BNP holds cri­sis talks

...as fac­tion plots BNP leader’s ouster

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Keiso Mohloboli

EX­ILED Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane has called for a cri­sis meet­ing in Ladybrand to­day amid re­ports of a group of party mem­bers seek­ing his ouster.

The meet­ing would be held ahead of the BNP’s elec­tive con­fer­ence sched­uled for 29 April to 1 May 2016 in Maseru dur­ing which the party is go­ing to choose a new Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC).

Chief ‘Maserib­ane’s po­si­tion is not be­ing con­tested dur­ing the con­fer­ence since he was nom­i­nated BNP leader in March 2011 for a five-year term. The BNP leader has been liv­ing in Ladybrand since he fled Le­sotho in May last year say­ing he feared for his life.

How­ever, BNP in­sid­ers have said a fac­tion al­legedly led by Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral (SG) Le­so­jane Leuta would be tar­get­ing the party’s deputy leader, Joang Mo­lapo, at the up­com­ing con­fer­ence and if they suc­ceed to re­move him from the post, then pass a vote-of-no-con­fi­dence in Chief ‘ Maserib­ane. Chief Mo­lapo and other NEC mem­bers were elected in 2014 for two-year terms.

Among the BNP faith­ful ex­pected to at­tend to­day’s meet­ing are 160 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the country’s 80 con­stituen­cies and mem­bers of the NEC, and top of the agenda is the in­fight­ing and plot to re­move Chief ‘ Maserib­ane and Chief Mo­lapo, the in­sid­ers fur­ther said. How­ever, Mr Leuta yes­ter­day told the

Sun­day Ex­press he would not at­tend the meet­ing for “se­cu­rity rea­sons”.

The SG wrote a let­ter to Chief Mo­lapo, and copied it to Chief ‘Maserib­ane as well as other NEC mem­bers, in­di­cat­ing he would not at­tend to­day’s meet­ing in South Africa be­cause he feared for his life.

In the let­ter dated 14 April 2016, Mr Leuta says he was “re­li­ably in­formed by au­thor­i­ta­tive in­tel­li­gence that there is a plot to kill me… There­fore, I won’t be able to at­tend any BNP meet­ing across the bor­der.”

Mr Leuta told the Sun­day Ex­press he was ad­vised by his lawyer not to at­tend the meet­ing.

“Af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the mat­ter and ad­vice from my lawyer, I de­cided not to at­tend any BNP meet­ing across the bor­der be­cause I fear for my life. I would be proud to die in my homeland and not in a for­eign country,” he said.

Asked who was plot­ting to kill him and the rea­son be­hind such a plot, Mr Leuta said some of his BNP col­leagues were not happy when he asked why the party was said to be broke when it had some in­comegen­er­at­ing as­sets.

“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 can­not hold con­fer­ences.”

Mr Leuta said he never said the money was stolen but that there was no clear fi­nan­cial re­port in­di­cat­ing what had 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 ex­act 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.”

The SG said he hired pri­vate se­cu­rity per­son­nel “given the real risk to my safety”, adding that his fam­ily was also con­cerned about his well-be­ing.

Con­tacted for com­ment, BNP spokesper- son Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe con­firmed to­day’s meet­ing, telling the Sun­day Ex­press: “Morena Th­e­sele has called a meet­ing for Sun­day, 17 April 2016 in Ladybrand, South Africa.

“We can’t deny that a lot has hap­pened in his ab­sence and we are now head­ing for an elec­tive con­fer­ence.

“It’s time we hear what he has to say about the al­leged fac­tions in the party he is lead­ing be­cause he has been very quiet.

“We will also dis­cuss the elec­tive con­fer­ence be­cause it will be held in his ab­sence. All in all, we are go­ing to share opinions and map the way for­ward re­gard­ing the up­com­ing elec­tive con­fer­ence.”

How­ever, Mr Mo­fo­mobe scoffed at the SG’s al­le­ga­tions of a plot to kill him, say­ing they sug­gested “a des­per­ate man and at­ten­tion-seeker”.

“Th­ese are des­per­ate times for Ntate Leuta be­cause he can fore­see that his time as the party’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral has ex­pired,” said Mr Mo­fo­mobe.

“It is not among his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to es­tab­lish whether the party is mak­ing money or not. Only trea­surer-gen­eral Mothepu Mo­liko has that man­date.”

He added there was no au­dit or fi­nan­cial re­port pre­sented at any of the NEC meet­ings that showed fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

For his part, Chief ‘Maserib­ane yes­ter­day said Mr Leuta’s al­le­ga­tions had con­vinced him the SG needed “ur­gent med­i­cal at­ten­tion”.

“Let me give you a brief back­ground about Leuta and BNP NEC meet­ings,” said Chief ‘Maserib­ane.

“Leuta has al­ways made ex­cuses since 2014 that he was sick when he was sup­posed to at­tend NEC meet­ings. But what was shocking was he never got sick when he at­tended Na­tional Assem­bly port­fo­lio com­mit­tee meet­ings.

“Now that he claims he would be killed if he comes for to­mor­row’s meet­ing, I think the sick­ness has in­ten­si­fied to dam­age his brain be­cause I am not a mur­derer and have not killed any­one. Ev­ery time I call ex­ec­u­tive meet­ings, I don’t dis­cuss killing party fol­low­ers but party poli­cies,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

“Leuta’s prob­lem is he thinks he is the party’s jewel that can stop BNP busi­ness. He must know that he is not a threat ei­ther to me or the party and must stop the non­sense of bring­ing hearsay to ruin im­por­tant party busi­ness.”

BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane

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