Lesotho: Thabane Must Retire - Daughter

The Lesotho flag.
27 November 2019

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's daughter, Advocate 'Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele, has issued an impassioned plea to First Lady 'Maesaiah Thabane and other senior All Basotho Convention (ABC) and government officials to allow the veteran leader to retire from office saying he had become an international embarrassment.

In an interview on a local radio station this week, an emotional Adv Hlaele, nee Nkoea Thabane, said it was time for her father to step down as he had now become a parody of his former vibrant self and was merely being used by selfish people who benefited from having his official signature on government documents.

The forthright lawyer said even if her 80 year old father should hate her for calling for his retirement, it had to be understood that she was motivated by her love for him and could not stand and watch him become the laughing stock of the country and the world.

"Mr Thabane is not fit to be the prime minister and if you love him, I ask that he be allowed to rest," said Adv Hlaele, adding that matters had "reached a point whereby Ntate Thabane has become an embarrassment internationally".

"Honestly, there is no reason why Ntate Tom is still the prime minister and he should be given room to rest. I say this with my head held high as Ntate Thabane's child. You can crucify me for that, Basotho.

"Let go of Mr Thabane and allow him to retire. I plead with you all so that he may go home and rest. I have nothing to lose if he should get home and one day say that 'Nkoea disgusts me, I do not want to see her'. This is because I have had 49 years of basking in his love. But I refuse to allow my love (Dr Thabane) to be a laughing stock. I would have failed him if I did.

"If my siblings, uncles and aunts feel what I am saying does not sit well with them, they should please forgive me. I ask that they be kind to me, I do not like the situation my father has found himself in because I don't want him to be laughed at. There are children born in the 1990s who when Tom Thabane is spoken of they ask, 'which one, the clown?' This is because they do not know about Tom the legend and I want to protect that legacy."

She said she despised people who used Dr Thabane and even wrote speeches for him to achieve their own ends.

She said during his prime in the 1980s and 19990s Dr Thabane did not even need a written speech because he knew issues so well and could articulate them from the top of his head. He however, could no longer do that because of a medical condition she did not explain.

"Wherever he arrives he is simply handed a paper with a speech. But the Ntate Thabane that people from 1980s know is not a speech person. If Ntate Thabane was fully aware of his surroundings he would not need a written speech to communicate. I challenge any person that knows Ntate Thabane to contradict me when I say that he does not need a written speech to articulate governance, policy and leadership issues.

"I am not a medical doctor but I think there are things happening that are beyond his control because of his medical condition. The Tom Thabane that I know and the one that anybody who lived in the 1980s and 1990s knows is a Tom Thabane who does not need a written speech. International relations are at his fingertips."

She said God will punish those who forced him to remain in office for their selfish ends.

"Truthfully speaking, the Mr Thabane I know does not want to be the prime minister at this stage in his life. I detest people who use him to their advantage because I do not see any reason why Ntate Thabane is still the prime minister except to protect some people's interests. I remember hearing some people saying at one of the ABC rallies that the thing they loved most about Ntate Thabane was his signature because when he signs off a document it becomes authentic. These are the conditions we live under, where Ntate Thabane is only useful for his signature.

"Woe to those who allowed Ntate Thabane to reach this point (of infirmity). I feel bad for them because when the Lord's wrath catches up with them, it will wipe away the tears of the children of Ntate Thabane who speak the truth, those children who cry on a daily basis for that man."

Adv Hlaele also pleaded First Lady, 'Maesaiah Thabane, and other senior ABC and government officials to allow Dr Thabane to go into retirement.

"I am a very strong woman but this issue (of Dr Thabane) is not easy for me. I try to walk with my head held high and pretend to be fine but this wound is festering. If 'Maesaiah loves Ntate Thabane, she must look at him with an honest eye as if he was Ntate Ramoholi ('Maesaiah father) and ask herself if she would want the same to happen to him. That is how I feel about this matter and if I am wrong, I ask for forgiveness... .

"Ntate Thabane has a lot of children, some of whom are not his biological children and we call them Ma-ABC (ABC members). I don't blame them when they say they are his children. They love him perhaps even more than I do but if they love Ntate Thabane they will emulate his good principles. No one has seen or heard any of us the four biological children of Ntate Thabane swearing in public. Even if we drink alcohol, no one will ever see us staggering in the streets. So those that say they love Ntate Thabane more than I do, I say please emulate his good principles that he propounds.

"One of my father's greatest passions is exquisite clothes. My father loves to be fashionable. I will love him even when he is no longer fashionable. In my house, there is a room where Ntate Thabane will live in when the world no longer needs him. It has everything. If he will need a nurse I will hire one for him."

Adv Hlaele said it was time for her father to let go because he had a cushy retirement package and a home which is awaiting him when he steps down from party and government positions.

"I am not saying this in an arrogant manner but just like Ntate (Pakalitha) Mosisili and others, the state has guaranteed Ntate Thabane a generous pension. What more would Mr Thabane want at 80? What more would he want?

"He has a home. He has a legacy that is still burning bright to this day," Adv Hlaele said.

Adv Hlaele, who is married to ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, a close ally of Dr Thabane's estranged party deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, has not enjoyed the best of relationships with her father in recent times.

In July 2019, Dr Thabane addressed a party rally in Qeme and hit out at Adv Hlaele for taking up the cudgels on behalf of the premier's antagonist, Prof Mahao, in the battle for control of the ABC.

The premier also tore into his son-in-law, Mr Hlaele, suggesting that he had only entered into a loveless marriage of convenience with his daughter so that he could one day take over the ABC.

And last week, a leaked audio surfaced where Adv Hlaele attacked her father and the First Lady for allegedly meddling in her marriage.

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