By Staff Writers

Maseru, Jan 23 (The Night’s Watch) – The Secretary General of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) Lebohang Hlaele says the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) wants Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to resign before February 21.

On January 9, the NEC called for Thabane to step down but did not give a deadline on when he should resign.

This was after the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli accused Thabane of involvement in the killing of his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane ahead of his inauguration in June 2017.

The Lesotho Times then reported last week that Hlaele had said the ABC wanted Thabane to step down on July 31, 2020.

But in an interview with the same publication this week, Hlaele said he did not know why he was quoted as saying Thabane will retire on July 31.

“The ABC NEC in its recent sitting decided that the prime minister who is the leader of ABC and also a deployee to the government must retire soon because of his health, age and these murder allegations,” he said.

“I never said he would go on July 31. But we would like him to go before the opening of parliament. And we have agreed to approach him and say Ntate because of these murder allegations and because of your age, which affects your health please consider leaving office before the opening of parliament, he added.

Hlaele, who is also Thabane’s son in law, further told the Lesotho Times that the party hopes parliament will be opened between 14 and 21 February. By that time, Thabane should have packed up and gone.

He said: “We are not sure of the exact date but definitely parliament will be open in February. And we are saying he should go before. We want him gone before the opening of parliament but we have not spoken to him to say this is the position we have taken as a party.”

Lipolelo was shot dead by unknown assailants as she was about to drive into her Ha ‘Masana home on 14 June 2017. The incident occurred just two days before Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister.

Alleged evidence that Thabane was involved in Lipolelo’s murder surfaced from court documents filed by Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli – who was challenging Thabane’s attempts to sack him.

Molibeli told the court that the decision to suspend him was made “mala fide” (in bad faith) and to achieve ulterior motives harboured by Thabane against him.

In an explosive affidavit, Molibeli noted that: “I wish to take this Honourable Court into my confidence and disclose that in the investigation of the murder of one Lipolelo Thabane, the 1st Respondent (Thabane) is implicated. I have sought expert evidence in the matter both from RSA (Republic of South Africa) and the US (United States of America).”

The court documents also contained a letter from Molibeli to the prime minister saying that communication records from the day of Lipolelo’s murder picked up Thabane’s mobile phone number.

“Whether the murder allegations against you are true or not, you will never be confident about yourself or look people in the face. So the best way is to step aside,” Hlaele said this week.

“That is our position as a party and that is the position I am putting to you and not this thing where you say that the Secretary General of the ABC said the last day of Prime Minister will be July 31,” he added.

However, Thabane in a separate interview with the same publication, differed sharply with Hlaele saying a decision had not been made about when he would vacate office.

“I have not resigned from office. Let me make that very clear. I have announced my intention to step down pending processes that must take place before I actually leave office,” he said.

He emphasized that he is stepping down “contrary to what is being said that I am resigning”.

“And I have not actually stepped down yet, but announced my intention to step down. There will be consultations with my colleagues in the government, the party, parliament and party members about my decision before a decision on when I vacate office is made. Anyone, except those I mentioned, have no role in this process,” he added.

Thabane said he considered stepping down because “I want to rest after more than 50 years in service for my country”

He indicated that the necessary procedures would be followed “by my party until I actually leave office”.

“We will do things our way with my party. It is no one’s business about when I vacate office. Again, I am stepping down because I want to. No one is frog-marching me out of office,” Thabane said. NW

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