Lesotho: Thabane to Be Hauled Before Disciplinary Tribunal - Mahao

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao has said that ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will soon be hauled before a disciplinary tribunal to answer to charges of "causing confusion and fanning sectarian tendencies within the ABC".

Prof Mahao said this in a weekend interview with a South African television channel.

"He (Dr Thabane) has been suspended as leader pending a disciplinary hearing," Prof Mahao said.

"A disciplinary tribunal is being constituted but we have also called for a special national conference for the coming Saturday (7 July) to deal with all these troubles that have engulfed the party in the last five months.

"Over 50 out of 80 constituencies in Lesotho have written to us demanding a special conference and so we have more than 50 percent of the constituencies demanding that we hold a national conference. We will not prejudge (the outcome of the special conference). The special conference will pronounce itself as to what should happen."

The ABC has not known peace since its February 2019 elective conference and it has effectively split into two factions due to Dr Thabane and others' refusal to recognise the election of Prof Mahao and others into the party's NEC.

Prof Mahao also bemoaned the deleterious effects of the political instability, saying it had spawned a socio-economic crisis for Basotho who could not find employment in their own country even after being retrenched in South Africa.

He said that due to technological advances in the mining industry in recent years, the number of Basotho workers in South Africa's mining industry had dropped drastically to 21 000 from about 150 000. He said Lesotho had however, let the retrenched miners down through its failure to reposition itself to absorb them into gainful employment.

"You have a country that was historically structured as a labour reserve for South Africa, providing labour to the mining industry of South Africa, its farms and even its harbours.

"One of the results of the mechanisation of the mining industry in South Africa is that many Basotho men who would come to South Africa have found themselves being thrown back to their country without opportunities of earning a decent living," Prof Mahao said.

He said due to the fact of the government being the biggest employer along with the textile industry, most people focused on getting close to or acquiring state power and economic patronage because of the limited or non-existent economic opportunities outside government.

He argued that it was this rent-seeking behaviour that had caused Lesotho's political crises by encouraging the mushrooming of a plethora of political parties.

He said it was unfortunate that all coalitions that had ruled the country had collapsed as a result of infighting in the major party.

"This is the third coalition since 2012 and at the heart of the political crisis is a socio-economic crisis. Lesotho is a small country with just about 2, 2 million people but there are 30 political parties.

"If democracy was to be measured by the number of political parties, Lesotho would be the most democratic country but the trouble is that they (political parties) keep breaking up all the time. The result is that you don't have one or two dominant parties on the landscape and that leads to coalitions.

"Anywhere in the world, coalition governments are not stable but what is unique in Lesotho is that the fallout within the coalitions has always happened as a result of splits within the dominant party often due to the leader of that coalition. The (former main ruling party) Democratic Congress split and now you have ABC caught up in its own quagmire with the huge prospects of the government being voted out of power."

Prof Mahao accused Dr Thabane of "causing confusion and fanning sectarian tendencies within the ABC".

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