Thabane’s  Waterloo

Thabane’s Waterloo

THE extraordinary decision by the Professor Nqosa Mahao camp to “suspend” party leader, Thomas Thabane, has taken the battle for the control of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) to totally new levels of absurdity.
The Mahao group accused Thabane of undermining the party’s Constitution and disregarding the ABC’s National Executive Committee’s decisions.

They now want to haul Thabane to a disciplinary hearing, with the likely and obvious outcome that he could be expelled from the party he formed in 2006. And what an ignominy that would be!

The “suspension” has been dismissed as a joke by a faction fighting in Thabane’s corner. The ABC’s deputy secretary general, Nkaku Kabi, accused the Mahao group of sowing confusion among party followers.

While this battle for the heart and soul of the ABC drags on in the courts, it is patently clear that the writing is now on the wall for Thabane. It is clear that the party he formed 13 years ago, will never be the same again.

We are not surprised that Thabane’s critics within the opposition bloc and his own party have already begun to pen his political obituary. At 80, Thabane is now well past his sell-by date.

If the opposition and the Mahao camp succeed in pushing for a vote-of-no-confidence when Parliament re-opens in September, Thabane will be history if he calls a snap election, unless he has yet another trick up his sleeves.

When Thabane is finally gone, the epitaph on his political tombstone could read: Here lies a Prime Minister who failed to deal successfully with the succession issue within his own party leading to his own downfall.

With a snap election on the cards, the Thabane camp are caught in a quandary. They have a candidate who has incensed his electoral base by pushing unpopular policies like the Wool and Mohair Regulations 2018.
They have a candidate who has infuriated his electoral base by allowing his unpopular wife, ‘Maesiah, to meddle in government affairs.

At the risk of sounding treasonous, the unpalatable truth is that the Thabane camp might need to come up with a new candidate if they are to remain relevant.
But time is not on their side.

In the final analysis, Thabane will be remembered as a brilliant communicator who could easily connect with impoverished Basotho most of whom lived on less than one United States dollar a day. His ability to empathise with ordinary Basotho is legendary.

That is why ordinary Basotho loved Thabane who they fondly referred to as “Uncle Tom”.
But Thabane appears to have squandered all that goodwill when he picked a fight with Lesotho’s farmers over the wool and mohair regulations.

The wool and mohair issue has apparently galvanised the rural masses who marched against the government last week. We are not surprised that Thabane bowed to pressure when he lifted the regulations for the next three months.

That appears too little too late.
The amount of anger against his government is palpable on the streets.

But it is not just the wool and mohair issue that is stoking the anger. It is issues surrounding his wife. It is issues affecting civil servants. It is issues surrounding the brutality of his own police.
We do not doubt that Thabane is a cunning fox. But his problem is that he has now been found out. No one appears to believe him anymore.

That was the vibe we picked after his press conference last Wednesday.
Whatever he promised last week appears too little to assuage the overwhelming anger against his government. The wool and mohair saga will certainly be Thabane’s Waterloo.

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