. . . as BNP internal wars escalate towards polls
MASERU – Former Basotho National Party (BNP) Secretary-General, Lesojane Leuta, has appealed to party leader Chief Thesele ’Maseribane to rein in spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe and Youth League President Patriot David Letela who he accuses of ‘insulting’ him and spreading propaganda that he is not member of BNP, despite a court order nullifying his expulsion.
Leuta threatens to sue the party for contempt of court.
Currently an independent local government councilor for the ’Makhoroana ED08, a position he attained before his reinstatement into the BNP, Leuta tells ’Maseribane that, if as the head of the BNP he “cannot rein them in” then he will be left with no choice but to seek recourse in the courts as “Mofomobe and Letela’s behaviour is tantamount to contempt of a court order”.
Leuta’s previous run-ins with the party were settled out of court in the former BNP SG’s favour, resulting in a Deed of Settlement reached in June 2018.
Leuta was in 2016 expelled from the BNP after a major fall-out with the BNP NEC, and was at some point compelled to seek security from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) as he believed his life was in danger from party fanatics who supported the NEC in their squabble.
Leuta supports a faction of the BNP backing the candidacy of current deputy-leader Joang Molapo to retain the post following the elections and this paper has been reliably informed that Molapo’s camp is yet to decide whether to make Leuta its contestant for the post of Chairperson or SG, also former Ambassador Felleng Makeka has been earmarked for the coveted position of SG for Molapo’s clique.
According to the Deed of Settlement, the two parties; being the BNP’s lawyer at the time Attorney Tumisang Mosotho, BNP’s acting Secretary-General Ts’epo Monethi and Leuta and his legal representative Adv. Rethabile Setlojoane, Leuta should be “reinstated to the BNP without any preconditions”.
Leuta has written a letter addressed to ’Maseribane dated 24 July and seen by Public Eye, in which he seeks to bring ’Maseribane’s attention to the fact that Mofomobe and Letela continue to insult and belittle him despite the court order.
In the letter, the former BNP SG recounts how Mofomobe and Letela have been on a campaign on local radio stations, discounting his membership of the BNP.
“You are aware that the matter between Basotho National Party (BNP) and others and myself in CIV/APN/236/16 in the High Court of Lesotho was settled out of court after lengthy negotiations between the party and myself. The Deed of Settlement was agreed and the order of court was issued on 18 June concluding the matter in my favour,” Leuta tells the BNP leader.
Public Eye understands that the animosity was reignited almost a month ago when the former BNP SG submitted a sworn affidavit in support of an application that challenged the call for the party’s elective conference that was supposed to have been held from July 12 to 14, 2019, about which members from four constituencies namely; Qacha’s Nek, Qhalasi, Qoaling and Mafeteng complained over the manner in which the indaba was announced, which they said violated the constitution.
Leuta’s affidavit detailed how he had written to acting SG Monethi to bring to his attention to violations of the constitution during constituency committee elections, further warning the BNP NEC against calling a short-notice elective conference.
However, as the matter proceeded in the high court, the BNP’s legal counsel Adv. Christopher Lephuting, sought to discount Leuta’s membership on the basis that he had been expelled from the party, and allegedly went on to form his own political party called ’Mutlanyana, under which he contested the 2017 general elections.
As a result, Lephuthing told the court Leuta’s affidavit was just a ploy to sow seeds of confusion in the party hence the court should not rely on it.
“I am alarmed at the conduct of some party members who show callous disregard of the rule of law by declaring that the BNP is not bound by that court order. On Monday 15 July 2019 I went to the local radio station, Harvest FM, during the midday programme in response to the malicious allegations that were made by one of the legal counsels representing BNP in CIV/APN/216/2019 that I am not a member of the party, because I have my own party called ‘Mutlanyana,” Leuta tells ’Maseribane in the letter.
“I had gone to the radio station simply to refute those falsehoods that were being propagated against me. I also explained how the ’Mutlanyane symbol was assigned to me by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) at the time of national general elections. As proof that I have no political party, during the local government elections I used a different symbol.”
In response to the Harvest FM broadcast, Leuta relates how Letela who claimed to be representing BNP’s “side of the story” went “on a tirade and uttered a torrent of abuse against me”.
“He contemptuously rejected all my explanations and was adamant that the court order referred to earlier would not be complied with and that I will be kicked out of BNP. Since then, this person and his cohorts have taken to the airwaves on various radio stations in the country to hurl all manner of abuse at me,” Leuta writes.
“On one occasion he was joined by Mr Machesetsa Mofomobe during Radio Lesotho programme “Ho Tloha Tele Ho Ea Mechechane”. It should be borne in mind that Mr Machesetsa Mofomobe is a member of the BNP NEC and Patriot Letela is the President of the BNP Youth League and by that virtue an ex-officio member of the NEC.”
According to Leuta, Mofomobe and Letela’s malicious attitude towards him is meant to sully his good name and integrity to BNP members and Basotho. Leuta reminds ’Maseribane that at the height of his fight with BNP NEC in 2016, he (Leuta) pleaded with ’Maseribane to restrain Mofomobe from using “social media to insult me”.
“The purpose of this letter is to appeal to you as the leader of the BNP and head of its NEC, to bring to order and direct Mr Machesetsa Mofomobe and his cheerleaders to desist from insulting me.
“They know full well that I had not formed a party but they are willfully using this issue to besmirch my good name and reputation and integrity in the eyes of BNP membership and the nation at large,” Leuta says.
“Actually, Mr Mofomobe has been on an undisguised crusade against me since 2014 and has had a penchant to hurl all kinds of filth at me. Now he is at it again and more ferocious. As the repository of power and authority in the BNP, you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens with and in the party. When this gentleman (Mofomobe) and his fellow travellers go on a rampage in pursuit of narrow political interests, they are causing irreparable harm not only to their cause but also to the party.”
Leuta further tells his leader that he is duty-bound to act “in order to bring this anarchical behavior to an end” for the sake of the party and “unblemished record of your leadership”, adding that should the situation persist “I will have to approach courts of law for relief”.
“If Mofomobe and his agents do not stop this vilification campaign against me and the contemptuous remarks about the court order, I will have no choice but to approach courts of law because the party will be in contempt.
“This is because Mr Mofomobe and Patriot are members of the NEC and they purportedly do speak on behalf of the BNP,” Leuta concludes.”
BNP members who instigated the lawsuit against their party, argued that the conference which was scheduled to be held 27 days after its announcement, should have been scheduled for 90 days after its announcement in the circular, as per provisions of the BNP constitution.
They also lamented the irregular manner in which constituency committee elections were held in some constituencies which contravened provisions of the BNP constitution, giving an example of Qacha’s Nek where they recounted how leader ’Maseribane entered that constituency under the guise of discussing national reforms and the unveiling of a statue of BNP founder Chief Leabua Jonathan in South Africa’s Free State Province, only for the constituency to be told they should also hold elections.
Shocking about that election, the applicants noted, was the fact that BNP members from neighbouring constituencies such as Hloahloeng were allowed to vote and that voting was done by way of nominating and seconding names instead of the secret ballot.