Lesotho: ABC Special Conference Date Set

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and ABC rival Nqosa Mahao.
6 September 2019

The long-running battle for control of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) raged on this week with "expelled" deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao's faction, announcing that it will hold its special conference at Lesotho High School in Maseru on 7 September 2019.

The special conference had initially been planned for 6 July 2019 and the main agenda was to discuss the expulsion of party leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane from the party.

It was however, aborted at the last minute after Dr Thabane and deputy secretary general Nkaku Kabi obtained an interim interdict from Acting Chief Justice 'Maseforo Mahase to block the conference.

Prof Mahao clinched the deputy leader's post at the party's February 2019 elective conference. His allies, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson) also clinched powerful posts in the party. But the five have not been able to discharge their new roles after Dr Thabane opposed their election. Dr Thabane subsequently "expelled" them from the party on 17 June 2019. The five have since resolved to launch a fresh application to challenge their "expulsion" after their initial application was dismissed last week by the High Court on the grounds that it was not properly filed.

The Mahao faction had initially set 6 July 2019 as the date for the special conference that would among other things, discuss the expulsion of Dr Thabane from the party.

But the conference had to be cancelled after Dr Thabane and Mr Kabi obtained an interim order from Justice Mahase to block the conference. The duo argued that Dr Thabane had expelled Prof Mahao and his allies from the party and therefore they had no legal standing to call a party conference.

But in a turn of events a fortnight ago, Dr Thabane and Mr Kabi withdrew their court bid for a final order to bar the Mahao faction from holding the conference. Mr Kabi would not say why the application was withdrawn. He however, told the Lesotho Times that the withdrawal of the application did not affect the status of Prof Mahao and his four allies who remained expelled from the ABC. He said they would only be re-admitted into the party as ordinary members at the branch level if they applied for readmission.

However, Prof Mahao and his allies are singing a different tune, saying the withdrawal of the application meant that they were the legitimate NEC of the ABC and they could proceed with the conference.

And in the latest twist to the infighting, the Mahao camp has resolved to hold the conference on 7 September 2019. The conference date was revealed in a circular written by Mr Hlaele to all NEC members, the women's and youth leagues, provincial, liaison, constituency and branch committees.

The circular is dated 23 August 2019 but it was only leaked to the media this week.

"In its meeting held on 22 August 2019, the national executive committee decided to call a special conference as per the advice of constituencies," Mr Hlaele states in the circular.

"The purpose of the conference is to find an everlasting solution to the disturbing problems within the party and the conference shall be held on 7 September 2019. The lists of delegates to the conference should be submitted to secretary general (Mr Hlaele) by 4 September 2019," the circular states.

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