Imminent caucus of All Basotho Convention (ABC) legislators is a litmus test for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane leadership fitness.
It is the outcome of this high-powered party meeting that is anticipated to determine Thabane’s fitness to mend party’s warrying factions and sustain his grip on power.
Set for Friday, March 01, caucus will be the first platform for all 51 ABC law-makers to convene in one room after they came out divided from the party’s February 1-2 elective conference.
The elective conference results have seen a protracted tug-of-war between the outgoing executive and the elects.
On February 11, Thabane issued a seldom leadership letter in ABC administrative norms, announcing that the elective conference was still not over and would reconvene after all complaints concerning the results were dealt with.
While he avoided taking sides of feuding factions, his announcement favoured out-voted committee as it meant cementing its longer stay in power after denying their successor committee access to party office.
Having been characterised by protracted court battles for the past weeks, ABC intraparty strife has now escalated to a point where the outgoing national executive committee, whose tenure was extended by court order, is mulling suspension of secretary general ‘elect’ Lebohang Hlaele.
But now, in a bid to reconcile differences in the party, 21 legislators have summoned Thabane, requesting him to convene party parliamentary caucus and take charge of the party affairs to ensure its unification.
The ABC legislators’ caucus chairperson and Mabote constituency MP Fako Moshoeshoe told MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism the caucus would indeed convene on the said date.
He further confirmed authenticity of the letter petitioning Thabane and making rounds on social media citing need for the party to hold party parliamentary caucus.
Among other issues contained in their demands to Thabane, the 21 legislators from the ruling ABC have cited the need for newly elected NEC to assume administration of the party affairs.
The 21 petitioners also appeal to party leader there is a pressing need for respect of the “decisions of the elective conference as provided for in terms of 1 (b) on page 24 the party constitution”.
A translation of part of ABC’s constitution on the Chapter on purpose of the party annual general conference section 1 (b) reads: “…all the decisions of the elective conference are mandatory to everyone, and failure to implement such decisions will result in measures against such person or group, at worst, dismissal from the party”.
Meanwhile, the petitioners’ letter continues to read, “…we are also aware and thus appreciate that a case has been filed in the High Court for the court to decide on the matter but we believe you are capable of bringing together the two conflicting parties for the benefit of ABC”.
But, speculation is rife that Thabane, whose position was uncontested in the elective conference, is allegedly biased in favour of the retention of outgoing committee’s secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele against his son-in-law Hlaele.
The outgoing committee remains in office and has since been cemented by acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase’s interim order that barred the victors in this ABC poll from assuming administrative duties.
This is after Habofanoe Lehana, Keketso Sello and Mohapi Mohapinyane dragged the ABC, its national executive committee and 42 others respondents to court seeking nullification of the elective conference results.
The controversy marred election had ended with Professor Nqosa Mahao’s team garnering most positions in the conference.
It is this outcome that signalled underlying factionalism threatening to tear apart the country’s ruling coalition government leading partner.
Following the snap general elections of June 2017, ABC cobbled together its numbers with Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The Thabane led coalition has recently come under fire for various issues, and key has been poor service delivery as well as curbing pandemic police brutality across the country.
It is the conclusion of the petitioners that continued delays to allow new ABC leadership to assume administration functions of the party “compromises the ability of the party to attend to various needs of the general public”.