‘Maserib­ane fights for sur­vival

…as BNP leader meets party sup­port­ers for cru­cial ind­aba ahead of elec­tions

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

LADYBRAND — Ex­iled Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane was talk­ing tough on Sun­day as he met party sup­port­ers in Ladybrand amid re­ports of a plot to re­move him from his post.

Chief ‘Maserib­ane fled Le­sotho on 13 May 2015 and has since been liv­ing in South Africa. The BNP leader in­sists he had to seek refuge across the bor­der af­ter be­ing re­li­ably in­formed some Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers were al­legedly plan­ning to kill him. His op­po­si­tion coun­ter­parts — All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho lead­ers, Thomas Tha­bane and Keketso Ran­tšo, re­spec­tively — also fled the country the same month cit­ing sim­i­lar fears. The LDF has since de­nied th­ese claims.

How­ever, it has since emerged some BNP mem­bers want to re­move Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, his deputy Joang Mo­lapo, chair­per­son Dr Nthabiseng Makoae and spokesper­son Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe dur­ing the party’s elec­tive con­fer­ence sched­uled for 29 April to 1 May.

But in an ef­fort to re-as­sert his au­thor­ity, Chief ‘ Maserib­ane called Sun­day’s cri­sis meet­ing which was at­tended by con­stituency rep­re­sen­ta­tives and some mem­bers of the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC).

Among the NEC mem­bers who did not at­tend were Mr Mo­fo­mobe, sec­re­tary gen­eral Le­so­jane Leuta, Gaut­eng Prov­ince rep­re­sen­ta­tive Isaac Mat­lapeng, deputy sec­re­tary gen­eral Mariam Ma­puru and north­ern re­gion or­gan­iser Lite­boho ‘Mota.

How­ever, Mr Leuta had said he would not at­tend the meet­ing be­cause he had been alerted of a plot to kill him once in South Africa.

Mr Leuta is said to be among the BNP mem­bers op­posed to Chief ‘Maserib­ane’s lead­er­ship of the party, which he as­sumed in March 2011.

Speak­ing af­ter Sun­day’s meet­ing, Chief ‘Maserib­ane told the Le­sotho Times that some NEC mem­bers and BNP par­lia­men­tar­i­ans had taken ad­van­tage of his ex­ile and were cre­at­ing fac­tions and caus­ing con­fu­sion in the party.

He promised stern ac­tion against such mem­bers be­fore next week’s con­fer­ence where a new NEC would be elected.

“I wouldn’t want to talk about names here be­cause the peo­ple who are go­ing to face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion know who they are.

“Th­ese peo­ple have been caus­ing con­fu­sion in the party and that is why I called this meet­ing to­day to clear the air and talk about what is hap­pen­ing in the BNP. As their leader, I am not happy with how party is­sues are be­ing dealt with.

“Ev­ery party has an oath of con­fi­den­tial­ity and if the NEC agrees on cer­tain is­sues, it be­comes the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery mem­ber to obey such de­ci­sions and not go against them.

“Again, it has be­come the norm for party mem­bers to dis­grace each other through the me­dia, which should not be the case,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

“Then again, I wanted to thank Morena Joang and urge our sup­port­ers to re­spect him for the bat­tles he has been fight­ing for the BNP since he was elected deputy leader in 2014.

“Morena Joang has been work­ing tire­lessly with our op­po­si­tion al­lies (ABC and BNP) to high­light the country’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity in­sta­bil­ity be­fore the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity with the hope of in­ter­ven­tion to end th­ese chal­lenges.

“I am not cam­paign­ing for Morena Joang when the elec­tions are held next week, but since there is spec­u­la­tion of a camp which wants to vote him out of of­fice and af­ter­wards, the same group passes a vote-of-no-con­fi­dence in me, I want BNP mem­bers to fol­low our con­sti­tu­tion in what­ever they do and don’t want them to get con­fused by peo­ple who don’t want the party to be united sim­ply be­cause they are power-hun­gry.”

Chief ‘ Maserib­ane also re­it­er­ated his ear­lier state­ment that he would only re­turn to Le­sotho when the govern­ment has fired LDF Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli.

“I re­main firm about what I have been preach­ing all along that Le­sotho has no peace and sta­bil­ity and that Kamoli is the country’s se­cu­rity threat.

“The Prime Min­is­ter (Pakalitha Mo­sisili) must im­ple­ment SADC’S rec­om­men­da­tions and re­move Kamoli as army com­man­der, re- lease de­tained sol­diers ac­cused of mutiny and fa­cil­i­tate our safe re­turn from ex­ile,” he said.

“With­out th­ese con­di­tions be­ing met, I will re­main here in ex­ile be­cause like I said, I would not feel safe in Le­sotho know­ing Kamoli is still the com­man­der since he was the rea­son we fled the country in the first place.”

On his part, Chief Mo­lapo said he was con­fi­dent of out­polling his op­po­nent, Lim­pho Tau of Tey­ateya­neng con­stituency, in the up­com­ing elec­tion.

“I have no rea­son not to be con­fi­dent about win­ning the elec­tion be­cause I have been loyal to the party and de­liv­er­ing on my man­date.

“I can’t over­look the fact that no one can be sup­ported by ev­ery­one but I am con­fi­dent of vic­tory with­out bad­mouthing other peo­ple. In 2014, 80 per­cent of the peo­ple voted for me, which means 20 per­cent of them did not want me in that po­si­tion but still, I be­lieve I have done enough to con­vince our mem­bers that I can serve the party ef­fec­tively,” Chief Mo­lapo said.

Asked if he was aware some BNP sup­port­ers want him out for al­legedly abus­ing party funds, Chief Mo­lapo said he could ac­count for ev­ery penny he used that be­longed to the party.

“I am aware of such al­le­ga­tions, but I am not a thief and I am not afraid to be in­ves­ti­gated. Th­ese peo­ple are just try­ing to im­press their sup­port­ers by mak­ing such false al­le­ga­tions. They are dou­ble-faced liars who lie about every­thing. For in­stance, they have been lying that they did not know about the op­po­si­tion agree­ment not to take Na­tional Assem­bly trips and sit­ting in par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees,” Chief Mo­lapo said.

“As we speak, there are peo­ple who are claim­ing there is a plot to kill them hence they could not at­tend to­day’s meet­ing. This ex­cuse is sim­ply child­ish be­cause why would we want to kill any­body? Peo­ple who make such claims are just try­ing to cover-up their weak­nesses be­cause they can’t cam­paign bas­ing them­selves on per­for­mance and what they would do for the party.

“Again, I did not be­come ac­tive in BNP pol­i­tics be­cause I wanted fi­nan­cial gain from the party. I am also not the trea­surer so I don’t have ac­cess to party funds.

“I have not stolen any money from the BNP; in fact, I have been con­tribut­ing for the party’s func­tions so it is an in­sult for any­one to ac­cuse me of steal­ing from the party.

“It is also an in­sult for any­one to say I am afraid of be­ing re­moved from my po­si­tion be­cause the money I am sup­posed to have stolen would be ex­posed.”

Mean­while, prior to Sun­day’s meet­ing, Mr Leuta said his ques­tion­ing of what hap­pened to party funds had cre­ated him en­e­mies.

“I felt it was mis­lead­ing for ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers to de­clare that the party was broke to the me­dia when they have failed to say what hap­pened to the money,” he said.

“I be­lieve I ruf­fled feath­ers when I doubted that the party was broke to the ex­tent that it could not hold con­fer­ences.”

How­ever, Mr Leuta said he never said the money had been stolen but that there was no clear fi­nan­cial re­port in­di­cat­ing what hap­pened to the funds.

“For in­stance, a prop­erty agent who has been run­ning the BNP Cen­tre owes our party a lot of money,” he said.

“I can’t be spe­cific about the amount, but it should be mil­lions. There are also other party as­sets and it is not clear where all the money they gen­er­ate is go­ing.”

Mr Leuta also said he had since hired pri­vate se­cu­rity “given the real risk to my safety”, adding his fam­ily was also con­cerned about his safety.

BNP sup­port­ers lis­ten to Chief ‘Maserib­ane in Ladybrand on Sun­day

BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane ad­dresses party sup­port­ers in Ladybrand on Sun­day.

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