Is Thabane losing his grip on ABC?

Is Thabane losing his grip on ABC?

MASERU – COULD Prime Minister Thomas Thabane be losing his grip as leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC)?
That is the question some are asking after he was heckled by irate members at the party’s sabbatical conference in Quthing over the weekend.
Thabane has largely maintained a tight grip on the party’s reins since its formation in 2006.

He has remained standing even as the comrades with who mhe formed the party have fallen by the wayside.
He is venerated by his supporters who have thrust him into power two times, first in 2012 and then in 2017.
But in recent months, things have started going awry as he battles growing dissent within the party.

The anger is mostly directed at what some see as his failure to keep the First Lady from party and government matters.
Although Thabane has faced attacks from the rank and file, his fiercest critic has been party chairman and stalwart Maliehe.
After his dismissal from cabinet and suspension from the party, Motlohi Maliehe seems to have taken his gloves off.
After the chaotic conference in Quthing, Maliehe told a local Sunday weekly that he rejects his suspension and believes that he has defeated Thabane.
That seems to indicate that Maliehe is now gunning for Thabane’s position.

The mob that caused the fracas at the conference seemed to have been behind Maliehe.
This is the first time that someone in the party indicated that he wants to replace Thabane.
Political scientist Sofonea Shale, who is the national director for Development for Peace Education (DPE), says what is happening now is a result of the party’s failure to address the issues.
Shale says the party seemed to have deferred the problems until matters came to a head in Quthing.

“You will recall that there were some dissenting voices, an organised group that aired its opinions over radio stations and in most cases the party secretary general would go to such radio stations to fetch them, saying that was not the right platform to discuss ABC issues,” he says.
“However, he did not address the problems they were raising but instead deferred them.”
Shale says in Matelile Constituency both Thabane and secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele apologised to the people “but that did not mean that they had addressed the problem”.
To restore peace, he says, the party has to start by accepting that there are problems.

“These issues just need to be handled with wisdom and be redirected,” Shale says.
He said it is still too early to conclude that Thabane is losing his grip.
“We cannot safely say the leader has lost control but what happened in Quthing is a manifestation of unresolved problems within the party.”
Arthur Majara, a political commentator with congress leanings, says Thabane has not lost control but the problem is that there is a fight for resources and positions.
Majara says local politics are plagued with people who see positions in parties as means to have public resources.

“I mean everyone is not concerned about other people,” Majara says.
“These things have been happening from LCD, DC even ABC. This not something new, it happened years back, it is not anything unique when it is done by the ABC.”
“The only thing different with the ABC is that their leader is getting old so he cannot lead well.”

He also notes that Thabane’s wife, First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane, “like any other person, the lady is also willing to be a leader”.
He says Maliehe should be supporting Thabane but the quest for power has strained their relations.
“But due to the problem of hunger that our country is facing all these things are happening,” he said.

“There is a tendency of betraying other people in politics because everyone wants to be in a leadership position,” says Majara.
The National University of Lesotho political science lecturer, Seroala Tšoeu-Ntokoane points out that the heckling of the ABC leader last week “should not be a cause for concern because by voicing their dissatisfaction in this way the rank and file of members demonstrated their power”.

“They showed that they have some control over what could just be unbridled powers and decisions of the leader. Last week was also a test in conflict resolution capacity of ABC,” she says.
“I really have not had time to assess the event but the serious thing is that our political parties do not have a strong tradition of conflict resolution.”

Staff Reporter

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