Some disgruntled members of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) have ditched the party's deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao's faction to form a new party, the People's Convention (PC).
The party is yet to be registered by the Independent Electoral commission (IEC) which remains without commissioners after the government refused to renew the contracts of former commissioners, Mahapela Lehohla, 'Mamosebi Pholo and Makase Nyaphisi after they expired in January this year.
According to PC spokesperson, Mohoalohoalo Jane, the PC was formed after the realisation that ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his allies will not allow Prof Mahao and his allies to assume control of the party's national executive committee (NEC) even though the High Court declared them the rightful NEC.
Last week, Prof Mahao and his allies scored a major victory after High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monapathi, overturned their 17 June 2019 "expulsions" from the fractious ruling party by Dr Thabane.
Although the court verdict confirmed Professor Mahao and his allies as the legitimate NEC of the ABC, their battle with Dr Thabane for control of the ruling party is far from over after some senior ABC officials announced they would not accept them back into the NEC, in apparent defiance of the court order.
Senior party members; Ministers Moeketsi Majoro (Finance), Nkaku Kabi (Health) and Chalane Phori (Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing) addressed a press conference immediately after the ruling on Tuesday and insisted that the quintet would only be allowed back into the party as ordinary card-carrying members.
This despite Justice Monapathi's very categorical ruling nullifying Dr Thabane's June 2019 "expulsions" of Prof Mahao and four others from the ABC. Dr Thabane, who is now on leave, had not publicly commented on the Tuesday court verdict by the time of going to print.
Justice Tšeliso Monapathi ruled that the ABC constitution did not give Dr Thabane any powers to expel any member of the ABC or to make unilateral decisions without involving the party's national executive committee (NEC).
The net effect of the judgement is to restore Prof Mahao and his co-applicants, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and 'Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson) to the party posts they won at the ABC's February 2019 elective conference.
It nullifies Dr Thabane's appointments of Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro (in place of Prof Mahao), Kemiso Mosenene (in place of Mr Rapapa), Sentle Rabale (in place of Mr Masoetsa) and Joel Mohale in place of Ms Doti.
It is this dogged determination by these ABC officials not to allow Prof Mahao and his allies to take over the ABC's NEC which has caused Mr Jane and others to dump Prof Mahao and form the PC.
"Having realised that the ABC is in shambles and dirty and can no longer be fixed; having recognised that despite the ABC being the leader of the coalition, government corruption is rife, service delivery is impaired, nepotism is the order of the day, unemployment is on the rise, accountability on public funds is an unheard of practice, democracy in the party and in government is dead, the infighting within ABC is intensifying, we decided it was time we let go of the empty shell of ABC," Mr Jane told the Lesotho Times this week.
"The ABC is a write-off and cannot be revived let alone be marketable. The ABC is just an empty shell and it is high time that we let go and started afresh. We decided to leave before it's too late.
"The infighting within ABC has dragged for way too long and we believed that by now Ntate Mahao and his allies would have taken over the leadership of the party. We even urged them to cut ties with the other ABC faction but they still wanted to work hand in hand with the other faction.
"This is despite the fact that this other faction has never minced its words and made it very clear that they don't want anything to do with Mahao.
We really hoped that Prof would save us because we were aware that the court's decisions would not bring any changes to the stalemate. We still have not given up on making Professor Mahao see things from our perspective and we are still pursuing him to come and our party leader because we don't see any other candidate for that position," Mr Jane said.
Reverend Phakiso Motaung of the Voice of the Voiceless Association (VOVA) who is among those leading efforts to form the new party said, "We had hoped that ABC was the answer to Basotho's problems but we are disappointed. They have failed us".
"The ABC has failed to listen to our grievances and we had hoped that the new NEC would save us but we are still stuck and we now believe that ABC is beyond redemption," said Reverend Motaung.
However, ABC spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, dismissed Mr Jane and his PC colleagues as attention-seeking and power-hungry individuals bent on sowing confusion within the party.
"We are not going to be diverted by power-hungry and attention-seeking people.
"These are just ordinary members of the ABC who do not even hold any positions in the party structures. They thought they would be close to the hierarchy and they have never been focused.
"All they are hoping for are free tee-shirts and free transport once there is a new party in place. But we will continue working to revamp the ABC," Mr Masoetsa told the Lesotho Times this week.
Former Mining Minister Lebohang Thotanyana's name has been mentioned among those fronting the PC. But Mr Thotanyana, who only joined the ABC early this year from the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy, has denied any links with the PC.
"When I first joined ABC there were people who already wanted to start a new party and I was mandated by the leadership (Mahao's faction) to talk them out of the idea- a mandate which I successfully executed," Mr Thotanyana said.