MASERU – Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane’s, reluctance to announce his imminent vacation of office is a disparagement to the party’s constitution – and his continued stay in office will be illegal and is likely to bring the party into disrepute.
These are strong views held by senior members of the party who on Thursday approached the High Court of Lesotho to order ‘Maseribane to abide by the party constitution.
Seven party members from different constituencies have teamed up to launch a court application wherein they are asking the court to declare that ‘Maseribane’s position as leader of the BNP ends as of today (March 26, 2021) and that it be declared that from March 27 the office of the leader of BNP is vacant.
The members say the party’s Deputy Leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, should automatically assume the leadership pending an elective conference for the leader and have asked the court to so order.
“That from the 27th March 2021, the deputy leader of BNP, Machesetsa Mofomobe, automatically assumes leadership and discharges functions of leader of BNP pending elective conference.”
Also, they have asked the court to order the former ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to announce and call for holding of elective conference in accordance with the party’s constitution – while also preventing ‘Maseribane to hold himself as the leader of the party.
On top of that, the complainants are seeking an order that he (‘Maseribane) be precluded from standing for elections as a candidate for the position of leader of BNP beyond March 27.
Should ‘Maseribane purport to act as leader of the BNP from March 27, 2021, the complainants are asking the court to nullify his actions and acts.
The party’s NEC on March 10 published a circular outlining June 12, 2021, as the date of ‘Maseribane’s tenure despite time for vacating office being March 2021.
Members before court say when the NEC made the circular, they did not follow the procedure outlined in the party’s constitution and want the said circular reviewed, corrected and set aside by the court.
In terms of the BNP’s constitution, a party leader holds office for a period of ten years, broken into two terms of five years only. ‘Maseribane has been in office from March 27, 2011, and his last day should be March 26, or March 28 in the alternative
‘Mota Nkuatsana has deposed to an affidavit on behalf of all the complainants and says the March 10 circular announcing June 12 as ‘Maseribane’s last date as leader is invalid and lacks contents such as the fact that the leders’s post is vacant.
The other members are Moorosi Moshoeshoe, Emmanuel ‘Mako, Lesiamo Molapo, Mochai Mochai, Motobo ‘Mabathoana and Michael Mohasi.
According to Nkuatsana, the circular ought to have announced that the ten years’ maximum tenure of office by the leader has reached an end and that the leaders’ responsibilities shall be held and discharged by the deputy leader.
Also the said circular is said to have lacked names of members of the NEC who are due to present reports on the general affairs of the party and the financial reports at a conference in observance of the shrine 90 days’ period per BNP’s constitution.
“I have outlined in specific terms, the provisions of the BNP Constitution that ought to have been adhered to and failure by the respondents to rectify those errors fuel the flames and disconnect within the BNP.
It is clear that the party’s constitution is being undermined. The leader has not announced to vacate the office. The secretary General has not announced the period of the 26th or 27th or 28th March, 2021, as the time for vacation of office by the leader,” Nkuatsana argues.
He says the circular should have been accompanied by the reports of the Secretary General, Treasurer, National organizer, National Chairperson of Youth league, National Chairperson Women’s league in term of Articles 11.8 (h) (5)(viii) of their constitution.
He adds that, “In terms of Articles (11.8(h)(7)(vi) and (11.8(h) (10) (iv) of the Constitution of BNP, further reports shall be made during the conference. These reports refer to those which are filed and served on the members of BNP prior to the holding of the Conference.
It also follows logically that these reports cannot be given for the first time during the meeting. They are given prior to the meeting so that the main decision-making body which is the conference has had the opportunity to read the meeting or conference documents package prior to holding the meeting.”
Nkuatsana contends that publication per March 10 circular (Circular No 2) is subject to be reviewed as it flagrantly violates the good order of the part’s meetings as the conference is analogous to the Board of company, the highest decision-making body in a company which, is provided in advance with a board pack.
He says it was resolved at an elective conference in Mazenod sometime in November 2019 that reports be given at the same time with the circular to allow the reading of the reports prior to the conference.
The proper conference to elect the leader should have been held in December according to the complainants so that the new leader takes reins in March 27.
“I submit that this Circular no. 2 of 2021 seeks to extend the term in office of the Leader of BNP which expires on the eve of the 26th March 2021 such that on the 27th March 2021 he should no longer be a leader of BNP.”
The members are asking on the court to order adherence to the party’s constitution saying for being a contract between members of the BNP, the principle of pacta sunda servanda (agreements must be kept).
Their fear is that, should ‘Maseribane be allowed to go beyond any time after March 27, it will be in disregard of the constitution and will be a mismanagement on their part.
“I submit that the funds of BNP should be, at all costs, preserved from further mismanagement and control of party officials who no longer have standing in terms of the party’s constitution. I apply urgently with my co-applicants to preserve the dissipation of funds amongst other things,” he said.
According to Nkuatsana and company, there are unaccounted monies under ‘Maseribane’s leadership and there is need for audits.
“I submit that there is a controversy which relates to the money which was alleged to have been coming from benefactors which has not been captured in any financial reports of BNP. I submit that there is a big issue about the financial reports from accountants.
The questionable audits have arising continuously in the past. The audit financial statements are required prior to the conference so that we have time to review them and to consult wherever necessary.
Also, Nkuatsana claims that there is M10 million in rentals which is missing. “I submit that there is a ten million Maloti (M10 000 000.00) of rent which has dissipated. I submit that even in the chambers of the judge who presided over the litigation that involved the foregoing mentioned ten million Maloti (M10 000 000.00) of property rent, the documents have been plucked out from the file in order to ensure that the monetary records do not exist. I submit that the foregoing issue is yet to be criminally investigated amongst other remedies.”
The BNP, BNP NEC, Chief Thesele Maseribane and Machesetsa Mofomobe have been cited as 1st to the 4th respondents respectively with applicants requesting the urgent intervention of the court.