Thabane defiant

Thabane defiant

MASERU-PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane says he remains firmly in charge of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) despite the storm of change that hit the party’s executive committee over the weekend.
Prior to the conference Thabane seemed to favour the previous committee that constituted what some party insiders say was the heart and soul of what they labelled the State House faction.

That faction suffered a crushing defeat at the elective conference that was fraught with some ugly scenes that only provided evidence of the deep factionalism in the party.
In comes a committee led by Professor Nqosa Mahao, the man Thabane once described in unflattering terms and called a Johnny-come-lately from the Popular Front for Democracy. Prof Mahao’s thumping victory came after a grueling court battle that twice went as far as the Court of Appeal as the national executive tried to block his bid to contest the deputy leader’s position.

With Prof Mahao now leading the new committee, there have been murmurs that Thabane could have lost his grip on the party after a faction he allegedly favoured lost to the one led by a person her seemingly loathes.
There was speculation last night that the losing faction was plotting a court challenge to the decision.
There were also rumours that some senior officials within the losing faction were trying to persuade Thabane to disregard the committee or completely cut ties with the ABC and form a new party.

Last night several ABC insiders who confirmed throwing their lot with the outgoing committee told thepost that they don’t believe that Thabane could work with the new committee given the animosity between Prof Mahao and Thabane.

But in an interview with thepost Thabane said he remains in charge of the party and is ready to move forward with the new committee.
Thabane said the “ABC supporters have decided and there is no way that we could undo what has been decided by the majority”.

He said it is normal that after every election there “will always be a side that is not content with the results”.
Thabane said by last night he had not received “any legitimate complaints that could derail his party”.
“If there are a few people who are not happy with the result that does not imply that the whole party is not happy.”
“If there are any queries they should be brought to the fore so that they could be solved,” Thabane said, adding that “as far as I know there are no factions in the party”.

But party insiders described the situation as tense and combustible.
“This victory has angered many including some who are very close to the leader himself. They want to fight back,” said a senior party official who did not contest the election but said he was rooting for Prof Mahao.
Newly elected ABC publicist, Montoeli Masoetsa, said he is confident that Thabane has no problem with the new committee and has accepted the result.

The problem, he said, is “those with some ministers who are thieves who have surrounded themselves with Thabane”.
“These know that once the committee changes they would have to face the music,” Masoetsa said.
Prof Mahao said he could not comment until the results are officially confirmed.
thepost was unable to speak to the incoming secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele. It is however understood that he has since submitted the conference’s report to Thabane.
The new committee will have a press conference today to introduce itself to the public and party members.
Delegates from the 80 constituencies started arriving at Lehakoe Recreational Centre on Friday but the voting process started in the wee hours of Saturday.

Brandishing a Court of Appeal judgement Prof Mahao forced the executive committee to manually add his name to the ballot paper. There was a heavy police presence during the election.
Some ABC members, particularly youths, tried to cause chaos during the election but they were quickly brought to order by the police.
They argued that the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), which was facilitating the election process, had no business being there.

Some even threatened to take away the ballot boxes.
For the deputy leadership Mahao won 671 votes against Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s with 524.
Former deputy leader Prince Maliehe got 236 and former party chairman Motlohi Maliehe managed 89.
Samuel Rapapa, Mosalemane MP, is the new chairperson after he garnered 788 votes to beat followed Kemiso Mosenene who got 359.

Defence Minister Tefo Mapesela came a distant third with 225 but was better than Lehlohonolo Moramotse’s 61.
Minister of Law, Lebohang Hlaele, is now the secretary general after defeating Energy Minister Samonyane Ntsekele who was the incumbent. Hlaele had been deputy secretary general.
Late Monday afternoon the police ordered the ABC to leave Lehakoe because their permit had expired.
They gave the party 15 minutes to leave the hall.

At that time results for four positions were still outstanding.
The ballot papers were then taken by the LCN for safekeeping.
The counting later continued at the Transformation Resource Centre on Tuesday.

Nkheli Liphoto & Majara Molupe

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