Drama at Thabane rally

Drama at Thabane rally

MASERU – AN All Basotho Convention (ABC) rally in ’Makhoroana constituency last Sunday almost descended into violence in yet another clear indication that all is not well within the rank and file of the ruling party. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was the keynote speaker at the rally which was held at the foothills of ’Makhoroana constituency in Berea.
Bodyguards of Thabane and some government ministers had to quickly produce assault rifles as the squabbles threatened to boil over into open violence.
Tensions rose after a faction of the famo music group, Terene, insulted Police Minister ’Mampho Mokhele’s driver Sarele Sello.
The Terene music group is a fierce supporter of Thabane and his ABC party.

Sello, popularly known as Lehlanya, was for years seen as the right-hand man of the leader of the Terene group, Rethabile Mokete.
But now a faction of the famo group wants Sello out. They accuse him of stocking divisions within the Terene group and leading a faction that is close to Cabinet ministers.
A Terene supporter, only identified as Tšehlana, did not at first mention Lehlanya by name. But when he said some of these people causing divisions were driving for ministers, Lehlanya stood up to object.

Another man, whom we could not identify, then stood up and confronted Lehlanya telling him that “he could urinate on him,” a Sesotho expression that shows total contempt for an individual.
Then all hell broke loose. A large group of Terene supporters stood up and egged on their “man” and when some security marshals tried to approach him they quickly formed a circle around him to protect their man.

Sensing danger, Thabane’s and some ministers’ bodyguards rushed to their cars and came back with their rifles, ready to shoot.
Supporters of the Terene boss, Rethabile Mokete, who is also known as Mosotho Chakela, demanded answers from Thabane why their leader was still not back in Lesotho.
Speaking on their behalf, Tšehlana wanted to know why Thabane was not facilitating a safe passage for Chakela back into the country.
When Thabane came back home from exile in South Africa to prepare for the elections last year, Chakela also came back home but left after Thabane won the election saying he no longer felt safe in Lesotho.

Earlier this year, Chakela told his supporters in an interview with a local radio station that he felt unsafe.
He said he would therefore not come back to Lesotho.
Since then the relationship between Terene and the ABC has cooled off.

Tšehlana said when every leader comes back to Lesotho, they leave their leader at the border because he does not feel safe in Lesotho.
The Terene group has over the last 12 years been a fierce supporter of Thabane and his ABC party. The relationship dates back to October 2006 when the ABC was formed.
That perhaps explains why the Terene group feels so hard-done by the Thabane government’s failure to bring back home their leader.
Tšehlana told a local radio station on Tuesday that the faction led by Lehlanya has been on a “killing spree” recently, murdering loyal members of the Chakela group.
He said Lehlanya was harbouring a faction of young men who “kill our people in the Terene faction”.
“I appeal to Ntate Lehlanya to talk to members of his faction to stop killing Terene members,” he said.
Tšehlana said he is on a hit list of the Lehlanya camp.

Meanwhile, Lehlanya told thepost that he has started a new group called Ha e Tlale Hlanyisa, which he said still wears yellow T-shirts.
“It came after I realised that I no longer had peace in the Terene group which I loved and have been part of it since its inception,” Lehlanya said.
“It took me a long time to finally decide to break away with Terene. It was never an easy thing,” he said.
“You will understand that some people’s lives are affected by this decision.”

Responding to Tšehlana’s accusations, Lehlanya said if he had information of any criminal activity he took part in “he is free to report it to the police”.
“This country has police and that is the first place he could have gone to instead of talking on radios,” he said.
Lehlanya said he was aware that there are hit men in Terene who were supposed to have killed him on Sunday on his way from the ABC rally.
“If anything happens to me, the police should look no further than among Terene members,” he said.

“I don’t want to talk about any name in the Terene membership lest they misinterpret what I will be saying about them.”
“You too do not say anything about their names in your writing because I have not mentioned them by names,” he said.
Lehlanya said his nephew was killed in South Africa by members of Terene.

Lehlanya said differences between him and other members of Terene came after he was given a job as Mokhele’s driver last year.
“As a minister’s driver, I have strict rules that I do not answer phones while driving or in her presence. So, when I did not answer their phones they accused me of having turned my back on them,” he said.

“They could not understand when I told them so. However, I would call them back when I was no longer in the minister’s presence or when I was not driving.”
The ABC, particularly Thabane and Police Minister Mokhele, have always had warm relations with Terene even before 2006 when the ABC was established.
At that time Mokhele was police commander in Mafeteng district at a time when Terene was in a fierce war with a group called Fito, which was led by the late Lephatšoe Lebajoa, who was known as Selomo.

Thabane was Police Minister in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)-led government. Thabane and Mokhele joined hands to unite the two warring groups and when the ABC was formed in 2006 the two groups became its major supporters.
Their leaders, Chakela and Selomo, became unofficial part of the party leadership and slogans of their groups (Ha e tlale Terene and Fito ha e Tlanngoe) were shouted together with the ABC’s La Chaba.

Selomo and Chakela were always given a platform to address the party followers during Thabane’s own rallies.
It is through their link that the ABC, which was previously popular in towns only, got a grip of the rural populations especially men who underwent initiation.
Famo music is followed mostly by initiated men and rural people.

Staff Reporter

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