ABC must pick a unifier

ABC must pick a unifier

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, reeling from massive internal pressure, told an expectant nation last Friday that he now intends to step down from power by the end of July or earlier.
That announcement did little to calm down the jitters of a nation that wants to see his back as soon as yesterday.
Pressure has been slowly building up particularly after the Prime Minister and his wife, ’Maesaiah Thabane, were implicated in the gruesome murder of Lipolelo Thabane in June 2017.

Thabane told the nation that he was confident that his “party and Parliament will come up with a suitable candidate who will carry the mantle . . . and lead Lesotho to lasting peace, stability and prosperity”.
While Thabane’s “good wishes” for Lesotho were all in order, the stark reality on the ground is that he is leaving his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party deeply divided over the issue of a successor.
The cracks which the party had painstakingly tried to paper over in the last two months have not healed. The party is still split into two major factions over who succeeds Thabane.

The ABC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) is rallying behind party chairman Samuel Rapapa, a key cog in the Professor Nqosa Mahao faction while the Thabane group is rooting for Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro.
The NEC argues that Rapapa must take over from Thabane by virtue of being the most senior party official in Parliament while the Thabane camp believes Majoro has the intellectual gravitas to haul Lesotho out of the current economic quagmire.

Both groups have compelling arguments. But to preserve the unity of the party, the leadership must now have a meeting of minds to pick a compromise candidate who will unify the two factions.
Who that candidate is, we shall leave that debate to the party. Unless they pick such a compromise candidate, the ABC looks likely to euthanise itself politically.

The leadership of the two factions must quickly realize that the party now stands at a crossroad. Unless they act swiftly they are likely to inflict massive damage on themselves and weaken their own party.
But we are not surprised that matters have turned this way in the ABC. The party, like most other political formations in Lesotho, has always been beholden to the ‘big man’ syndrome that has afflicted African politics.
Even when the signs that Thabane’s biological clock was slowly ticking away, the party simply refused to entertain the idea that he would soon need to be replaced, ravished by old age.
Yet that kind of open debate was almost viewed as sacrilegious. In fact it was “treasonous” to even think of a successor within the ABC. There was no robust debate over the succession issue. The result is that those who were interested could only speak in muffled tones.

The ABC is now paying a high price for adopting such a stance.
Instead of simply picking his successor for a seamless transition, the party now finds itself on the verge of implosion. That is an indictment on Thabane himself for failing to encourage and promote debate over his successor.
In our humble opinion, this conversation over Thabane’s successor has come too late. The hurried discussions over who should succeed Thabane will most likely see the ABC struggling to find an individual who will best represent the party’s interests and satisfy the demands of all sides.

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