Moorosi Tsiane/ Pascalinah Kabi
ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) Senator, Lebohang Hlaele, says the ruling party’s leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is planning to jump ship and form a new party.
Mr Hlaele was fired by Dr Thabane from his post as the Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights in February.
Although Dr Thabane did not give reasons for firing Mr Hlaele and his Social Development counterpart, ‘Matebatso Doti, the Lesotho Times was authoritatively informed that the duo was axed over their support of Professor Nqosa Mahao at the ABC’s 1 and 2 February elective conference.
Prof Mahao contested and won the deputy leader’s post against Dr Thabane’s wishes. His victory put him in good stead to eventually lead the ABC and possibly become Prime Minister. Mr Hlaele and Ms Doti were elected secretary general and deputy spokesperson respectively. However, they and the rest of the new ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) have not been able to assume office after their election was challenged by three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe).
As the fallout from the elective conference continues, the ABC is now divided into two factions of the old and new NECs and these have been holding parallel countrywide rallies to win the support of the party faithful.
Early this week, the new NEC held a rally in Maputsoe where Mr Hlaele told ABC supporters to be wary of Dr Thabane who he said appeared to preach unity when he was harbouring plans of forming a new party.
He said Dr Thabane has been preaching unity in his recent rallies in the Likhoele, Hololo and Mosalemane constituencies, adding that the ABC supporters should however, be wary of him.
“When our leader addressed a rally in Likhoele, he was so humble and preached unity of the two factions in the party. He repeated the same message in Hololo and Mosalemane but I am saying that you must carefully follow up on what he says to see where it will lead to,” Mr Hlaele said.
Mr Hlaele suggested that Dr Thabane was preaching unity while gauging the mood and extent of his support, adding that one day the premier would return to the ABC supporters to tell them that he was ditching the party to form a new one because the new ABC’s NEC had refused to heed his pleas for unity.
“One of these days the leader will come to you and claim that we are refusing to listen to him and therefore he is jumping ship to form a new party. He (Dr Thabane) will ask you to follow him (into the new party) because we (the new NEC) are disobedient.”
Mr Hlaele suggested that Dr Thabane’s strategy to gauge support before forming a new party involved meetings with councillors from the country’s 10 districts.
“When have you ever seen a prime minister going to all the districts conducting meetings with the councillors? That is the responsibility of the Local Government ministry but we are aware that there is a plan for him to meet the councillors because he wants to lobby them.
“When they are done with the councillors they will going after the elderly citizens and try to also lure them into his (Dr Thabane’s) corner.”
Mr Hlaele also said that Dr Thabane was wrong to say that the new NEC should not hold separate rallies. He said there was nothing in the ABC constitution which stopped them from doing so.
“Our leader is saying that we are all should be there when he is holding a rally but that is not the law. In the ABC we have a constitution and we have to abide by it. Let us all stand together and refuse to be toyed around with,” Mr Hlaele said.