‘…the party shoots down everyone who wants to be Thabane’s deputy’
There is no longer a crystal-clear difference between the current state of intra-party democracy in the governing All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the telltale signs of a mafia party.
That, in its essence, is the nexus insight from the leaked WhatsApp voice note of the Government Spokesperson, a staunch supporter of ABC Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane. The voice note is likely to trigger hysterical responses from various parts of the divided party.
Outspoken Selinyane conjured an image of top party officials trying to eliminate fellow party members in an all-or-nothing fight over power and turf.
In clinical detail, he tells the story of how some officials go about threatening those who want to be elected to the top-echelons of the party.
The first interesting observation about the narrative in the audio clip is that those who are seen to want to be deputies of the party leader Thomas Thabane are shot down by “the establishment, by the party itself”.
“They are shot down from the headquarters,” Selinyane said.
He said that “in that milieu, in that atmosphere, nobody could survive showing any interest of becoming a deputy” to Thabane, imperiling the members’ dream of a unified, democratic party.
“I mean only succeeding him, not even trying to take his seat,” he added.
“I also know as an observer and member of ABC when people started putting photos of comrade Moeketsi Majoro (Finance Minister) as their profile pictures on Facebook, some of ministers started humiliating Minister Majoro.
“These included our official party spokesperson Tefo Mapesela, and some who spoke to me privately asking me to warn him (Majoro) that he is young for that position and other things like that. I will not mention people’s names but I can tell them to the face if I happen to be in a caucus with them,” Selinyane said.
The election of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao as deputy leader of Thabane despite resistance from Thabane himself, has focused attention on the noxious scramble within the party that helped depose Pakalitha Mosisili who ruled the country for more than 15 years.
Mahao was elected deputy leader at the party’s elective conference that was held at Lehakoe in Maseru on February 1 and 2.
This was after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had turned down his nomination by the Koro-Koro constituency and subsequently suspended the Koro-Koro constituency committee and expelled Mahao from the party.
The NEC decisions were upheld by the High Court but the Appeal Court reversed them on the eve of the party’s elections allowing Mahao to contest.
The outcome of the conference has been challenged in the High Court by three Members of Parliament Keketso Sello, Mohapi Mohapinyane and Habofanoe Lehana.
The trio wants the court to nullify the results and order fresh polls on the grounds that there were serious irregularities which affected the credibility of the elections.
The High Court interdicted the newly elected committee from exercising its authority pending finalisation of the matter.
The dispute has effectively split the party into two factions.
Mahao was first attacked by Thabane in the run-up to the elective conference.
At a rally in Ha Abia in January, Thabane dismissed Mahao as a rag and non-entity who did not belong in the ABC, but later apologized and withdrew the statement.
Earlier this month, Mahao was again verbally attacked, this time by the party’s outgoing spokesperson Mapesela.
Mapesela told factory workers that they (outgoing NEC) will not allow Mahao to be the deputy leader of ABC because he is a Johnny-come-lately to the party.
The descent to a mafia party has not begun.
Rather, it is in full swing already and the granular details have been lifted to the surface courtesy of Selinyane and the former driver of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Temeki Tšolo who revealed to Mafeteng Community Radio (MCR) that they were instructed by ABC leader’s wife Maesaiah Thabane to go to Lehakoe and beat up anyone who was singing Mahao’s name.
In his voice note, Selinyane explained why the party members voted for a newcomer – Mahao.
He indicated that because members who aspire to be party’s deputy leader are shot down, “that is why it was possible only, to bring somebody cultivated secretly from outside the ranks of the party and visibility to the establishment”.
“And that was the qualification of comrade Mahao,” he said.
“…Nqosa came as an outsider and won the elections and the elections were voted by us and we chose him. That is a fact. We cannot get away from that.
“The court ruled in his favor, the leader read a court order to the conference and all happened. Forget about the thuggery that happened there. Some still take him as an outsider but I do not take him as an outsider. I only say he came from outside.”
“And now he has won and comrade Majoro has congratulated him. But you see, when we get away from the fact that he could only get that popularity by being cultivated away from the party, we get it wrong. And that is what makes him an outsider.
“I will say outsider in quotes. And then he is elected. And he is elected not in quotes, but unqualified as we say in accounts – without any blemish. Now we have got to reconcile the two. The two extremes are what have brought us here and the answer is in between.
“Then somebody will say I want to mix water with oil. I am going to do that. I am Pheello Selinyane, too old for that kind of sh*t. What should happen is that the new committee should take its seat. Mahao is not a leader but is a deputy leader.”
We cannot wish away the fact that Mahao was elected and we got to reconcile that. If we go outside this bracket I have just casted here, we are going to die as a party,” concluded Selinyane.