Yesterday’s man

Yesterday’s man

THE ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s decision to make Thomas Thabane the face of the party for next year’s general elections has been met with utter bewilderment from Basotho.

The decision which was confirmed by the party’s powerful yet divided National Executive Committee (NEC) was a subtle admission that it had failed to come up with an acceptable successor to both factions.
The two factions within the ABC remain bitterly divided over who should take over from Thabane. In an attempt to forestall what was likely to be a certain split, the factions have now agreed to coalesce around Thabane.
But that decision could come back to haunt the ABC.

By failing to come up with a successor, the ABC has merely kicked the can down the road. Sooner or later, the party will still need to grapple with that question of a successor.
In the meantime, Thabane, who will be 83 next year, will be the face of the ABC in the elections. We would like to believe that will present a new set of challenges for the party. At 83, Thabane is way past his sell-by date, politically. The biological clock has run its course and we doubt if he will have the stamina to carry him through what is likely to be a gruelling election race.

Instead of burdening the grand old man of Lesotho politics, the ABC should coalesce around a much younger, sellable candidate for 2022. We would like to believe that the party is not shorn of talent in those aspects.
Besides his advanced age, Thabane is damaged goods politically. This is a former Prime Minister who has a murder charge hanging over his head.
As long as that case involving Lipolelo Thabane has not been successfully defended in a court of law, Thabane remains a suspect.

Thabane will need to clear his name in a court of law if voters are to believe him again. Without that court process, he will remain heavily connected to the Lipolelo murder.
That case will likely cost the ABC a few votes.

It is on the basis of these two issues that significant sections of Basotho society are questioning the logic of dragging Thabane to be the face of the party in next year’s elections.
There is no doubt that the ABC faces its greatest electoral test next year. Based on its track record since it was swept into power in 2017, voters are likely to punish the party at the polls unless it uses the remaining few months to make drastic improvements on service delivery.

The general sentiment we are picking is that the ABC squandered the goodwill it had from voters through constant squabbling.
Instead of remaining true to its values, the party sold its soul for a plate of soup when it introduced the controversial and much loathed Wool and Mohair Regulations in 2018.

The ’Maesiah Thabane debacle will also be a key electoral issue. There are voters who argue they will never trust the ABC again for catapulting an abrasive woman at the centre of our national politics.
These are some of the issues the ABC must grapple with as we edge closer to the elections. The party needs to craft a new set of messages to appeal to Basotho.

Fresh promises tied to tired electoral promises of fighting hunger and rolling back poverty might not wash this time around. They would have been in power for the past five years and they need to give Basotho hope that they are the right people to fix what is ailing Lesotho.

We do not believe Thabane is the man to drive that agenda. The reasons are clear: he is yesterday’s man. He must be gently eased into quiet retirement.

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