Lesotho: Mahao Warns Thabane of Imminent Ouster

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane (file photo).

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader, Nqosa Mahao, says he foresees Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and some members of the party's old national executive committee (NEC) being expelled from the party unless they change course.

Professor Mahao said this at a Sunday rally in Ha-Sofonia, Thaba-Bosiu, where he also hinted that Dr Thabane's government would also collapse in about two months if he does not resolve the problems in the party.

The turmoil in the ABC has been escalating after Dr Thabane convened an open air press conference to announce the "expulsions" from the ABC of Prof Mahao, secretary general Lebohang Hlaele, chairperson Samuel Rapapa and deputy spokesperson 'Matebatso Doti. They were "expelled" for alleged insubordination stemming from their decision to continue holding countrywide rallies despite Dr Thabane's express orders not to do so.

But the new NEC officials immediately hit back with a press conference of their own where they unequivocally rejected the "expulsions". They announced they would sue Dr Thabane for contempt of court as the premier was clearly out of line by disobeying a court order which recognised their February 2019 election as legitimate. Instead of purporting to expel them, they said Dr Thabane should have facilitated their assumption of office in line with the court judgement.

They subsequently lodged an urgent High Court application seeking to have the ABC leader declared in contempt of the 12 June 2019 judgement which confirmed them as the ABC's legitimate NEC.

They went as far as asking the courts to jail Dr Thabane "for a period determined by the honourable court" if he did not refrain from interfering with their activities as the duly elected NEC of the ABC.

However, the new NEC made an about-turn last Thursday and announced they were withdrawing the application to lodge a fresh one because they felt they had been too harsh in asking the courts to jail the octogenarian leader. The fresh application was lodged on Monday. (See story on page 2).

And on Sunday Professor Mahao said Dr Thabane and the old NEC have two weeks in which to resolve the ABC leadership crisis or be expelled from the party. He said if Dr Thabane does not resolve the problems in the party, then he has an additional two months before his government collapses.

"I should say I foresee two things here, if in a space of two weeks, Ntate Thabane can't solve the ABC infighting, he and his cohorts shall jump over the kraal," Prof Mahao said.

"Should this not happen, then this government only has two months to live before it collapses because the people are angry. I advise you, Ntate Thabane, to come back from your ways (barring the new NEC from assuming office) because from what I see, those who are making you write the (expulsion) letters are hastening the sunset and as your deputy, I am advising you.

"My primary mandate with my associates is to see how best we can unify and save this party."

He said he had observed the country's politics from a distance for a long time. He was disappointed to see the current government betraying the expectations of the electorate.

"The electorate had great expectations when they voted for the ABC. Above all, they trusted that the ABC would save them but for the first time, I have witnessed the light dwindling in a space of two months.

"Today the country is in distress as our party is at war with itself," Prof Mahao said.

He said the barring of the new ABC NEC from assuming control of the party had thrown the government into total disarray.

He also launched a broadside against the print media for allegedly "always using his name to make headlines" and causing him and Dr Thabane to fight as if they were puppies.

"I'm always making headlines in the print media even when there is nothing about me in the stories. You are always making us fight one another with Ntate Thabane as if we were some puppies. Just stick to what was done and said instead of making it your business to cause fights between us."

For his part, Mr Hlaele said all along they had been fighting to save Dr Thabane but they were now ready to let him fall. He said if they go to court, they are confident that Dr Thabane would be defeated.

"Let's go to court and see who will jump over this kraal (leave the party). We said we loathed corruption, we don't want carnage, we don't want rapes, and if we have fought and managed to topple Pakalitha Mosisili's regime when he subjected this nation to these vices, then the same can happen to the current government if it does the same things.

"If the electorate voted Mosisili out of power, the same can be done to this government but before we do that, let's give this new committee a chance to eradicate this corruption rooted in the government," Hlaele said.

He also said Dr Thabane does not have the power to expel him from the party since he is from a different constituency.

"Ntate Thabane has no power to expel me from the party because I didn't join ABC in his constituency. I joined in Qaqatu and he has no word whatsoever over me. I am the only secretary general of this party and the least he should have done is to summon us instead of expelling us,"Hlaele said.

ABC's Thaba-Bosiu legislator Thabo Sofonia also registered his constituency's dissatisfaction with the government's performance and the infighting within the ABC, which he said had slowed down development.

"This is the time for the politics of truth and we just can't stick to someone (Thabane)... when he is in the wrong. I am also not ashamed to say that some of our ministers are useless and need to be changed.

"Even players who are useless are changed during a soccer match but surprisingly, this is not happening with our government. We are also in the queue and deserve to be given a chance to lead."

Mr Sofonia appealed to the ABC followers not to be discouraged by the infighting within the party.

"Do not be frustrated by this infighting, we have very good policies. If this fighting doesn't end, I will push for the ouster of this old man (Dr Thabane) in parliament and tell him to go home... .We will then have a chance to implement the policies for the betterment of all," Mr Sofonia said.

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