Lesotho Times

‘Lekhanya annointed Makoa’

MASERU — Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Metsing Lekhanya suggested as far back as 2007 that Professor Kopano Makoa could succeed him, an expelled party official has said.
Mothobi Moholi who was the BNP’s deputy secretary general from 2005 to 2007 and was part of the group of seven party members who were expelled last week said Lekhanya is the one who mooted the idea to have Makoa succeed him during the 2007 general conference.
Moholi said Lekhanya had indicated that he was keen to step down if the party did not do well in the February 2007 general elections.
But when the party was thrashed in that election, Lekhanya changed tack, Moholi said. 
“He agreed (that he would step down) and when we asked if he saw any perfect candidate for the position of BNP leader he recommended Professor Makoa,” said Moholi, adding that they were surprised when the former military ruler changed heart and opted to stay on.
“We were only taken aback when he later declined to step down and people who were opposing his leadership style were prevented from entering the hall where the conference was being held.”
Scores of senior party officials were barred from the 2007 conference that retained Lekhanya as party leader. 
Moholi is one of the key members of the faction that has been pushing for Lekhanya’s ousting.  The faction is accusing Lekhanya of failing to grow the BNP’s dwindling support base and using dictatorial measures to run the party.
Three weeks ago the faction announced that it preferred Makoa to succeed Lekhanya at the party’s national conference set for March 19 this year.
Two weeks later the party announced that the faction’s senior members that included Moholi, Moeketsi Hanyane and Seabata Thabisi (MP) had been dismissed from the party for insubordination.
Although the party denies it, expelled members allege that they were pushed out because they wanted to effect leadership change at the party’s annual conference.
Yet Moholi said it was Lekhanya who started the succession debate just before the 2007 election. 
Thabisi who is an MP on the BNP ticket said he had also spoken to Lekhanya about the idea to have Makoa succeed him.
He said so keen was Lekhanya on the idea that “I suggested that I could give my parliamentary seat to Makoa so they can start working together”.
“I was not elected to parliament but I am there because of the PR seats (system). So I told Lekhanya that I could resign and give my seat to Makoa as part of the plan,” Thabisi said.
Thabisi said they had this conversation when Lekhanya visited his home just before the 2007 elections.
“I had just come out of hospital and Lekhanya had visited me. The idea came up during that conversation,” he said.
“Lekhanya asked me if I was aware that if I resign from parliament I would be leaving my pension and I said yes.”
“I told him I was doing it for the party. I wanted the party to progress. Lekhanya said he would talk to Makoa about the issue.”
It seems Lekhanya never talked to Makoa about the suggestion, Thabisi said.
“Later when I called Makoa to ask him about the issue he just said he was not prepared to leave his job at the university to go into politics fulltime.”
Thabisi had been the party’s treasurer since 1999 until 2007 when he was barred from attending the conference for allegedly accusing Lekhanya of having lost touch with the party’s supporters.
Hanyane who was the BNP youth league president for five years until 2007 when he clashed with Lekhanya told the Lesotho Times that the suggestion to replace the leader came after they realised the party was losing support under his administration.
“This is a serious concern for us and we felt that he should peacefully step down and leave the party with people who would return it back to its original strength,” Hanyane said.
“That was why his friend Ntate Thabisi was sent to him to politely ask him to step down in dignity.”
Contacted for comment, Lekhanya said he never suggested he wanted Makoa to succeed him.
“It is a blatant lie fabricated by Thabisi,” Lekhanya said.
“I have never indicated (any intention) to step down. I never said I had become too fatigued to lead the BNP. Only a conference can make that decision.”
According to Lekhanya, the only time Makoa was approached by the BNP was when he was requested to submit his name for the party’s top 10 PR candidates.
“We did not want to just nominate him without his consent. We approached him and he agreed to be in line for a PR seat in parliament,” Lekhanya said.
He said he did not believe that Makoa had the right qualities to lead the party because “he is not a consistent person”.
“My personal opinion is that Makoa was not cut out to be a leader. He lacks consistency,” Lekhanya said.
“He deceived the BNP by joining the National Progressive Party (NPP), only to somersault and rejoin us.
“If he cannot be true to himself, how can we expect him to be a credible and committed leader of this party?”
“He is supporting a faction fighting with the BNP. In 2009, he also expressed to the conference how he did not have confidence in both the conference and the party.
Lekhanya added that the pro-Makoa faction should form their own party and leave the BNP alone.
“I appeal to those people to leave us alone and start their own thing,” Lekhanya said.
“They should just form their own party and leave us in peace.”

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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