Bloody clashes rock ABC

Bloody clashes rock ABC

MASERU – IT was supposed to have been a routine election to select new members to run the affairs of Lithabaneng constituency in Maseru.
But all hell broke loose on Sunday leaving one man nursing a serious knife wound.
Limamela Ntšeli, 43, was stabbed with a knife twice behind his left arm during the bloody skirmishes that rocked the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.

Ntšeli was rushed to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru.
Several others sustained minor injuries during the disturbances.
The scale of the violence has left the party’s supporters shocked and extremely traumatised.

The Lithabaneng MP, Social Development Minister ’Matebatso Doti is said to be locked in a fierce tussle for the control of the constituency with Montoeli Masoetsa. Masoetsa is said to be angling to replace Doti as the MP in the next election.

As the mob charged at the minister, Doti’s bodyguards were forced to fire warning shots to disperse the violent mob that was baying for the minister’s blood. The crowd also threw stones at Doti.
She however escaped unhurt during the commotion. Doti had to be escorted out of the conference hall by heavily armed police officers from Thamae Police Station.

“My bodyguards say they were afraid that I would be injured,” Doti told thepost on Monday.
“But as trained men they managed to disperse the angry mob and got me out to safety,” she said.
“My worry was that the government car would be stoned but luckily the police arrived just in time.”

Ntšeli told thepost that he is just an ordinary member of the ABC who found himself caught up in a factional war. He said he had come to observe the election process when the altercation ensued.
He said he instinctively jumped in to protect a man who was being attacked with “all sorts of things” when the mob pounced on him, stabbing him twice on the left arm.

He says he also sustained multiple wounds around his head and face.
“The bad wounds are the ones behind my arm,” he said.
Ntšeli declined to comment more on other issues pertaining to the bloody incident saying doing so “might jeopardise my case”.

He said one woman from the same constituency was stabbed on the forehead with a sharp object.
The woman was treated as an outpatient and discharged.
Ntšeli said their constituency had since issued a directive ordering members not to discuss their differences in public.

Incessant marathon disputes within the ABC in Lithabaneng constituency have simmered for years.
Sources within the ABC in the constituency told thepost that there are serious factions within the party.
There is a serious battle for the leadership of the party in the constituency.

Lebohang Karala, who is a councillor for Lithabaneng MMC11, told thepost that their differences within the party date as far back as 2015.
He conceded to the fact that there are two factions within the ABC in Lithabaneng constituency.
He said by virtue of being the councillor, he automatically becomes a committee member of the constituency.
Karala said there is a faction that supports Doti while another is backing Masoetsa.

He said this is the third time that the constituency election had to be abandoned.
Asked what triggered the furore on Sunday, Karala said there are certain provisions within the ABC that had been breached by members in the constituency.

He said there are some ABC members who took the party to court and this is inconsistent with the ABC rules and regulations.
He said their constitution clearly states that their differences should be solved within their party structures.
Karala said the ABC National Executive Committee (NEC) had delegated someone to oversee the election process.
He said that delegate did not have the required credentials to do so.

“We told him that the election could not proceed because certain constitutional provisions had been flouted,” he said.
But he insisted that the voting process should continue.
The councillor said even the police indicated that the election process could not continue because of the volatile situation.
“The situation grew tense every given moment,” Karala said.

The ABC members in attendance exchanged blows, with others agreeing to hold the election while the other group declined to proceed with the voting.
Karala said he was also injured during the fight, although his wounds were minor.
He said they were not anticipating any fight and had been caught off-guard.
Karala said he is “associated with the faction that is against Doti”.

Senior Superintendent Mochekoane Ntšela, the officer commanding Maseru urban, said no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
He said as soon as they have complainants, they will proceed with the cases.
Doti said her good relations with Masoetsa went sour after he lost votes to her in primary elections last year.

Masoetsa was also running for the position of the party candidate in the constituency for the 2017 national election.
“He lost and the Lithabaneng people voted for me. I could see that his supporters were not happy with the results,” Doti said.
“I thought it was just an election fever that would quickly go away but some people for no known reasons kept it alive.”
She said Karala seemed to lead a faction supporting Masoetsa and very soon he started not attending her public meetings despite the fact that she is the constituency MP.

“I started attending the MCC 11 functions with the councillor for MCC 12 because the MCC 11 councillor (Karala) was not supporting me,” she said.
She said Karala, who was the constituency chairman, missed several committee meetings and “according to our rules he had to be struck off and this did not sit well with a number of his followers”.

Doti said two branches of the constituency, Lithabaneng and Ha-Matala, have a large pool of supporters backing Karala and Masoetsa.
Lithabaneng constituency has 12 branches.
Yesterday the ABC’s national executive committee held a meeting with the two factions to resolve the dispute.

Majara Molupe

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