Lesotho: Thabane On Mahao Defection - 'He Can Go Wherever He Wants...'

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane (file photo).

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has hit back at his former deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, for allegedly making "nonsensical" claims that he was behind a recent plot to oust him.

Mr Thabane said Prof Mahao should stop talking "nonsense" and "disrespecting" him.

He said this in response to Prof Mahao's allegations that he had abandoned the ABC to form a new party because of the incessant infighting and plots by Mr Thabane, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele to oust him from the party. (See lead story on page 2).

Reacting to the allegations, Mr Thabane, who has never hidden his dislike for Prof Mahao, yesterday said, "he is talking nonsense".

"Tell him I said he is speaking nonsense and disrespecting me because he is a child to me. I am not his agemate, you can tell him that.

"If that child cannot respect a person of my age, then how is he going to lead? He must just leave me and continue with his own plans. He must continue with the desires of his heart and desires of those who are following him. He must just leave me alone," Mr Thabane said in an interview with the Lesotho Times last night.

He said he would not lose sleep over Prof Mahao's decision to dump the ABC, adding that everyone had a right to freely associate with whoever they want in a democratic dispensation.

"He has left but many people remain in the ABC and they still love their party. A person goes wherever his heart leads him in a democratic environment. You have to give yourself an opportunity to go wherever you feel free and where you will be able to reach your goals. It happens everywhere in the world.

"This is democracy. As long as we do not chase each other with axes, spears and guns, we are on course to grow as a democratic country," Mr Thabane said, adding he wished Prof Mahao well in his new party.

He says it would be difficult to gauge the impact of Prof Mahao's departure on the ABC's performance in the by-elections to be held in six constituencies this year and in next year's general elections.

"The question you are asking is a difficult one to answer but we are working to win. Our main purpose is to win elections and we will win by doing things and crafting policies we believe will attract support from the masses," Mr Thabane said.

Asked if he planned to bounce back as prime minister after next year's elections following his party's declaration that he would lead it into those polls, Mr Thabane said this was a decision which could only be made by his party members.

"I think that issue will be debated and decided by the party members. I am governed by them as per our policy that a leader must be led by his followers. In a democratic dispensation, one can only lead if the majority say they want to be led by you. The majority will decide whether it is Thabane or anyone else to lead them.

"We must learn to accept and respect the decisions of the majority," Mr Thabane said.

The Abia constituency legislator said he would only seek re-election if the party decided he should contest next year.

"It depends on whether the Abia people still need me. If they still do then I will stand for election. If they don't need me, they will choose someone else to contest. I have no problem with that because I have trained them well to boldly take the baton and run with it," Mr Thabane said.

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