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The ABC must put its house in order

by Lesotho Times

THE ongoing chaos in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) makes for sad reading especially at this time when the party and the government should be focusing all their energies on ensuring the successful implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

It has been said that history repeats itself because we fail to learn from mistakes and repeat the same errors over and over again. It has also been said that madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

We do not think the ABC leaders are mad nor do we think the unsavoury history of splits of hitherto big political parties is something they would wish for their own party which is currently the biggest entity in the four-party coalition. But the ABC certainly has a lot to learn from the implosions of other once formidable and bigger parties that tore themselves apart due to internecine power struggles.

Reading into the recent events that characterised the run up to the party’s elective conference from 1 to 3 February 2019, it would seem that ABC leaders have a death wish for their party. And this is a party which had brought so much hope to peace-loving Basotho after the impunity that characterised the tenure of the previous Pakalitha Mosisili regime.

First there was that damaging fallout over whether or not Professor Nqosa Mahao should be allowed to contest the deputy leader’s position. The ABC leaders exchanged harsh words after the then national executive committee (NEC) resolved to bar Prof Mahao on the grounds that he had not served the required time in party structures to be allowed to contest.

Prof Mahao only contested after the Court of Appeal nullified his disqualification and even then, the vote counting was mired in chaos as party members bickered and rejected some of the results that were announced by the Lesotho Council of Non-governmental Organisations (LCN) which ran the elections on behalf of the ABC. At some stage, ABC delegates were even evicted from their conference venue by the police on the grounds that their permit had expired.

Up to now the new NEC has not been sworn-in as Prof Mahao’s victory is being challenged by some ABC officials.

We had thought the party would emerge from its hotly contested leadership conference to close ranks and re-unite to work towards common goals for its own good and that of the country, more so after the infighting that has bedeviled it since early last year.

But to our dismay and that of everyone else who desperately wants the country on a stable footing, ABC operatives appear hell-bent on shooting themselves in the feet.

This week three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) filed a petition challenging the election of Prof Mahao and the rest of the NEC.

They want the High Court to nullify the outcome of the recent NEC elections and order a fresh poll within three months.

It is not for us to say who is right or wrong.  It is also not for us to say who should run the ABC. We however, become uneasy when the party that is at the helm of the state suffers convulsions and implosions which have implications for the country as a whole.

Whenever there are tensions within the ABC, the government and the rest of Lesotho frets and fears the worst.

It is not difficult to see why this is so. The ABC is the main partner in a four-party coalition which also includes the Alliance of Democrats (AD), the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL). It is the party that provides the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, the majority of cabinet ministers and legislators.

Consequently, the internal dynamics of the party are and should be of interest to everyone, including those who are not party supporters, because whatever happens within the ABC affects the whole nation. Those dynamics will determine how the party conducts its business in the government either for the good or to the detriment of the nation.

It is for this reason that we have been following with keen interest the ABC infighting which continues to deepen with each passing week. It is for the same reason that we urge the party to urgently solve its problems. There are far-reaching implications for the nation in the event that the party implodes.

It can be argued that infights and quarrels are inevitable in any political formation, and sometimes it is even healthy to have them. But it is also true that the less the infighting the better especially when the party concerned is in power. The more the cohesion in any ruling party the better it is for positive governance outcomes.  When the attention of ruling parties gets diverted by internal fissures, the governance process and service delivery suffer.

The process of undertaking critical constitutional, security sector and legislative reforms to end the perennial instability in this Kingdom is now underway.  There is no denying that a strong government is a pre-requisite to leading this all-important process.  Any government is only as strong as its constituent parts, particularly its biggest part which at this moment in time happens to be the ABC.

It is for this reason that the infighting in the ABC should be a huge cause for worry.

SADC gave Lesotho until May 2019 to have fully implemented the constitutional and security sector reforms required to foster permanent sanity in this Kingdom.

But these reforms will not be achieved when the very party that is supposed to be a leading player cannot even resolve its own internal problems.

It is not for us to say how but ours is a plea to the ABC leaders to urgently resolve their party’s challenges, for the sake of the nation.

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