The gloves are off in ABC

The gloves are off in ABC

MASERU – GLOVES are off and the brawl is now in full swing.
The All Basotho Convention (ABC) factions no longer clutch for ‘politically correct’ platitudes to describe what is happening in their party.
Gone are the days when they would say “the party is united”, “there are no factions in the party” and “they are just differences of opinion”.

This time they are openly hurling salvos at each other. That this is now a full-fledged war was clear when the new but disputed ABC Secretary General, Lebohang Hlaele, took to the podium at a Berea rally last Sunday.
Hlaele aimed his barrages at Samonyane Ntsekele, who was voted out as secretary general but is refusing to relinquish power because he says the election was stolen.
He clings on to the position, thanks to a temporary court order that bars the new executive committee from taking over until the lawsuit over the disputed election is finalised.

As he was speaking, Thabane was addressing an equally well-attended rally in Likhoele.
Ntsekele and his faction had spared no expenses to get the numbers to the rally, hiring nearly 40 buses to ferry people from other constituencies and slaughtering several beasts to feed them.
That seemed to rail Hlaele who told the rally that he was surprised that Ntsekele and his faction had to hire buses to collect people from other constituencies.
The rally in Likhoele, he thundered, was “supposed to be attended by nearby constituencies not the whole country with countless buses”.

Hlaele said after the election Ntsekele initially said he accepts the results but later changed tact. He said the following day Ntsekele told him that he was at peace with the results but it was Thabane who did not accept them.
In an apparent reference to Ntsekele’s tenure, Hlaele said the secretary general is the engine of the party.
“If he has common cold the whole party will be infected and that is why we took him out because he had common cold,” Hlaele said.

He said the ABC is teeming with brownnosers who pretend to like the leader, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, because they want positions and benefits.
“They just love him because he is the leader and they will get something from him. They love him as the Prime Minister because they want benefits.”

Hlaele said such people “say they love and support Thabane as if there are other members who do the opposite”.
“These seem to love Thabane more than his children and they sympathize with him more than his children.”
He said Thabane’s status as prime minister and party leader are temporary.
“Let us watch and see what will happen when the two are over.”
Hlaele said Thabane, went to Likhoele because the former committee “led him to believe that Professor Nqosa Mahao would do him harm.”

Professor Mahao was elected deputy leader after a gruelling court battle that went all the way to the Court of Appeal. This was after Ntsekele’s committee tried to block his candidature on allegations that he is too new in the party to contest for any position in the national committee.
The party is now divided between those who support Professor Mahao’s new committee and Ntsekele’s outgoing committee.

Thabane has not candidly declared his allegiance but his stinging attack on Professor Mahao in the run-up to the election and presence at the rally organised by Ntsekele’s camp has all but confirmed his dog in the fight.
Now it looks like a battle for the heart and soul of the party pitting a revered founder at the end of his illustrious career and a young professor whose political star is shining bright.

Hlaele said Prof Mahao is being attacked for allegedly winning the election through a court order.
“No, he went to the elections with the court order but he did not win with it. He was elected by the ABC members.”
He said ABC members should educate other members that they belong to the ABC, not individuals.
“We have two rallies because others are members of Hlaele while others are members of Ntsekele,” he lamented.
Hlaele said when he leaves the ABC no one should follow him because he is not a political party.
“You should follow the party not individuals,” Hlaele warned.

At the same rally, Professor Mahao rattled out numbers that illustrate the sorry state of Lesotho’s economy.
He said research shows that Lesotho ranked number 8 among countries that have the widest gap between the rich and the poor.
He said the research also shows that 57 percent of Basotho live in abject poverty.
“Research says our education is ruined until we rank number 14 out of the SADC countries and you can see now,” he said.
Lesotho is number 10 of the world’s most violent countries.
“Where is our sympathy to the Basotho nation,” he quipped.

The Berea MP, Motlatsi Maqelepo, told the same rally that events in the ABC have shown that freedom is expensive.
Maqelepo said he was wrong to think that the ABC had brought financial freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of association.
I see we have not yet started, he said.
“If those countless buses (to the Likhoele rally) are paid with Basotho taxes just because Berea is holding a rally you should know that we need to fight for true freedom of Basotho,” Maqelepo said.

Maqelepo said the problem with the country is that we have inexperienced people who are ministers.
“We have people like Rapapa (Tsoinyane Rapapa, Mosalemane MP) who are not given any position?”
He said they elected Prof Mahao to help Thabane and not to dislodge him.
The MP also accused government officials of being bribed to dish out tenders to the Chinese.

Rapapa told the rally that he was shocked to see gun-wielding guards when he arrived at the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s electoral conference at Lehakoe Recreational Centre.
He said he wondered if the guns were licenced and who had bought the new uniforms for the guards.
Rapapa said he is surprised that Ntsekele is no longer talking about numbers but about protecting the leader.
“We thank you Ntsekele, protect our leader but there is a book I am reading which is called the ‘Graceless fall of Robert Mugabe’,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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