Race for ABC deputy hots up

Race for ABC deputy hots up

MASERU – THE succession race in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) has opened ahead of the party’s elective conference set for January next year. Although leader Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is not going to be challenged whoever becomes his deputy will have a considerable edge in what is likely to be a hotly contested battle to succeed him. Nearing 80 Thabane is widely expected not to contest in the next national election and there are people who think having reached the twilight of his political career the leader is ready to pass on the baton. Thabane is on record as saying the ABC must start looking for ideal candidates to fill senior positions in the party.

With nine months to go to what will be a crucial conference, the lobbying for the deputy leader’s position has intensified. The party is expected to issue a circular in the next few months, possibly in September, to open the campaign. Four names have been bandied around for the deputy leader’s position. Maliehe Prince Maliehe, interim deputy leader and Teyateyaneng MP, is being touted to take the position in a substantive capacity. Maliehe was appointed by the National Executive Committee in January after being suggested by Thabane at a time when the jostling for the position was threatening to destabilise the party.

The party had gone for 16 months without a deputy leader after the suspension of Tlali Khasu in September 2016. Maliehe was not picking his phone when contacted for comment last night. Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s name has also been mentioned in connection with the position. The Thetsane MP said he is aware his name has been mentioned for the position “on social media and other platforms” not related to party structures. “That is to say there has been informal talk on the subject but I have not been approached on the matter either formally or informally,” Majoro said. “The point is that I am unable to take a position on something that is just informal talk. What I can say is that I will only think about or consider such an issue when there is something on the table.”

Tourism Minister Motlohi Maliehe could also be in the running, judging by the lobbying that has been happening. Minister Maliehe told thepost this week that he had been approached by “some people” who said they wanted him to contest the position. “If people suggest your name in connection with such a position it means they have confidence in you,” Minister Maliehe said. “My understanding is that the people have a choice to decide who should take up positions in the party and if they choose me then I will accept.” “I have been in politics for more than 40 years. I am aware there are people pushing for me and they have approached me,” he said.

National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao could also be in the running. He too told thepost last night that he has been approached by people who are lobbying for him. “Yes there is that talk but at the moment it remains just talk,” Professor Mahao said. Whoever becomes deputy leader is likely to become leader when Thabane steps down. And if this coalition government lasts the five-year term he could have a shot at becoming prime minister. The discussion on who succeeds Thabane has thus far been avoided in public. That is in keeping with Lesotho’s political culture of skirting the succession issue out of perceived respect for the leader and fear of political repercussions.

Staff Reporter

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