LERIBE – The All Basotho Convention (ABC) Executive Committee on Monday released a circular that opens the floodgates for the race to occupy the highest seat in the ruling party. The letter disseminated to all constituencies nationwide informs members about the vacant leadership position following the recent resignation of long-serving founding leader, Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane. Dr Thabane announced his retirement as the party leader because of advanced age at a press briefing held last Friday in Maseru. He has led ABC since its creation in 2006.
“I come before you today to announce that the work you have entrusted me with may not be finished but the time has come for me to withdraw from the theater of operations, to leave my duties as the leader of Kobo-tata (ABC),” he told the media. The Monday circular opens the opportunity for supporters to begin nominating their candidates who will contest for the leadership of the party in the upcoming national conference to commence from January 28 to 29 at Lesotho High School. Thabane said he will make his last party’s official statement during this conference.
“Interested contenders will then write to the executive committee to affirm their candidacy. It’s worth noting that every ABC member is eligible to contest for the position regardless of their status in the party,” ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said on Tuesday this week. Masoetsa further said it is up to the supporters to choose the person they delegate to take the party to greater heights as the country heads for national elections later this year. “This is an important seat that needs an open-minded person who will lead for the remainder of the current executive committee’s lifespan that ends in 2024,” Masoetsa said.
Dr Thabane became the Prime Minister (PM) of Lesotho in 2017 after his party swept the majority of constituencies during the national elections held in the same year. ABC then formed a coalition government with its affiliates – Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL). The murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane, a few days before he took office, has been strongly linked to his current wife Maesaiah Thabane. Both have since been charged with the murder of Lipolelo. Police believe the former prime minister could have had a hand in the murder but the two have denied any wrongdoing.
Following months of political wrangling, his own party executive members and its governing coalition have been urging him to resign but the veteran politician has been hanging onto his post by the skin of his teeth while public pressure also mounted on him to resign, especially because of the murder charges. Under South African mediation, the coalition government then undertook to allow a “dignified” exit for the prime minister but he repeatedly refused to set the slightest date for his departure. However, he eventually tendered his resignation as the premier in 2020, and the new Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro was sworn in.