TEBOHO KHATEBE MOLEFI
MASERU – Violence erupted Saturday night at the Basotho National Party (BNP) electoral conference at Thot’a-Moli Conference Centre, in Maseru, and a female delegate was fatally shot by unknown assailants during elections for the party leader.
The deceased is the BNP Moyeni constituency chairperson, whose names are yet to be made public, while another delegate, the Kolo constituency chairperson was shot just below the shoulder blade but survived.
Commotion began with dissatisfaction from some delegates who during reception of delegates into the polling hall claimed they were being denied entry, leading to reception officials with the assistance of the police closing entry into the hall for some time to allow tempers to cool.
Prior to the shooting there were also incidents of stone throwing by unknown individuals who were reportedly pelting small groups of party members converged outside the hall, as well as vehicles parked within the centre’s walls.
Six constituencies had at this time also lodged protests and the party executive committee was addressing the disgruntled delegates to resolve their complaints.
Following the shooting the victims were rushed to hospital; the police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, later arrived at the scene and security was beefed up.
Delegates, however, resolved to proceed with the electoral process that saw Machesetsa Mofomobe elected the new leader. Mofomobe won the race by an overwhelming 295 votes, while Professor Lehlohonolo Mosotho collected 62 votes in second position with third-placed Lesojane Leuta only managing six votes.
‘Malineo Motšepe and Lesiamo Molapo withdrew from the race just before votes were cast, while ‘Machere Seutloali also abandoned her candidature on Friday endorsing Mofomobe for party leader.
In a statement condemning the shooting, Mofomobe assured party stalwarts and the general public that he will not rest until perpetrators have been brought to book, appealing to the police to work hard to investigate and arrest those responsible.