The ABC must guard against factionalism

The ABC must guard against factionalism

A FEW months ago one would not have imagined the word “factionalism” being used in the same sentence as some of our ruling parties.
When the word “factionalism” became a trending buzzword in social media, it was associated with the Gupta family’s toxic influence on the recalled South African former president Jacob Zuma and also found its way into the ANC’s elective conference.
Some of us could not have imagined anything even remotely close to what was happening in South Africa happening to us here. We still do not believe that it will.

Recent indications however suggest that maybe it is time to start preparing our minds just in case. South African citizens writhed in agony as the Guptas stabbed their nation’s pride with their reckless disregard for the history of South African political struggle.
From the former state president Jacob Zuma down to the lowest ranking government official many fell victim to the hypnotising charm of the Guptas. Greed for easy money turned comrade against comrade. Money in evil hands has such power.

There is always a reason why political organisations are formed. The same is true of ABC. The constant need for coming together for the purpose of fighting a common adversity is part of our human nature. Our shared humanity dictates that every once in a while, depending on the circumstances, we congregate into a unified force in order to deal with a perceived problem in need of solving.

The reasons for the formation of the ABC back in 2006 did not emanate from planet Jupiter. There were real challenges which necessitated the formation of the party then. It was time for change from the stagnancy that had come to define LCD politics under Dr. Mosisili back then.
When the LCD resisted re-invention as personified by Thabane and others, it was time to move on. The move came with the formation of the ABC which marked the first major break-away from the once dominant LCD.

It would be remiss of me not to attribute some of the ABC’s phenomenal gains directly to Tom Thabane. So powerful was his charisma and work ethic that those with whom we worked seemed forever in the shadows as the party grew faster than any other in the history of the country.
Granted the ABC started from a position of relative advantage, but that does in anyway diminish the deserved platitudes heaped on the party’s most visible face: Thabane.

The ABC was formed in parliament in 2006 when seventeen constituency MPs crossed the floor ditching the toxic politics of LCD. So rattled was the LCD that Mosisili called a snap election in 2007 in an effort to halt the wave of huge popularity following the party’s formation.
The party won seventeen constituencies in the 2007 election and by so doing directly challenged the hegemony once held by the mighty LCD almost fifteen years earlier.

Five years later the ABC officially became a government when it formed a coalition with the splintered LCD and the BNP. The LCD further suffered another split during the coalition’s life when then current Minister of Labour Keketso Rantšo broke away to form RCL. She accused Mothetjoa Metsing of dictatorial tendencies.

Oddly enough her own party is on the verge of a split as well having been accused of the same dictatorial tendencies by disgruntled members, some of whom have since taken the party to court. The simmering tensions within the LCD then, characterised by endless disagreements between the secretary general (Metsing) and the party leader then (Mosisili) over the interpretation of the party’s constitution eventually led to the party’s split.
Mosisili went on to lead the new party Democratic Congress, credited as the brainchild of Monyane Moleleki who had loyally served as Mosisili’s deputy for many years. Moleleki now leads the AD after a controversial constitutional court judgement which ruled that the special conference could go ahead despite the party’s constitution clearly indicating that the party leader was answerable to the NEC and not to himself as the court erroneously interpreted.

With twelve constituencies and fourteen PR seats the LCD was able to enter into a coalition government with the ABC. The ABC was a main partner followed by LCD and then BNP.  Thabane was still the most visible personality that huge swathes of the country’s voting population and the world identified with. He was the most visible face of government. Metsing’s overblown ego could not take this. Clashes soon emergedas Metsing felt upstaged in the popularity stakes.

The war of egos between Metsing and Thabane got in the way of government business. This led to the collapse of the government which was dubbed by many as the “the government blessed by God.”  Once again it was Thabane’s charisma that tried but failed to convince SADC mediator, and now SA president Cyril Ramaphosa to focus his attention on Lesotho’s security problems and not rush the country into early elections.

Ramaphosa refused. Following the snap elections, ABC could not form a government as it narrowly failed to meet the required 60 plus 1 threshold in spite of additional numbers from BNP and RCL. Their combined numbers only made fifty five (55) seats, six (6) short to form a government.
The LCD reunited with its former breakaway nemenis, Democratic Congress, and formed a government with five other smaller parties. But that alliance was to suffer a similar fate to that of ABC alliance two years later with catastrophic consequences for the country and the region. Metsing’s dictatorial tendencies coupled with his unbridled greed for power ensured that government’s early demise.

Back in power after the June, 2017 elections, with two army commanders Lt. Gen Maaparankoe Mahao and Lt. Gen Khoantle Motšomotšo and scores of many others killed by rogue army elements, the ABC rebounded in the most spectacular fashion.
The party gained eleven more constituencies improving from forty constituencies won back in 2015. Thabane formed another coalition government but this time around replaced the LCD with the newly-formed AD.

ABC took power amid high expectations, largely as a result of the previously destructive “Khokanyana Phiri” administration. Thabane was expected to make miracles and make them in the shortest space of time. He did not disappoint.
Thabane swiftly restored people’s trust in government by restoring the rule of law. Exiled soldiers were returned home; those falsely implicated in the mutiny plot were released from detention; Metsing is on the run and the elderly also have their pensions increased from M500 to M700.
Factory workers are also soon going to get a boon in their wages. Notably suspects in the callous murder of police constable Mokalekale Khetheng are also behind bars waiting for their day in court.

Metsing’s extradition is also being processed to have him back in the country to face charges over unexplained large deposits made into his bank accounts in 2015.
The good always go with the bad; so goes the saying. There are signs from afar that if we do not take preventive measures we too may fall prey to the toxicity of factionalism and financial greed that have nearly destroyed the soul of the ANC. We have a come a long way to be where we are today.
So many of our members and supporters have fallen in the line of fire to get the ABC back in power. Their personal sacrifices cannot be traded for material gain.

Had things gone our way with the kind of effort we put in the June, 2017 elections we should easily have passed the sixty one mark on our own without any hiccups.

It did not happen. However we are proud with what we have achieved in partnership with our fellow coalition partners who make the tapestry of the 4×4 government. There is need now to be united more than ever before to help secure the gains we have made.
Our propensity to sometimes see our struggle from a very narrow perspective where the “self” is more important than the “all of us” is dangerously regressive. Selfishness is self- destructive.

Our enemies may appear pushed into a tight corner for now but we would be foolish to write them off as a spent force. Many of us are witnesses to how tenacious and determined they can be when they want to return to power. It has happened before; no doubt it can happen again.
One of our enemies’ most trusted weapon of attack is the use of press conferences where they launch scathing attacks against our party and our government.

These days they even use factory workers to fight their battles. Our collective resolve to stand united will eventually wear them down.
My parting shot is: let’s be resolute in our defence of our party and by logical extension our government. We have a lot of political mileage going for us at the moment. Our party has the broad support of large sections of the population.

Let’s ride on this crest wave of popularity with care conscious of how it can easily turn into despair if expectations are not met.
What we need to do is to stop bickering behind one another’s backs trying so hard to pull one another down. We must focus our energies into strengthening our party so that we can ensure a resounding victory in 2022.
Always remember that our party is not owned by a single individual or an elite group who have the monopoly to control it. It is the peoples’ property. It is our ABC.

Rethabile Rathebane

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