Minister blasts Masoetsa

Minister blasts Masoetsa

MASERU-THE All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa has been accused of attending a constituency meeting without an invitation.

Finance Minister Thabo Sofonea says Masoetsa insisted on being present at the meeting he had in Thaba Bosiu constituency on Sunday.
Sofonea said the meeting was for the constituency members only but he came uninvited after claiming that he had permission from the leadership to attend.

He said only later did he realise that Masoetsa’s presence was not approved by the national executive committee.
Sofonea said the meeting had been called to discuss issues in the ABC, including former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s demand that the party’s executive committee should remove Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro as premier.

He said said Masoetsa called him on Sunday supposedly to wish him well for the New Year. The minister said the conversation quickly changed when Masoetsa said he wanted to brief him on what to say at the meeting.
“He said he wanted to give us their side as the committee,” Sofonea said.
He said Masoetsa then said he wanted to be part of the meeting and the party’s secretary general Lebohang Hlaele and other executive committee members had approved his attendance.

Sofonea said he approved that Masoetsa should speak at the meeting because he thought he was acting on the instructions from the national committee.
He said he realised that Masoetsa had a sinister agenda when he started talking about Thabane’s push against Majoro.
Sofonea said Masoetsa also said the executive committee would soon discuss Majoro’s fate.

He said Masoetsa appeared to be attacking the prime minister using the same allegations that Thabane had used at the executive committee’s meeting a few days earlier.
Sofonea said Masoetsa claimed that Majoro had ordered ABC MPs and Ambassadors to stop paying their subscription fees to the party.
He claimed that Masoetsa also told the meeting that Majoro once said ABC members should not be hired in government.

Sofonea said after his briefing the constituency members asked Masoetsa a few questions but made it clear that he was not supposed to be at the meeting.
The Finance Minister now says he wants to make it clear that he didn’t invite Masoetsa to the meeting and doesn’t share his views about Majoro.
“I also wanted to cleanse myself that I did not invite him to the constituency to attack the prime minister like that,” Sofonea said.

Amongst other critical issues that he mentioned, Sofonea said as a cabinet minister and and the ABC caucus MPs he wasn’t privy to Masoetsa’s allegations against the prime minister.
Masoetsa said it is true that he called Sofonea to wish him well for the New Year. He said it was during that call that the minister told him about the meeting in Thaba Bosiu.

He said at no point did he lie his way into the meeting.
Masoetsa said the fact that he was given a platform to speak shows that he was invited to the meeting.
Masoetsa said the allegations that he tricked his way to the meeting were being peddled by people who want to tarnish his image.
These people, he said, were trying to give an impression that he is Hlaele’s “lap- dog”.
“I am nobody’s lapdog,” Masoetsa said.

He said there is a group of people who “confuse difference in opinion to fighting”.
And in what appears to be a confirmation that he is part of the camp pushing for Majoro’s removal, Masoetsa said the party’s cconstitution “allows them to control every member of the party regardless of their position”.

That seems to suggest that the executive committee had power to either recall or censure the prime minister.
“I am the leader and Majoro is also a leader,” Masoetsa said.
The tiff between Sofonea and Masoetsa is only one of the many subplots of the fights within the ABC.
At its core is the struggle for the party leadership.

Thabane has left the government but appears hell-bent on holding on to the party leadership.
His faction remains strong and continues to pile pressure on Majoro.
The divisions in the ABC could also have serious implications on the coalition government it leads. The government already appears shaky because of the tension between the partners.

Nkheli Liphoto

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