Thabane calls deputy leader as ‘non-ABC member’
MASERU – All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane yesterday maintained his newly-elected deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, is not a member of the party, insisting his “legitimate deputy is Prince Maliehe”.
“That one (Mahao) is just too ambitious, he desperately wants to turn his aspirations into reality. He is not a member of ABC.
“I am the leader of this party and I do not remember seeing his application for membership, even the executive committee has never at any point accepted him into the party. He is an aspirant member,” Thabane told Public Eye in an exclusive interview yesterday.
He added that: “If he wants to join the party, it is fine, but he must do that through proper channels. He cannot just join the party and instantly become its deputy leader. “What about the people who joined the party before him? Will they accept him as their leader when he did not even qualify for election?”
When contacted yesterday, Mahao declined to comment. Thabane also told this paper that Maliehe did not give him headaches. “Yet this one who is not even my deputy wants to give me headaches,” he said. He added: “He must close this book. If his term at the university has ended, he must come to us so that we can see what we can do for him if there is anything we can do for him. He must forget about what he is trying to do now,” he said.
Mahao’s term as Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) ends today (May 31). The university’s council announced on Tuesday that it endorsed “a separation” between Mahao and the university ahead of the expiry of his contract in November.
“The separation will take effect from June 2, 2019,” read the council statement. Thabane told this paper that he had given Mahao the NUL job.
“He was introduced to me by some of our Members of Parliament and we agreed with his party that he must go and be a Vice Chancellor at NUL. He was not a member of ABC. Now when his contract expires, he does not come to me to tell me that it has expired. I am told by random people that he is saying he is a member of this party.
“That guy disrespects me and undermines my authority. You would think we grew up together, yet he is younger than me.” He also said how he was sometimes frightened by how Mahao “publicly attacks me yet I am older than him”.
“I will eventually get tired of this and I will react with the same vigour or even more. I have aces up my sleeve. Do you know where I am talking to you from? “I am talking from the State House and I can never be unsettled by someone who is speaking from a hut in a village. He thinks he can just say, ‘Thabane get out of that State House’, and I would comply. That will not happen,” said the ABC leader.
Thabane celebrated his 80th birthday on Tuesday but indicated that he was still fresh to lead the party.
He said: “I started ABC from scratch and worked hard to bring it to where it is today”. He said he would work hard to grow it.
“I know how to campaign, and I can win elections. I am not tired yet. I will say when I am tired; I will retire and go to my home in Ha Abia and enjoy my pension. I have a young wife, what more can a man ask for? “They should stop giving an impression that I am old and tired. I am not,” he added.
“When we were members of the LCD (Lesotho Congress for Democracy) with Mr Pakalitha Mosisili and the then party’s leader (former prime minister Ntsu Mokhehle) was tired and wanted to resign, he called us and told us who he would like to be his successor.
“We obeyed and from that day we started campaigning for Mr Mosisili and he became the leader and eventually prime minister. That is how things are done and how they should happen.
“When I retire, I will throw a big party to thank ABC members and Basotho in general. From there you will never see me again unless you go to my church in Masianokeng on any Sunday,” Thabane said.
Mahao was elected deputy leader of ABC at the party’s conference in February but Thabane and the outgoing National Executive Committee (NEC) have obstinately refused to allow him to assume office.
Thabane has not made his dislike for Mahao a secret.
At a rally in Ha Abia in January, ahead of the elective conference, Thabane dismissed Mahao as a rag and a non-entity who did not belong in the ABC, but later recanted the statement.
The NEC had previously turned down Mahao’s nomination by the Koro-Koro constituency and subsequently suspended its committee and expelled Mahao from the party.
The NEC decisions were upheld by the High Court, but the Appeal Court reversed them on the eve of the party’s elections allowing Mahao to contest.
When Thabane and the outgoing NEC refused to acknowledge the new committee citing a court case challenging the election results, Mahao and his team started holding rallies across the country, introducing the incoming committee.
The court application was filed by the Trade and Industry Minister Habofanoe Lehana, Mining Minister Keketso Sello and Mohapi Mohapinyane – ABC Member of Parliament for Rothe.
The trio wanted the court to nullify the results and order fresh polls on the grounds that there were serious irregularities which affected the credibility of the elections.
The High Court interdicted the incoming NEC from exercising its authority and the matter is still pending in the High Court.
When the new committee started introducing itself to the ABC members at grassroots level, the outgoing NEC retaliated by organising rallies for Thabane.
But the other group did not observe a ban on rallies and continued holding competing rallies, which Thabane said were tantamount to a declaration of war against his leadership of both the ABC and the government.