BNP leadership in fresh turmoil

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MASERU — The Basotho National Party (BNP) is in fresh turmoil with two senior national executive members pushing for the ouster of embattled party leader Thesele ’Maseribane, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

BNP publicity secretary Letlafuoa Molapo and deputy secretary general ’Mota Nkuatsana are insisting that ’Maseribane is not the party’s legitimate leader.

’Maseribane was elected BNP leader in a controversial election in April that saw some delegates being barred from taking part in the poll.

His election is being challenged at the High Court.

The squabbling in the BNP could further weaken the former ruling party ahead of local government elections next month and general elections next year.

The Lesotho Times understands that Molapo and Nkuatsana have been boycotting meetings chaired by ’Maseribane arguing they did not recognise his leadership.

Matters came to a head on August 12 when the two walked out of a national executive meeting saying they could not bear watching ’Maseribane performing leadership duties after the High Court ruled that the party hold a fresh election.

The two argue that ’Maseribane’s decision to hang on to the leadership post was in defiance of a High Court judgment delivered on June 23 by Justice ’Maseforo Mahase.

Justice Mahase ruled that the party’s elective conference, at which ‘Maseribane was elected leader, was “irregular, null and void”.

In a letter addressed to BNP secretary general Ranthomeng Matete dated August 24, which this paper obtained, Molapo and Nkuatsana told the BNP executive committee that Justice Mahase had ordered the party to make “fresh, proper and necessary preparations for convening a new conference within 60 days” of the final court order.

“You will also note that to date, the national executive committee has done nothing in fulfillment of the stipulations of the court order as stated above,” the letter reads.

“On the contrary, Mr Thesele ’Maseribane continues to participate in national executive committee meetings and he entertains being addressed by others as such.”

Nkuatsana and Molapo further claim that despite having raised a point of order on the situation at the August 12 national executive committee meeting “the situation never changed”.

“The situation never changed even after a protest raised by the deputy secretary general and the publicity secretary in the meeting ultimo apropos (last month) to the presence of Mr Joang Molapo,” the letter reads.

Instead, they added, “the attitude by all the other members of the national executive committee present, with the exception of the president of the youth league (Ts’epo Monethi) and deputy chairperson (Thaabe Letsie) was one of patent intransigence”.

“That could only serve to convince us that we are dealing with a resolute demeanour to bring the court and honourable judge into disrepute, something which borders on contempt of court,” they said.

Molapo and Nkuatsana said they felt it was untenable for them to continue to be part of proceedings which are “by their very nature contemptuous of the court”.

“That notwithstanding, we continue to be loyal members of the national executive committee and will further take part in the meetings as stated above upon resolution of this impasse,” Molapo and Nkuatsana say.

Speaking to the Lesotho Times on Tuesday, Matete acknowledged receipt of the letter but said he was not in a position to discuss its contents in the press.

“I did get the letter but it’s not mine. As the secretary general mine is only to pass on information to the executive committee,” Matete said.

“The national executive committee is sitting on Tuesday next week to discuss the letter, among other things. Only after the meeting will I be in a position to comment.”

Asked if the discord in the executive meant the committee was split through the middle, Matete said he was also not in a position to delve into the matter.

Contacted for comment ’Maseribane said he knew about the letter.

“I’m unfazed by the mutterings of a few individuals because I was elected by a conference,” ’Maseribane said.

“I’m not threatened by anything. If people have their own agendas, let them pursue them. If people who voted for me no longer need me, we can go for a conference,” ’Maseribane said.

He said he was looking forward to the outcome of the appeal against Justice Mahase’s judgment.

“If the appeal upholds the June 23 judgment, we will call another conference. I will go to that conference having campaigned for people to vote me back into power,” he said.

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