Pres­sure mounts on Nt­sekele to step down

Lesotho Times - - News - Bongiwe Zih­langu

Pres­sure is mount­ing on All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) sec­re­tary Gen­eral (sg) sa­monyane Nt­sekele, to step down and “make room for more ca­pa­ble hands”.

so in­tense is the pres­sure that Nt­sekele’s deputy, Le­bo­hang Hlaele, who is ABC leader and Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s sonin-law, has al­ready been ear­marked for the post, ac­cord­ing to two highly-placed ABC sources who spoke to the Le­sotho Times this week.

Mr Nt­sekele, the sources fur­ther re­vealed, came un­der se­vere crit­i­cism dur­ing a re­cent con­fer­ence of ABC com­mit­tees in which some del­e­gates al­legedly wanted him re­moved from the post for in­com­pe­tence.

Lead­ing the fac­tion call­ing for Nt­sekele to step down, the sources fur­ther al­leged, was the premier’s daugh­ter, ‘Ma­batšoe­neng Hlaele, née Nkoya Tha­bane.

How­ever, the sources added, the mat­ter could not be dis­cussed fur­ther as it did not form part of the con­fer­ence’s agenda, and was there­fore “re­ferred to the ex­ec­u­tive for con­sid­er­a­tion at the next spe­cial con­fer­ence”.

Ac­cord­ing to one of the sources, who is a mem­ber of the party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC), Mr Hlaele was, by com­par­i­son, the best man to hold the of­fice of sec­re­tary gen­eral be­cause of his ex­po­sure and ex­pe­ri­ence in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­tures hav­ing, among oth­ers, par­tic­i­pated in the Free state Provin­cial Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional union of Minework­ers (NUM).

“He also cur­rently fea­tures in the African Na­tional Congress (ANC) struc­tures in the Free state, due to his im­mense ex­pe­ri­ence in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of or­gan­i­sa­tions,” the source said.

“Nt­sekele, on the other hand, has no ex­pe­ri­ence of party struc­tures and enough po­lit­i­cal ex­po­sure, hence his dis­mal per­for­mance as sec­re­tary gen­eral.”

The source added: “even at the party’s elec­tive con­fer­ence which made him sec­re­tary gen­eral, there were con­cerns that elect­ing him into that po­si­tion would prove dis­as­trous in the long run, but he pre­vailed.”

Asked what re­ally tran­spired in the con­fer­ence, the source said some del­e­gates were un­happy with the poor per­for­mance of the NEC, par­tic­u­larly the of­fice of the sec­re­tary gen­eral, and de­manded an ex­pla­na­tion.

“They were at­tack­ing the of­fice of the SG, which in­cludes his deputy Ntate Hlaele. Ntate Hlaele had to de­fend him­self and ex­plained to the con­fer­ence that the sg was the one in charge of the of­fice,” the source said.

“That’s where his wife, ‘M’e ‘Ma­batšoe­neng came in to de­fend her hus­band. she was not nec­es­sar­ily at­tack­ing Nt­sekele, but she had to stand up for her hus­band be­cause Nt­sekele is in charge of the of­fice, while Ntate Hlaele works out of the coun­try most of the time.”

Ac­cord­ing to the source, a group of del­e­gates seem­ingly with in­flu­ence from Ms Hlaele, who had made the pro­posal from the floor that Mr Nt­sekele’s fate be dis­cussed then, were fiercely de­mand­ing that if the SG could not man­age his du­ties as both the premier’s Po­lit­i­cal Ad­vi­sor and sg “he should re­lin­quish one of the posts”.

“They were adamant that he should step down and although they did not say it out loud, one could tell by tak­ing pre­vi­ous events into con­sid­er­a­tion that they want Nt­sekele to step down,” the source said.

“If he does de­cide to re­sign, as he can­not be re­moved be­cause he was elected by a con­fer­ence, that will pave the way for the leader to use his dis­cre­tion, and ap­point Ntate Hlaele to the po­si­tion of sec­re­tary gen­eral.”

How­ever, the source added that the mat­ter could not be dis­cussed by that par­tic­u­lar con­fer­ence as it was not part of the agenda, but was re­ferred to the NEC for con­sid­er­a­tion, to be dis­cussed at the party’s next spe­cial con­fer­ence.

“All the rec­om­men­da­tions made in that con­fer­ence will be sub­mit­ted to the NEC for con­sid­er­a­tion by a spe­cial con­fer­ence, which is the only body that can de­cide to re­move him,” the source said.

“But, by propos­ing that Nt­sekele be re­moved from his po­si­tion for in­com­pe­tence, ‘M’e ‘Ma­batšoe­neng has set the ball the rolling.”

How­ever, the source was quick to add that although they were not happy with Mr Nt­sekele’s per­for­mance “some of us do not embrace the idea of our leader’s son-in-law be­com­ing sg”.

“It will be dan­ger­ous be­cause the ABC will au­to­mat­i­cally be­come fam­ily prop­erty. We don’t want that but we will see what hap­pens in the long run,” the source said.

Mean­while, another source at the ABC head­quar­ters, told the Le­sotho Times the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the party was suf­fer­ing be­cause “Nt­sekele is a hoarder who doesn’t want to share work with his deputy”, adding Mr Hlaele was “a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive”.

“If I had my way, I’d have Ntate Hlaele any day as the party’s sg. since Nt­sekele took over, the party’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is worse than at any other time,” the source said.

“Nt­sekele is al­ways be­hind sched­ule and now there are com­plaints from the con­stituen­cies be­cause vi­tal in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments never reach peo­ple on time.”

The source added: “If you were to come to the of­fice now, you would re­alise that ev­ery­thing is a mess. The man just doesn’t seem to have time for his ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.”

A des­per­ate sug­ges­tion, that another mem­ber of the party’s NEC be as­signed some du­ties to re­lieve him, the source fur­ther re­vealed, was al­legedly met with hos­til­ity by Mr Nt­sekele, who also lob­bied his col­leagues in the ex­ec­u­tive to fight the mo­tion, nearly lead­ing to a split in the ABC ex­ec­u­tive com- mit­tee.

“The man thought he was be­ing stripped of his du­ties and now feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble. He had to fight and lobby his friends in the NEC to gang up against this other mem­ber,” the source said.

“But the mat­ter was even­tu­ally solved by the other mem­ber not as­sum­ing any du­ties of the of­fice of the SG.”

How­ever, the source pointed out that when the ABC de­cided to in­tro­duce the po­si­tion of deputy sec­re­tary gen­eral “it was to take the load off the sg”.

“The decision to in­tro­duce the new po­si­tion at the last elec­tive con­fer­ence, was to lighten the SG’S load and for the two of­fices to split du­ties, but shar­ing is not an op­tion for Nt­sekele,” the source said.

Con­tacted for com­ment on Mon­day, Ms Hlaele told the Le­sotho Times she was not at lib­erty to dis­cuss what tran­spired in that con­fer­ence “be­cause it was a closed meet­ing”.

“As cus­to­dian of the party and as a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple, Mr Nt­sekele is the only one with the au­thor­ity to dis­cuss party is­sues with the me­dia. He is also the only one who can grant me per­mis­sion to speak to the me­dia,” Ms Hlaele said.

“Please go and seek a com­ment from Mr Nt­sekele and ask him on my be­half, if he gives me the per­mis­sion to com­ment in the me­dia about that meet­ing.”

How­ever, asked if it was true that she was lob­by­ing for her hus­band to be­come party sg, Ms Hlaele sug­gested that “it is im­pos­si­ble”.

“The al­le­ga­tion is wrong. In the con­sti­tu­tion of the ABC, there’s no au­to­matic as­sump­tion of po­si­tions,” Ms Hlaele said.

How­ever, the Le­sotho Times un­der­stands the con­sti­tu­tion of the ABC makes pro­vi­sion for the party’s ex­ec­u­tive to use its dis­cre­tionary pow­ers to fill va­cant po­si­tions in the decision-mak­ing body.

In the event that Mr Nt­sekele de­cides to re­sign, the leader of the ABC can use sec­tion B (1) (i), to fill any va­cant po­si­tion in the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

The sec­tion notes, un­der “Func­tions of the ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee”, that the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee will “fill any va­cant po­si­tions that oc­cur dur­ing its ten­ure of of­fice” and that “the va­can­cies should be filled in line with the pro­vi­sions of sec­tion C (1) of the ABC con­sti­tu­tion”.

Ac­cord­ing to the ABC con­sti­tu­tion, to be el­i­gi­ble for the po­si­tion, a can­di­date needs to have paid his or her an­nual sub­scrip­tion fee, needs to have been a mem­ber of a con­stituency com­mit­tee for at least 36 months, has to have been a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive at one point as well as fa­mil­iar­ity with the con­sti­tu­tion and the abil­ity to pro­tect it should need arise.

Con­tacted for com­ment on Tues­day, Mr Nt­sekele was mod­est in his re­sponse, say­ing it was news to him that the pres­sure on him to quit had to do with Mr Hlaele adding: “I’m not aware that there’s an ul­te­rior mo­tive.

“When ‘M’e Nkoya said the things she said in that meet­ing, I be­lieved she was gen­uinely speak­ing from the point of view of a con­cerned mem­ber of the ABC.”

Asked what his view was on claims that he was in­ex­pe­ri­enced com­pared to Mr Hlaele and that he was a hoarder, Mr Nt­sekele said: “Those are merely peo­ple’s al­le­ga­tions and I will not en­ter­tain them. As far as I know, we work just fine with Mr Hlaele.

“And who­ever says I’m in­ex­pe­ri­enced, it’s their business. I’m still do­ing my job to the best of my abil­ity and my in­ter­est is to serve the ABC.

“What other peo­ple say is none of my business, be­cause my in­ter­est is solely on the ABC.”

Asked why he was tak­ing such se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions lightly, Mr Nt­sekele said as the party’s ad­min­is­tra­tor “mine is to pro­tect the ABC and re­frain from at­tack­ing other peo­ple or re­spond­ing in a man­ner that puts the party into dis­re­pute”.

Mean­while, there was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Mr Hlaele.

ABC SG of­fice­hold­ers since 2006

Mot­latsi Matekane (2006-2008. Found­ing sec­re­tary-gen­eral who led the party to its first elec­tive con­fer­ence); Ma­caefa Billy (20082010); sam ra­papa (2010-2011); Thabiso Litšiba (2011-2013); Futho Hoohlo (20132014); sa­monyane Nt­sekele (Fe­bru­ary 2014 to-date).

FILE PIC: ABC leader, Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane (right) chats with the party’s SG Sa­monyane Nt­sekele

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