ABC cracks widen

...party probes Khasu over fail­ure to at­tend cru­cial meet­ing in Ficks­burg

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote and Keiso Mohloboli

CRACKS in the main op­po­si­tion All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) widened this week with deputy leader, Tlali Khasu, fail­ing to at­tend a cru­cial party meet­ing con­vened at ex­iled ABC leader Tom Tha­bane’s Ficks­burg hide­out.

Motim­poso con­stituency tuency Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP) Pitso Maisa was also ab­sent from thee meet­ing held on Tues­day. Mr Maisaaisa has since con­demned his ex­clu­sion­clu­sion at the meet­ing as a de­lib­er­ate rate at­tempt by se­nior ABC of­fi­cials to side­line him and Mr Khasu from party af­fairs.

Messrs Khasu and Maisa were the only ABC leg­is­la­tors s in par­lia­ment on Tues­day while thehe rest were in Ficks­burg to ex­ploree strate­gies of how best to pres­surise ise the gov­ern­ment into speed­ily im­ple­ment­ing the SADC in­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity as well as fi­nal­is­ing the se­lec­tion of two can­di­dates to rep­re­sent the op­po­si­tion in thehe Com­mon­wealth Par­lia­men­tary ry As­so­ci­a­tion this year. In­sid­ers ers told the Le­sotho Times that the meet­ing also dis­cussed prob­lems in the party, amongg them the fail­ure of ABC MPS to agree on com­mon po­si­tions to adopt on var­i­ous­ri­ous is­sues in par­lia­ment..

The ABC has 46 MPS in the 120-mem­ber mber Na­tional Assem­bly.ly. They all at­tendedd Tues­day’s meet­ingg with the ex­cep­tion of Messrs Khasu, Mai­saisa and five oth­ers.

How­ever, the five; Mot­lohi Maliehe, Sa­muel Ra­papa, ‘Mama­hele Radebe, Se­bokoto Molise and ‘ Ma­batšoe­neng Si­bolla had of­fi­cially ex­cused them­selves from the meet­ing as they had ur­gent busi­ness to at­tend else­where.

It was Mr Khasu’s fail­ure to at­tend that par­tic­u­larly raised eye­brows as the ABC deputy leader is known to have de­vel­oped frosty re­la­tions with his boss Dr Tha­bane. Mr Khasu has since been linked with a move to the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) be­cause of the al­leged fall­out with Dr Tha­bane. Mr Khasu has nonethe­less de­nied any dal­liance with the LCD though sources in the know in­sist in in­ter­views with the Le­sotho Times that it is no longer a mat­ter of if, but when the deputy ABC leader would de­fect to the LCD.

On why he did not at­tend the Ficks­burg meet­ing, Mr Khasu told the Le­sotho Times that he was not aware of the cau­cus meet­ing de­spite be­ing the party’s deputy leader.

“It ap­pears I was sent an SMS, but didn’t see the mes­sage as I’m not that con­ver­sant with th­ese text mes­sages,” said Mr Khasu on Tues­day evening.

Mr Khasu said he was not the only one who did not at­tend the cau­cus meet­ing.

“I don’t know other peo­ple’s rea­sons but I was not the only one who failed to at­tend the cau­cus. In any case, I know what the meet­ing is about and I will wait to hear its de­ci­sions,” said Mr Khasu, who is also the Peka con­stituency MP and for­mer Min­ing min­is­ter.

But while Mr Khasu tried to down­play his fail­ure to at­tend the cru­cial Ficks­burg meet­ing, Mr Maisa was scathing of some of his ABC col­leagues whom he ac­cused of try­ing to push him and Mr Khasu out of the party.

“We were shocked and em­bar­rassed at the same time to find out that our col­leagues were not in the Na­tional Assem­bly to­day. We were not in­formed about the meet­ing in Ficks­burg; it ap­pears to be some­thing be­ing done pur­posely and on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Maybe it is in­tended to tar­nish our im­age and make us ap­pear as though we are not sym­pa­thetic and sup­port­ive of the leader who has been liv­ing in ex­ile since May last year.

“What is worth men­tion­ing, though, is that there is some­thing go­ing on in the party; there are peo­ple try­ing to taint Khasu’s im­age as well as mine so that we leave the ABC.

“Khasu is faced with prob­lems sim­i­lar to those I en­coun­tered dur­ing our party’s pri­mary elec­tions in Motim­poso ahead of the 2015 elec­tions when some peo­ple did not want me to con­test. Khasu is fac­ing a sim­i­lar prob­lem in his Peka con­stituency where some party sup- porters want him out of the ABC, hence this de­lib­er­ate move not to in­form us about the meet­ing in Ficks­burg for us to ap­pear as if we are not loyal to the party.”

Asked why he be­lieved there were machi­na­tions to frus­trate him and Mr Khasu out of the ABC, Mr Maisa said it seemed that his crit­i­cism of how cer­tain is­sues were be­ing han­dled by the party had not gone down well with some party heavy­weights.

“The ABC seems to have peo­ple who be­lieve they can­not be crit­i­cised and if you do crit­i­cise them, they start cam­paign­ing for your dis­missal from the party.

“Crit­i­cal mem­bers of the party be­ing side­lined on important is­sues is some­thing that has been go­ing on in the ABC for a long time and be­came even stronger when the party formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with the BNP and LCD in 2012.

“I never get mes­sages when there are party cau­cuses and only get to know them through Khasu. About to­day’s meet­ing, I only got to know about it from or­di­nary mem­bers of the party, which is very em­bar­rass­ing. On Fri­day last week, we had a party meet­ing (in Maseru) and re­solved to meet on 28 April, so I didn’t know about to­day’s meet­ing hence I went to par­lia­ment as usual,” said Mr Maisa.

Mean­while, the ABC Par­lia­men­tary Cau­cus chair­per­son, Ma­joro Mo­hapi, said the cau­cus was never in­formed why Mr Khasu failed to at­tend the Ficks­burg meet­ing.

Mr Mo­hapi fur­ther said the party’s sec­re­tary gen­eral, Sa­monyane Nt­sekele, had since been as­signed to in­quire why Mr Khasu could not at­tend such a cru­cial meet­ing.

“When I spoke to him (Khasu), I picked from our con­ver­sa­tion that he knew about the cau­cus in Ficks­burg,” he said.

“As for Mr Maisa, I re­alised that the SMS I sent him had not been de­liv­ered so he gen­uinely did not know about the meet­ing.”

Asked if fail­ure by Mr Khasu to at­tend the meet­ing meant there could be prob­lems in the ABC, Mr Mo­hapi said: “We have pro­ce­dures and plat­forms that can be used by peo­ple who feel dis­grun­tled within the party.

“If an in­di­vid­ual has a prob­lem that needs to be re­solved by the party, the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee calls a spe­cial con­fer­ence to at­tend to the is­sue.”

On Mr Maisa’s al­le­ga­tions, Mr Mo­hapi said he did not know what the Motim­poso leg­is­la­tor was say­ing.

“He left our meet­ing on Fri­day last week be­fore it could end which is why he did not hear about the Ficks­burg cau­cus. So this is­sue of be­ing side­lined, I don’t know where it is com­ing from.”

How­ever, Mr Mo­hapi said the ABC was work­ing on uni­fy­ing all its MPS so they could speak with one voice in par­lia­ment.

“We are try­ing to in­stil a sense of co­op­er­a­tion among us, sup­port for one an­other and sym­pa­thy for each other dur­ing times of need.”

For his part, Dr Tha­bane said the party agreed to meet with him on a monthly ba­sis at his Ficks­burg home since he can­not be in par­lia­ment, hence Tues­day’s meet­ing. The for­mer prime min­is­ter fled Le­sotho in May last year claim­ing his life was in dan­ger from some mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force whom he ac­cused of plot­ting to kill him.

“The cau­cus was one of those meet­ings we are now hav­ing on a monthly ba­sis with MPS and NEC mem­bers to up­date me about par­lia­men­tary is­sues and the day-to-day run­ning of the ABC in my ab­sence.

“I won’t re­ally give you the de­tails of our meet­ing but I can only tell you that we usu­ally share ideas on how we can grow the party and also how best the MPS can work to­gether to ef­fec­tively rep­re­sent the op­po­si­tion in the Na­tional Assem­bly,” Dr Tha­bane said.

On the other hand, Mr Nt­sekele said Tues­day’s meet­ing had been fruit­ful and would not dwell on the ab­sence of Mr Khasu.

“The rea­son why the MPS failed to at­tend the cau­cus is an in­ter­nal is­sue that must be treated with con­fi­den­tial­ity within the party,” Mr Nt­sekele said.

ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu

ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu Motim­poso con­stituency MP Pitso Maisa.

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