BNP rallies behind ’Maseribane

BNP rallies behind ’Maseribane

MASERU – THE Basotho National Party (BNP) has fiercely defended its leader, Chief Thesele ’Maseribane, following damaging allegations that he received a “hefty donation” in exchange for facilitating a mining licence to a British tycoon. A video clip that is trending on social media shows ‘Maseribane being grilled by a British journalist over his links to a UK based tycoon Barran Banks. Banks, who runs multi-million dollar businesses in the UK, transferred some cash to ‘Maseribane’s personal account.

The journalist asked Chief ’Maseribane if the amount transferred to his account was a bribe to grant Banks a prospecting license in Lesotho, a charge the minister denied.
The money was transferred when Chief ’Maseribane was still the Minister of Gender.
The video has gone viral in the country prompting people to raise questions about whether ’Maseribane is still fit to remain as party leader.
Yesterday, the BNP put in a fierce defence of its leader.

The party said the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is free to investigate ’Maseribane if it suspects any wrongdoing.
The BNP spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe, said the party was aware of the movement of the cash and that their leader had declared the donation to the party.
He said Banks is a personal friend of Chief ’Maseribane and not a friend of the party.

Mofomobe said Banks came to Lesotho in 2015 and attended the BNP’s rally.
He said the money that was given to the party has all been accounted for.

He said there is no one who has complained that Banks has secured the licence to mine in Lesotho.
’Malefa Mapheleba, a die-heart BNP supporter, said there was nothing wrong with the money being transferred to their leader’s personal account.
She said she knows Chief ’Maseribane’s relationship with Banks which started a long time ago.

She said the money that was transferred to their leader’s account has been used to promote their party.
Mapheleba said the money was used to buy BNP promotional materials and party attire. It was also used to transport party supporters to rallies.
She maintained that if there are people who suspect that the money was fraudulently transferred to their leader’s account, the DCEO is free to investigate him.

She said she finds no wrong even if Banks asked her leader to help him secure a prospecting licence in the country.
Mapheleba said it is the duty of every Cabinet Minister to look for investors to come to Lesotho.

She said if Chief ’Maseribane was to talk to the then Minister of Mining to help Banks secure a licence, “there would be nothing wrong in that in as far as I am concerned”.
She maintained that Chief ’Maseribane while still the Minister of Gender solicited funds from Banks who gave him M1.5 million to help three women organisations – Lingoetsi tsa Nkhono Kholu, Ts’abo Moshemane-ha-li-Jeoe and Women Federation in Lesotho.

And this money was shared equally among the three groups.
“We did not hear this noise when the money was transferred to assist these groups,” Mapheleba said.
She said Banks was even willing to finance an idea of establishing a bank for Basotho women.

She said their dream was only shattered by the Central Bank of Lesotho when it did not grant them a licence.
Mapheleba said the narrative that Banks transferred the money to their leader’s account is not a secret.
She said even after their government lost elections in the 2015 General Election, some organisations still continued to benefit from Banks’s generosity.
She said Chief ’Maseribane helped BNP followers to access financial help from Banks.

Although she could not remember the exact dates, Mapheleba said Banks once paid their business round-trip to the UK and New York catering for everything from his own pocket.
“He did not discriminate against anyone based on party politics. He did not help only those from the BNP,” she said.

Majara Molupe

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