Violence rocks ABC rally

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  •  MP Fako Moshoeshoe saved by police from attacks by rowdy supporters 

Limpho Sello

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s weekend rally at Mabote in Maseru was almost turned into a boxing match when some ABC supporters manhandled the constituency’s legislator Fako Moshoeshoe.

Mr Moshoeshoe was rescued by alert police officers from irate supporters not happy that the legislator is siding with Professor Nqosa Mahao in the battle for control of the party.

The incident happened before ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane took to the podium to address supporters of the fractions ruling party. When he eventually took to the stage, Dr Thabane made no mention of the incident- a development that did not go down well with Mr Moshoeshoe.

In addition to being the Mabote legislator, Mr Moshoeshoe is also chairperson of the ABC’s parliamentary caucus. He is one of 21 legislators who, in March, appended their signatures to a petition calling on Dr Thabane to urgently intervene in the ongoing power struggle which threatens to split the ABC and even collapse the government.

Mr Moshoeshoe is aligned to the faction led by Prof Mahao in the battle for control of the party. The Mahao faction faces fierce opposition from the old national executive committee (NEC) whose term ended early this year but have steadfastly refused to allow Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC elected in February to take over. The old NEC has the upper hand – at least for now – after a recent High Court ruling confirmed it as the interim structure of the party for a year until May 2020.

Over the weekend the interim NEC held its rally which was graced by Dr Thabane. Despite his affiliation to the Mahao camp, Mr Moshoeshoe attended the Mabote rally in his capacity as the constituency’s legislator.

And what started off as a seemingly light-hearted exchange between one ABC supporter and Mr Moshoeshoe almost degenerated into fisticuffs. This was after the supporter teamed up with others to manhandle the legislator.

This incensed Mr Moshoeshoe who aimed a punch in the direction of his would-be assailants but the police quickly stepped in to diffuse the potentially explosive situation. The police quickly escorted Mr Moshoeshoe to the V.I.P tent where he sat along with Dr Thabane, cabinet ministers and other legislators.

In a subsequent interview with the Lesotho Times, Mr Moshoeshoe said he did not see the attack coming.

He however, said he would not be deterred in his quest to fully serve his constituents as “God would continue to protect me”.

“Freedom doesn’t come on a silver platter; it is worked for by real men who can stand up and fight for the truth,” Mr Moshoeshoe said, adding, “I’m protected by God as I serve these people”.

Mr Moshoeshoe said he was taken aback by Dr Thabane’s “failure to condemn such acts of violence”.

“But I still hope that when he (Dr Thabane) is in his comfort zone and he remembers the incident, he will talk to me to show that he did not like what happened at the rally.”

Asked why he did not flee for his safety, Mr Moshoeshoe retorted, “Leave and go where?”

“I was the convener of that rally by virtue of it being held in my constituency. I wouldn’t leave people in my constituency just like that. That would have been a very dumb decision and I’m not that kind of man.”

Prior to the altercation, Mr Moshoeshoe was heckled during his address.

He however, said he was unphased by the booing which was “probably from people that had been bused in from other constituencies and were possibly not even ABC supporters”.

“The only thing that will set this party free from its divisions is the truth and the leader (Dr Thabane) needs to take charge and lead in the right direction to free the ABC.”

In his address to party supporters, Mr Moshoeshoe spoke of his love for Dr Thabane, adding that his constituents wanted to understand why the new NEC they elected in February had not been allowed into office.

“Ntate Thabane, they (constituents) want to know the latest developments as they elected a new committee on 1 and 2 February 2019. They are in the dark as to what is really happening.”

Even as the crowd continued to boo him, Mr Moshoeshoe continued to directly address Dr Thabane, saying, “You need not worry about such issues (the booing) Ntate Thabane. Soon enough the people will know what is right.”

ABC youth leader Tšoloane Maphasa used his time on the podium to berate Mr Moshoeshoe for allegedly rebelling against Dr Thabane.

“Comrade Fako Moshoeshoe this rally would have still been a success even in your absence.

“I am sure you have seen what is in the people’s hearts (as reflected by the booing). I never thought that you would become a rebel against the leader of the ABC. Where were you on the days when you did not attend the leader’s rallies? You claim to support the ABC leader but you are not seen at his rallies. You must attend his rallies,” Mr Maphasa told Mr Moshoeshoe.

 

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