ABC split inevitable!

ABC split inevitable!

THERE is no doubt that the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party is now on a downward trajectory. Will there be a tipping point when a split becomes inevitable? What if this is just a rough patch? How do we know when to finally throw in the towel on a political party you invested your time, energy and resources?
Since the elective conference that was held on February 1-2, 2019, irrationality and stupidity have been manifested within the ABC when the will of its members was taken hostage by the leader and his cronies.
The circus has now gone on for over six months. This has cost our economy, the judiciary, the government and state institutions heavily. Our country is suffering because of ABC factions. An ABC split would now appear to be in the best interests of everyone concerned.
I have over the years been a member of several political factions within the congress movement myself. My understanding is that the goals of factions could include control of the party for patronage purposes.
I have witnessed and experienced several formations of splinter parties within the congress movement. It usually starts with factionalism. The formation of a splinter is an outcome of a process that is reached only after several stages.

The first stage is dissent. This is a phase during which dissident party members start to organise around a cause or during which an already existent faction becomes disappointed with the party leadership’s policies and strategies.
The second phase is intraparty conflict. This is the phase where dissent is manifested in the form of an exit or voice. The final stage is the departure. This is when the dissatisfied dissidents decide on their final exit strategy.
Our political history has been populated with the frequent emergence of new parties due to factionalism. Since the 1993 elections, various splinters and few genuinely new parties have emerged to compete with the established parties for power.
It appears to me that conflicts within established parties resulted in the entrance of splinter parties as new competitors. The majority of parties that gained representation in the National Assembly in 2017 were splinter parties.

For instance, the National Independent Party (NIP) split from Basotho National Party (BNP) in 1993. The Lesotho Congress Party (LCD) split from the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) in 1997. The All Basotho Convention (ABC) split from the LCD in 2006.
The Democratic Congress split from LCD in 2012 while the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) split from LCD in 2015. The Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL) split from the BNP in 2016. The Alliance of Democrats (AD) split from the DC in 2017 and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) split from the LCD in 2017.
There are only three established parties that stood for elections in 1965 and are still represented in the current parliament, namely the BCP, BNP and Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).
The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) is one of the few genuine parties that was formed to compete with the established parties for winning office. It was formed because of a genuine cause and not a leadership struggle that resulted in a splinter.

It seems that factionalism is a prerequisite for party splits but not all factionalised parties split. In other instances MPs might switch to established parties but not all dissatisfied legislators form splinter parties.
However the nation has suffered heavily because of the ABC factions. The government’s focus is no longer on service delivery. We now have the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament playing factional politics week in and week out.
So you will agree with me that the ABC is in much greater peril than its leaders or supporters recognise. The tragic part is that the party has no plan to save itself. The ABC must split so that its leader, Thomas Thabane, can refocus if he remains with the majority of MPs in Parliament.
Otherwise Thabane has no option but to take us for early elections. It is a fact that the ABC is enmeshed in factional conflict. The party leadership is taking sides with the group that has always controlled resources within the party.
The newly elected committee is seen as a threat to the establishment. It has therefore aligned itself with those who were previously disadvantaged.
The two factions within the ABC already have characteristics of separate political parties. A political party is voluntary and has collaborative devices for mutual gain that attract politicians, activists and the party members. It appears to me that both factions have attracted politicians, activists and voters.
Any political formation must have these three incentives: party members, activists and leaders. Party members are mainly motivated by solidarity and purposive incentives such as promises for future policy.
The Thabane faction has remained with those that still believe that the old promises or messages are relevant while the Prof Nqosa Mahao faction has attracted those whose hearts were broken by Thabane for failing to practise what he preached.

On the other hand activists are the party’s small minority which continually participates and whose activities enable the organisation to function. They supply the voluntary labour and funds required for the party to carry out its functions.
For the last six months radio call in programmes have been dominated by these activists and newspaper headlines have always been about the two factions.
Party leaders are those that are willing to internalise the collective interests of the party and monitor their fellow party members and to punish those who defect. These two factions have been having separate administrations in the past seven months and separate political rallies.
Members from both factions seem to share a sense of common identity and common purpose and are organised to act collectively.
This has seen the Mahao faction declaring that it no longer supports the government of Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane. They have begun to threaten Thabane’s hopes of ending his current term. Thabane has never finished a term in office and I bet he will never finish this term.
So if Mahao’s faction no longer has confidence in the Prime Minister, who is the current leader of ABC, why are they still holding on to the ABC? They should take over the ABC and force the leader to form a new party or form their own party and leave the party with the ABC.

I have no problem with these two factions. The problem that I have is that this factionalism has paralysed the state institutions. The ABC and it’s coalition partners have run a rudderless, inept and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to Basotho. Things only got worse after the elective conference of January 2019.
This week on the 12th August 2019, the Speaker of Parliament read the Standing Order he formulated in terms of Standing Order number 110 and the motion to suspend subjection of the National Reform Authority Bill to committee Standing Orders.
The opposition called for division, meaning members of the house would vote on the motion. The government lost so the Bill stands referred to the portfolio committee. Immediately thereafter the Speaker adjourned the House sine die without using any Standing Order.
The troubles in the ABC political party are raising real concerns that the political chess games are affecting accountability, stability in the government and service delivery for Basotho.
According to the circular #11 of 2019 that was issued on the 9th August 2019 the National Executive Committee of the ABC has now co-opted Dr Majoro as the Deputy Leader of the ABC. This fight does not seem to be coming to an end.
This is a serious state of affairs. It is obvious that the factions within the ABC cannot work together. They are failing to pass resolutions and agreeing on developmental priorities.
Once governance stagnates, the government cannot function effectively. This in turn affects its ability to provide services. When the ABC party becomes the battleground for political theatre, it is the ordinary citizens who will suffer.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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