THE All Basotho Convention Youth League (ABCYL) has thrown its weight behind party leader Thomas Thabane, saying it will do everything in its power to ensure he is re-elected at the party conference early next year.
The ABCYL also threatened to deal with suspended party chairperson Motlohi Maliehe and those who backed him in his defiance of Dr Thabane. They described Mr Maliehe as a “rebel” who ought to be disciplined.
ABCYL spokesperson Mphonyane Lebesa announced the youth league’s position at press conference in Maseru this week.
The ABCYL resolution follows the weekend party conference in Quthing which degenerated into chaos and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had to be rescued by his bodyguards from rowdy ABC members.
The bodyguards were forced to step in and eject from the conference room party members who heckled Dr Thabane after he took to the podium and pleaded with them to allow ABC deputy chairperson Kemiso Mosenene to chair the proceedings in place of suspended chairperson Motlohi Maliehe.
The outspoken Mr Maliehe was on Thursday suspended from his position for 12 months by the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) after he declined to appear before a disciplinary hearing in connection with his blistering public attack on the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane, in May this year.
But the battle lines have been drawn after Mr Maliehe told this publication that he would defy the suspension and tackle Dr Thabane head-on until the latter accepted defeat and stepped down as party leader.
Mr Maliehe told this publication that he would contest for a party post at the elective conference that is scheduled for 1 to 2 February 2019.
This week, Mr Lebesa sought to downplay the impact of Mr Maliehe as well as the chaotic events of the Quthing conference, saying these were minor challenges which did not affect the party’s cohesion and unity.
“While we are having some challenges in our party, it is still worth noting that we remain intact as ever and we are going to deal with all those who disrespected our leader at last week’s conference in Quthing,” Mr Lebesa said.
“Anyone who wages a war against our leader is surely waging it against us and people should know that we are not going to tolerate any rebellious behaviour like that displayed by the party’s chairperson, Mr Maliehe.
“He lost the plot when he announced that he was ready to take over at a rally held in Hololo (Butha-Buthe) early this year. He should know that ABC has only one leader and that leader is Ntate Thabane.”
In May this year, Mr Maliehe grabbed headlines when he launched a blistering attack on Ms Thabane while addressing a rally in Hololo constituency in the Butha-Buthe district.
Mr Maliehe accused Ms Thabane of fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He demanded that the First Lady stops meddling in state affairs forthwith or risk derailing the government.
The ABC chairperson accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.
His utterances provoked an immediate response from Dr Thabane who was quoted in some sections of the media as having said that Mr Maliehe should pack his bags and leave his party and government positions.
Dr Thabane made good on his threats by firing Mr Maliehe from his cabinet post as Tourism minister a fortnight ago. The ABC’s national executive committee followed this up last week by suspending Mr Maliehe over the same issue.
And this week, Mr Lebesa accused Mr Maliehe of seeking to “shake the foundations of the party” with his utterances at the May rally.
“This (Mr Maliehe) is a man who is third in command in the party’s NEC and he knows the administration like the back of his hand. But still he chose to misdirect himself thus bringing the party into disrepute.
“We therefore appeal to all party members to tread carefully on this matter so as to avoid frustration and instability,” Mr Lebesa said.
Another youth league member, Ntobeng Moloi, said the chaos at the Quthing conference “was meant to show treachery against the party leader”.
“That was treacherous behaviour against our leader and as the youth we shall not support such acts regardless of who leads them.
“While we admit that there are some challenges including intolerance in the party, we shall not cease to preach unity and oneness among ourselves.
“By breaking into songs that were meant to disrupt the conference, such members should accept that they have forfeited their democratic right to be heard,” Mr Moloi said, adding aggrieved party members should follow the proper channels to express their concerns instead of communicating them through the media.