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A tale of two fortunes?

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MASERU – WAS this a tale of contrasting fortunes for the warring factions in the All Basotho Convention (ABC)?
The rally that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was allegedly supposed to attend in Qeme turned out to be a damp squib, with a small crowd that fit into a small tent.

Some read the low turnout to be a reflection of the discontent with Thabane and the faction allegedly aligned to him.
But that might be stretching it because there is no evidence that Thabane was supposed to attend that rally. What can be proved is that the rally was organised by Health Minister Nkaku Kabi who is also the MP for Qeme.

It is not clear which faction Kabi is rooting for.
The cold reception he received from the few supporters could be a sign of anger at him as an MP rather than at the Prime Minister.
But that distinction doesn’t seem to matter to those who have appointed themselves scorekeepers in the battles rocking the ABC. So going forth, rallies will be compared and ‘points’ will be allocated.

While Kabi was being pelted with questions by irate supporters, Professor Nqosa Mahao, the new ABC deputy leader, was basking in newfound glory at a massive rally in Lithabaneng.

While the rally in Qeme cannot be explicitly linked to a faction, the one in Lithabaneng was blatant in its leaning. It had been called by Prof Mahao’s committee whose entry into office is being frustrated by the old committee that is said to be in league with Thabane.
Nearly the entire new committee was present. There were also some 11 MPs from the ABC.
The tone was defiant as speakers issued a rallying cry for the multitudes of supporters to stand with the new committee.
It was clear whose rally this was.

The new committee was testing its popularity with the members.
Prof Mahao said it was his brother Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao’s death that galvanised the ABC supporters who cast their ballots to deliver the votes that carried the party into government. He said it was ironic that the same people who benefited from that vote are now blocking his rise in the ABC.

“The newly elected committee is thwarted from taking over the office just because amongst them there is Nqosa Mahao,” he said.
“They say I am going to revenge.”

He said he found this allegation absurd because two of the country’s former prime ministers had their relatives killed but have never sought revenge.

Although he did not say who he was referring to it is common knowledge that the murder of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Maile Mosisili, remains unsolved 17 years later.

It is also widely known that two days before Thabane’s inauguration in 2017, his wife was gunned down and no arrests have been made.
Prof Mahao said he is the one who requested the government to appointment foreign judges to preside over the case of his brother’s case.
“I did this because in Lesotho we are so much related and I did not want any perceptions that the case fell this or that way because a judge was conflicted.”

“I wanted full transparency so that no one is accused (of bias) after judgment has been handed down.”
He said real revenge is seen in how the old committee is trying to expel Lebohang Hlaele, the new secretary general, from the party for flimsy reasons.

Samonyane Ntsekele, the outgoing secretary general, accuses Hlaele of fraudulently acquiring the party’s stamp and using it to appoint a lawyer to represent the new committee.

“After losing the election, we heard that a letter expelling Hlaele from the party was being drafted, that is what I call revenge,” he said.
Prof Mahao appealed to the ABC followers to respect the decisions of the elective conference.
He also said those claiming that the elections were rigged were wrong “because they (old committee) were the ones who prepared the voters’ roll”.

He said for one to be at Lehakoe Recreational Centre, the election venue, they had to have a tag. The admission tags were issued by the people who are now complaining, he said.

Quashing the insinuation that Thabane has not officially closed the elective conference and therefore the newly elected committee does not have any powers, he said even the conferences that elected the youth and women’s committees were not officially closed but they are running the affairs of their respective leagues.

Speaking at the same rally, Hlaele said the supporters should defend their leader and party.
“We are here to protect our party against anyone who tries to capture it and we do not care who does it, we just protect,” Hlaele said.
Hlaele also said they know that it is not Thabane who is wreaking havoc in their party.

He said there are people who are pretending to love their leader while in actual fact they do not love him.
“They merely have their own interests,” Halele said.

He said he was told to withdraw from contesting for the secretary general’s position at the State House so that he would not compete against Ntsekele.

“I refused to do as they commanded,” he said. Hlaele also revealed that on the first day of election there was a plan to assassinate him.
“It is just a matter of time and if I die I want all ABC members to go and bury me. And maybe my blood would rescue you,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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