his leadership of the party and government to his wife.

Prof Mahao told a South African television channel that Dr Thabane had fallen into the “Robert Mugabe trap” of surrendering power to his wife,  ’Maesaiah.

Prof Mahao said Ms Thabane had singularly become the most powerful individual in Lesotho, hiring and firing ministers and top civil servants. He warned that the ‘bedroom coup’ by the unelected Ms Thabane risked collapsing the government, adding that the ABC would be defeated in any resultant snap national elections unless the First Lady was reined in.

Dr Thabane did not take kindly to the comments and told his estranged party deputy to stay away from his family issues.

“There is this person who goes by the name of Prof Mahao. Tell that person to stay out of my business. I am not interested in his family matters. I do not know his wife and I do not want to know anything about her. But now that he has started the wives talk, I am going to learn more about his wife….,” Dr Thabane said.

The premier spoke as the battles ravaging the ABC continue in earnest with no end in sight.  A group of people claiming to be from the party’s 54 (out of 80)  constituencies assembled at the weekend and claimed they had suspended Dr Thabane from the party for six years and anointed Prof Mahao as interim party leader. Dr Thabane had earlier been “suspended” by the Mahao faction. But the premier insisted he remains leader of the ABC and is fully in charge of the party. In an ominous warning, he asked security agencies to rein in the Mahao faction saying their actions could cause bloodshed in the country.

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