MASERU – A bruising battle is under way as the Basotho National Party (BNP) prepares to elect a new leader at a conference in June to replace party leader, Chief Thesele ’Maseribane. The fight pits deputy leader Machesetsa Mofomobe against the following; Lesojane Leuta, Professor Lehlohonolo Mosotho, Advocate ’Mota Nkuatsana, ’Machere Seutloali and ’Mamotšepe Motšpe.
Watchers allege ’Maseribane, who is minister of small business development, prefers to see Mofomobe succeed him but Mofomobe strongly refuted this yesterday. “My track record speaks for itself. I have been loyal to the BNP and served it with all diligence,” he said. On Tuesday this week, one of the contenders, Leuta, wrote to the BNP secretary general Tšepo Lethobane asking him to rein in Mofomobe who he accused of breaching all leadership campaign protocols.
“I wish to bring to your attention the disgraceful manner in which Mr. Machesetsa Mofomobe conducts himself in this campaign for the leadership position of the BNP,” Leuta said in his letter. “In the process he unashamedly breaches all protocols agreed upon in your office on April 1, 2021 when we were issued with letters of authorisation to enter constituencies for campaign purposes,” he added.
Leuta also explained to Lethobane that Mofomobe had arrogated to himself the right to speak ill of other contenders “contrary to item 2”, specifically, of the guidelines agreed between the candidates and the sub-committee set up to oversee the smooth running of the contest.
“With regard to item 2, the National Executive Committee (NEC) has not lived up to its responsibility to ensure that all candidates behave as agreed. This may be due, in part, to the fact that police cannot be expected to police themselves,” he said. He added: “Mr Mofomobe is a member of the NEC and the Deputy Leader of the BNP. Those members of the Sub-Committee being members of the NEC are answerable to him. They wish to curry favour with him.”
Leuta further indicated that a self-respecting and ethical person would have stepped down from that position in order to level the playing field. “Alas, that was not to be! Because he wants an unfair advantage over other candidates. That is why he has drafted an NEC member, Regional Organiser for the North, to his campaign team,” he said. Lethobane confirmed to this paper yesterday that he received Leuta’s letter.
“I called him several times but he did not pick my calls. He eventually did and I asked to meet him so that we can discuss his letter further. He said he will get back to me and I am still waiting for him to do so,” Lethobane said. In a telephone interview with Public Eye yesterday, Mofomobe dismissed Leuta as “just a person who is reacting negatively to the reality that he is going to lose”, indicating Leuta was sulking over a impending defeat.
“He is throwing a tantrum because he finds it difficult to accept the reality that he is going to lose. Mr Leuta is going to get five votes out of the possible 400 votes whereas I am going to get over 380,” Mofomobe said.
“I will take the 380 votes and they will share the left over 20 votes amongst themselves. I do not know how they will share but that is the total of what they will get, all of them combined,” he added. In his letter, Leuta also charged that by virtue of being the nephew of the leader, Mofomobe wielded a lot of influence and got away with a lot of things that were injurious to the party.
“Due to his personal interest in who should become president of the BNP Women’s League, he alienated and antagonised many people. The animosity that ensued after that conference was the trigger for the establishment of the breakaway party, the Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL) in 2016,” he said.
“Aided and abetted by his uncle, the leader, ascension to the Deputy Leader’s position was such a messy affair that the rifts caused by that campaign in the party have still not healed,” he added.
He added: “If anything, they are being exacerbated by the disingenuous manner in which contests for the coveted post is being conducted. All these demonstrate that Mr. Mofomobe’s presence in the NEC has been nothing but a disaster. I know first-hand because I had to rein him in on several occasions.” Lethobane told Public Eye yesterday that the campaign was going on smoothly and not as bad as Leuta had tried to portray it. “The campaign is going well but there have been challenges here and there as one would expect. But it is not bad,” he said.