. . . as Leshota sings BNP leader’s praises
MASERU – Basotho National Party (BNP) Spokesperson ‘Masetota Leshota has come out guns blazing against party veterans calling on the national executive committee to rein in leader Chief Thesele ’Maseribane and thwart his suspected plan to pursue a third term as he has allegedly destroyed the party.
Speaking to Public Eye yesterday, Leshota labelled BNP veterans Alexis Moholi and Moorosi Mosho ungrateful “despite ’Maseribane reviving BNP and making the vibrant party we see today”.
Coupled with an interview with this publication, Moholi and Moshoeshoe have recently gone on radio to appeal to the BNP NEC to ensure that ’Maseribane, who is into his second term as leader, vacates office when the term lapses in 2021, blaming him for dwindling numbers at the polls since assuming office and attributing the alleged losses to “his poor administration of the party”. But Leshota had none of it yesterday, telling the duo that if they had issues to raise, they should follow relevant structures of the party “of which they are part”.
She added the duo was misguided to attempt to influence the executive committee, saying the BNP NEC had no control of what a conference might decide should the question the question of a third term in ’Maseribane’s favour arise. “They are misguided, that’s what they should know. As the NEC, ours is to organise for any conference to materialise, not to influence its outcome.
“Secondly, these people are chairpersons of their respective constituency committee. If they have suggestions, they know the relevant structures to follow instead of airing BNP business in the media,” Leshota said. While the BNP constitution clearly stipulates the length of a leader’s term office, Leshota said, the onus was on the conference which is superior to the constitution to extend ’Maseribane’s term as leader.
“If he decides to plead his case with the conference, it might decide to amend the constitution to allow for a third term, provided he is able to justify why he needs such. Perhaps there are things that he still wants to achieve for the BNP and only a conference can reject or endorse him for another term,” Leshota said.
She further rejected Moholi’s assertions that the BNP had shrunk under ’Maseribane’s leadership, arguing that since he began his journey at the helm of the party in 2011 “the party has only gotten better” and that “it is unfair on Thesele”.
“These people are being mean and unfair to Thesele. Why should they use election results to gauge his performance? What about membership? The BNP membership has grown in leaps and bounds since ’Maseribane took over from Ntate Lekhanya. He revived the party, the very vibrant BNP you see today. He revived the spirits of disgruntled BNP members hence the party is alive today,” Leshota said.
“Election results are influenced by a lot of factors. Even loyal card-carrying members don’t always vote for their parties at the polls, especially if there’s something at national level that they are aiming at, such as regime change. They will always dedicate their vote to the party that shows prospects of bringing the changes they seek.”
She added: “So, if the scope of Thesele’s detractors are based on election results, they couldn’t be more wrong. Thesele has neglected his personal life and office as Chief of Mt Moorosi, in favour of the BNP. He has been burnt, endangered his life and even fled to exile in the name of this party. These people are being totally unfair to him. In fact, they are lost in their assessment of issues.”
’Maseribane could not be reached for comment, while Secretary-General Ts’epo Lethoba referred this paper to Leshota, but not before expressing distaste at Moholi and Moshoeshoe for speaking in the media “when the BNP has a spokesperson”.
“These people who are discussing BNP business have no mandate to do so. I don’t know what they are saying. We have a spokesperson whose duty it is to comment on any BNP-related issue,” Lethobane said. However, ’Maseribane has previously addressed the speculation around his plan to secure a third term as BNP leader, telling this paper that while there were people within the party talking about it “it has never crossed my mind”.
“I was re-elected in 2016 and my second term as BNP leader ends in 2021. So, it’s very premature to be talking about it. It hasn’t even started breathing. There’s no life in that assumption. Nobody has ever even asked me a question as to whether I want to take a third term. I haven’t even asked myself that question either,” ’Maseribane said then. At the November 27, 2017 commemoration of the bloody 1982 massacre in Bloemfontein South Africa, where ’Maseribane was delivering the 1982 Maseru Massacre Lecture, former BNP Chairperson Dr Nthabiseng Makoae said that the BNP leader was still young and had “a lot to offer BNP”.
“He has a lot of time ahead of him. He’s still young and falls into the category of the young political leadership we want today. Although he has expressed feeling fatigued, we are saying to him that we’re the ones steering the BNP ship. He’ll have to wait to take the cue from us”. While he did not dismiss Makoae, ’Maseribane said such statements had fueled the speculation.
“Exactly my point! I was quiet and have been quiet through it all. I didn’t say anything but people have been talking about me. But remember a leader is elected by the people, he doesn’t appoint himself to a particular position,” ’Maseribane said. “Hence, I don’t want to probe people’s thoughts or freedom of speech expressed at any forum. People can talk about political leaders’ term of office. But I am saying, constitutionally an official statement is circulated in a certain way in the BNP. Indeed, such statements could have contributed to the speculation and influence the confusion in some people. But from a constitutionally perspective, that issue is neither here nor there.”