MASERU – Newly elected All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, has scoffed at calls from the party’s youth league that he must resign as Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
At a rally in Likhoele, Mafeteng on Sunday, youth league chairperson Tšoloane Maphasa called on Mahao to choose whether he wants to be a Vice Chancellor or a politician, heightening a sustained campaign by the party’s old guard who continue to hound Mahao.
Mahao did not attend the rally because he deemed it illegal, saying it was contemptuous of a High Court order issued by Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase earlier this month.
He said it was organised by “the rebellious” outgoing National Executive Committee (NEC) that has been interdicted by court from doing anything other than bare administrative duties like “paying rent”.
He told Public Eye on Wednesday this week that: “I cannot engage in a spat with Maphasa but I will not resign from NUL until my contract expires. I have said this before.”
Maphasa, who spoke before ABC leader Thomas Thabane’s address, told the rally that Mahao was gradually losing touch with NUL students because “he is now more focused on party politics”.
“A NUL student was killed by a private security guard at a bar near the university during the recent intervarsity games but the university management has not done much about the incident because the vice chancellor has forsaken the university and is going up and down with politicians. He should choose between the university and politics,” he said.
But Mahao on Wednesday told this paper that the NUL incident was a symptom of a society where violence, especially among young people, has become normalised in the absence of just and equitable law enforcement under successive governments, including the current government led by ABC.
He said: “Violence has become a regular part of daily life in this country, with few boundaries, if there are any. People desperately need effective and responsive policing. Government must respond swiftly and fairly. That is what I have been saying.
“One would expect that Maphasa as a member of the ruling party’s youth league national committee, will tell young people who are likely to become victims of this violence what his government is doing to bring the situation under control not what Mahao is not doing at NUL because if I ask him what his government is doing down there in Maseru, he will be embarrassed.”
Mahao was elected deputy leader at the party’s elective conference that was held at Lehakoe in Maseru on February 1 and 2. This was after the National Executive Committee (NEC) had turned down his nomination by the Koro-Koro constituency and subsequently expelled him from the party.
The NEC decisions were upheld by the High Court but the Appeal Court reversed them on the eve of the party’s elections allowing Mahao to contest.
The outcome of the conference has been challenged in the High Court by three Members of Parliament Keketso Sello, Mohapi Mohapinyane and Habofanoe Lehana.
The trio wants the court to nullify the results and order fresh polls on the grounds that there were serious irregularities which affected the credibility of the elections.
The High Court interdicted the newly elected committee from exercising its authority pending finalisation of the matter.
The dispute has effectively split the party into two factions, the incoming NEC’s partisans, and outgoing NEC’s “rebels”, effectively pushing the party into a stalemate.
The matter will be heard later this month, after court-ordered negotiations between the parties trying to facilitate handover of power failed this week.
On Thursday last week Mahao was verbally attacked by the party’s outgoing spokesperson Tefo Mapesela.
Mapesela told factory workers that they (outgoing NEC) will not allow Mahao to be the deputy leader of ABC because he is a Johnny-come-lately to the party.
“There is someone who is claiming to be the most educated person in the country. Politics is not education. We do not need a professor to tell Chinese (factories owners) that they should pay you living wages. We do not care how much he knows of the constitution. We just need a brave leader.
“This person does not know that a political leader does not necessarily need to be educated or have a good knowledge of the constitution; all that is needed is decisiveness,” Mapesela said to ululations by factory workers.
“We do not have a problem with the newly-elected committee; we, however, have a problem with the person who got in through a court order. We will not let him in. He should go start where the rest of us started.
“Where was he when we were chased by soldiers when we were in opposition! I have never seen him even at one ABC rally. I saw him for the first time at Lehakoe wearing a new party T-shirt that they bought for him.”
Mahao was first attacked by Thabane in the run-up to the conference.
At a rally in Ha Abia in January, Thabane dismissed Mahao as a rag and non-entity who did not belong in the ABC, but later apologised and withdrew the statement.