MASERU — Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Metsing Lekhanya says his party will challenge a clause of the constitution of Lesotho allowing Seabata Thabisi to retain his seat in parliament despite his expulsion from the party.
The constitution allows an individual to retain his seat in parliament if he ceases to be a member of the party under whose ticket he was elected, through expulsion or voluntary resignation.
Thabisi is one of the top BNP officials expelled from the party last month after the party’s executive committee accused them of insubordination.
On Monday National Assembly speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai told the MPs that she had received a letter from the BNP informing her that Thabisi was no longer a member of the party.
“The letter informs the speaker that honourable Thabisi has been expelled from the party. He is (no longer) a BNP member,” Motsamai said.
Thabisi entered parliament under the proportional representation system representing the BNP in 2007.
The expulsion will not affect his seat in the National Assembly.
But a bitter Lekhanya says that might soon change because his party is planning to challenge the constitutionality of Thabisi’s continued stay in parliament.
He says he just wants Thabisi out of parliament because he was not elected to be there in the first place.
The party, Lekhanya said, was already working on bringing the matter to the courts.
“We are going to challenge the constitution in the courts of law to allow us to withdraw his (Thabisi’s) membership from parliament because he is no longer a BNP member,” Lekhanya said in an interview this week.
Thabisi’s seat, Lekhanya said, belongs to the BNP because it was given to him by the party through the proportional representation system.
“That seat belongs to the BNP,” Lekhanya insisted.
“The constitution is unfair in this respect because Thabisi did not win a constituency but he entered parliament as a BNP representative.”
Lekhanya said the constitution should be amended to allow parties to retain ownership of a parliamentary seat if they expel an MP.
Lekhanya blames the Interim Political Authority (IPA) for drafting the proportional representation law which prohibits a party from withdrawing its representative from parliament.
“The IPA has cruelly made it impossible for a party to withdraw a member from parliament,” Lekhanya said.
The IPA was set up after the 1998 political riots to set new ground rules for Lesotho’s politics.
“Political parties must be allowed to recall their representatives in parliament. We must have the right to replace Thabisi,” he added.
But Thabisi says he is not worried about the BNP’s attempts to remove him from parliament because “they are not likely to succeed”.
“I am going nowhere,” Thabisi said.
As for his expulsion from the party Thabisi said that has not stopped him from being a BNP member.
“I still consider myself a BNP member.”
He said instead of worrying about his expulsion he is working hard to topple Lekhanya at the party’s annual general conference next month.
The conference will be held on March 19.
“Actually we want to topple Lekhanya from the BNP’s leadership seat.
We are working hard to get him axed from the leadership seat at the general conference.”
“Although we are not going to attend the conference, the delegates will get him (Lekhanya) out of the leadership. We have already mobilised enough support.
“The new leadership will ensure that the expulsion is cancelled,” Thabisi said.
His expulsion from the party means that the BNP officially remains with two representatives in parliament until the end of the term in 2012.
Thabisi said he will not join another party as he still considers himself a BNP member.
Thabisi is part of a BNP faction that has been pushing for Lekhanya’s ouster since last year.
Lekhanya has called them renegades that want to change the leadership through unconstitutional means.