MASERU – All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane and the party’s newly-elected but sidelined deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, appear to be on a collision course and will likely face off at different rallies less than 100 kilometres apart on Sunday.
Thabane will address a rally at Ha Ramokoastsi in Likhoele, Mafeteng but Mahao told Public Eye yesterday he will not attend the Likhoele rally saying he suspected “it is illegal as it casts disrespect on the High Court order” issued by the Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase earlier this month.
Mahao, instead, is expected to address the Berea rally at ha Foso.
He has previously addressed rallies in two different constituencies, Lithabaneng and Koro-Koro on March 3 and 10 respectively.
The situation in the ABC is beginning to appear like a fight to the death pitting Thabane against his newly elected right-hand man as they have pushed each other to the proverbial point of no return.
Political analysts have warned that the increasingly vicious fight for control of the ABC has besmirched Thabane’s standing and could plunge the government he heads into terminal decline.
“I am also aware of a rally that will be held by the Berea constituency on the same day. This one is a constituency rally while that one that will be held at Likhoele was organised by the rebellious NEC (National Executive Committee) that has been interdicted by court from doing anything other than bare administrative duties like paying rent,” Mahao said yesterday.
“That committee cannot even take any disciplinary measures against any party members. In other words, they are just an emasculated committee but they seem to be in denial.”
Montoeli Masoetsa, newly-elected spokesperson of the incoming committee which has since been locked out of office, also told Public Eye yesterday that they (new committee) only recognise the Berea constituency rally.
“If invited, members of the new committee will attend that rally and even make speeches like they had done in the previous rallies held by constituencies,” Masoetsa said.
Samonyane Ntsekele, secretary general of the outgoing committee on Wednesday accused, albeit indirectly, Mahao and his team for “hiding behind constituency rallies” and going into different constituencies to cultivate their support.
“Constituencies are allowed to hold rallies without first seeking permission from the NEC. But if a host constituency wants to invite people from other constituencies, it must notify the NEC of such. Constituency committees are responsible and answerable to the NEC,” Ntsekele said.
He said, according to the party’s established custom, constituencies are not expected to hold their own rallies when Thabane has a rally.
“Expectation is that we should all follow the leader wherever he is going. We cannot hold clashing rallies as that will send a wrong message. I hope Berea will postpone their rally,” he added.
In a circular published on Tuesday, Ntsekele emphasized that “all constituencies” were expected to attend the Likhoele rally.
Mahao was chosen at an elective conference in Maseru on February 1 and 2 where Thabane, who has led the party since October 2006 when it was established, was unopposed.
At a rally in Koro-Koro last Sunday, Mahao indicated that the new committee was genuinely going to root out the ills that have done so much to tarnish the party and the government’s image.
The contest to take over the party’s deputy leadership was bitterly fought, pitting Mahao, Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL), against Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro, along withPublic Works and Transport Minister Maliehe and former Minister of Tourism Motlohi Maliehe.
In the run-up to the elective conference, observers deemed the leadership contest the most important since ABC was established and indicated that the conference’s outcome was likely to go a long way in determining the party’s future and Thabane’s fate – whether he leads the party in the 2022 national elections.
Thabane (79), has already indicated that he wants to lead the party in the next general elections which are due in 2022 and rule the country for another five years to 2027 when he will be 88.
Ahead of the conference, Thabane launched unveiled phillipic on Mahao.
At a rally in Abia in January, Thabane dismissed Mahao as a rag and non-entity who did not belong in the ABC.
The old ABC NEC had at the time barred Mahao from participating in the elective conference, which was rubber-stamped by Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase, only for the Court of Appeal President Professor Kananelo Mosito to set the decision aside.