The All Basotho Convention (ABC) trio Habofanoe Lehana, Keketso Sello and Mohapi Mohapinyane, as well as their cronies in the party, have nothing to celebrate yet.
In fact, the outcome of what transpired in Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase’s High Court chambers this week is likely to pave way for even much unsavoury relations and circus in the country’s most followed party.
Once the party that brought hope into a large number of Basotho, the ABC has been reduced to an association of comics in just two weeks since the elective conference of its national executive committee.
What is even disappointing is for the courts of law to be entertaining the roundabout tactics displayed by a disgruntled faction of ABC which does not want to accept outcome of the February 1 – 2 elections that changed face of the party.
In my sincere view, the recent fracas in the ABC is simply an orchestration by losers who refuse let go of power, and there is no court order that is going to solve their problem.
Question is, what do those playing delay tactics by circumventing the will of the masses and clinging onto power have to hide so much that they cannot allow their fellow comrades take the baton and lead the party into the future?
If the so-called ABC diehards and its leaders clinging onto power undermine the outcome of an elective conference, what message do they send to the party followers?
The ABC had not only attracted national support, but also the international partners pledged support to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane-led government in its victory over the sanction-threatened regime of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili after the June 3, 2017 elections.
Basotho, not only the ABC followers, had grown tired of atrocities in the congress-led government. They were desperate to find a replacement and pinned their hopes in the alliance of ABC, Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
Being the main-ruling party in the alliance, the ABC cannot afford to break up at this juncture.
Since the coming of first coalition government of Lesotho in 2012, of which the ABC led, the country has been forced to go for snap elections every two years. If the ABC fails again this time, it may around the same two years since their victory in June 2017.
Now, the winners in the ABC poll led by Professor Nqosa Mahao has been dealt another blow, this time by an interim court order which interdicted them from administering duties of the ABC under the position as the newly elected national executive committee.
Justice Mahase, the MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism learned made a ruling that left lawyers who had convened in her chambers to deal with etiquette issues ahead of the hearing stunned.
This order, the Centre has learned, was made without the Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane’s lawyers having made any argument before the Judge when a ruling in their favour was made in the interim.
The ruling effectively hands back all powers to administer the ABC to outgoing national executive committee of the party until the court battle has been concluded.
But it is the outcome of this national executive committee elective conference that has since been the talk of the town, leaving party stalwarts sharply divided.
Justice Mahase ordered that both parties should file responding papers Today, February 14 and appear before court for arguments tomorrow (Friday February 15).
Mahase, on the instigation of lawyers representing the respondents in the case, issued a Court Order which the Centre learned she allegedly refused to sign.
The unsigned court order, reads thus: “the first Respondent (ABC) should be interdicted from confirming its purported new National Executive Committee elected during its recent elective conference pending finalization of the matter before court.
“That the second respondent (ABC NEC) should be interdicted from handing over, the properties of the ABC to the purported newly elected committee pending the final determination of this application,” read the order.
The court further ordered that “the purported newly elected members of the ABC National Executive Committee should be interdicted from assuming the administration of the party pending finalization hereof”.
On Friday both parties are expected to argue whether the “National Executive Committee election results announced by Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations cited among respondents be declared null and void or not”.
To be debated on tomorrow, Friday, is whether the ABC and ABC NEC should be ordered to prepare for and hold a fresh election within a period of three (3) months of finalization of the case before the High Court.
In their court papers, the applicants told the court that the winners of the ABC elections stated they want transfer of power by February 11 hence their decision to approach the court for fear of “high likelihood that the factions will fight each other”.