Machesetsa victory disputed

Machesetsa victory disputed

MASERU – EIGHT Basotho National Party (BNP) members have filed a lawsuit challenging the controversial election of Machesetsa Mofomobe as party leader.
The court challenge comes as Mofomobe consolidates his grip in the party after succeeding his uncle, Thesele Maseribane, who is now Ambassador to Italy.

He had since been elevated to Small Business Development Minister as part of the BNP’s quota in the coalition government.
The lawsuit however threatens to derail all that and also shove the party into further chaos ahead of the 2022 election from which the party was hoping to make significant gains.
Yet so far it doesn’t appear as if his position is under threat.
The members want the High Court to nullify Mofomobe’s victory and order the party to hold another elective conference within three months.

The crux of their challenge is that the elective conference held in June in Mazenod was marred by violence and serious irregularities that made it impossible to have a free and fair election.
’Mabuang Mazingo, 69, a staunch BNP supporter was shot dead when a gunman opened fire into the packed hall during the conference.
The eight, who appear to be led by one Mohapi Lelosa, argue that the conference should have been suspended after the violence.
They also say apart from the violence, the conference was attended by non-BNP members who were allegedly “prepared” and “coerced” to vote for Mofomobe.

The election process, they say, was “riddled with a litany of unlawful acts and irregularities” that included Mazingo’s killing.
They claim that after the shooting several delegates dispersed but were forced to come back and vote.
It is alleged that after the shooting one Hloloane who was campaigning for Mofomobe “pulled out his gun and announced that whether a person is dead or not Machesetsa (Mofomobe) shall be voted for”.
“The members of BNP voted under fear, duress and trauma,” says the court papers filed this week.
They say the dispute resolution committee did not deal with objections before and after the election.

“The counting of votes was done by the agent of Mr Machesetsa (Mofomobe) and the electoral body as the agents for other contestants were not allowed to be inside from when voting started up to the point of voting.”
“The counting of votes was done in the absence of the agents for the majority of contestants who had run away from the shooting gun.”
The members allege that most of the delegates who voted at the conference did not have BNP membership cards.

“The people who are not members of BNP ended up participating in the constituency elections and ultimately participated in the leadership conference to vote for the leader of BNP after the valid constituencies’ delegates were rejected and invalid delegates were accepted.”
Objections from more than 30 BNP members were ignored, they say.
They also list several constituencies where the selection of delegates was flawed.

In one constituency, they claim, potential delegates were not requested to produce membership cards before voting.
In another, the election date was allegedly changed without notifying the members.
In one constituency, the electoral officer was someone who had publicly declared his support for Mofomobe.
The papers also cite other candidates who contested in the election, the BNP’s executive committee as well as the electoral commission of the elective conference.

Also cited are Sofonia Shale and his Development for Peace Education who helped conduct the election.
This is not the first time that Mofomobe has been accused of winning a sullied election.
His victory against Joang Molapo for the deputy leader’s position was also marred by controversy.

Staff Reporter

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