Massive task to unite BNP

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MASERU — Newly elected Basotho National Party (BNP) Youth leader, Tšeliso Lesenya, says the league faces a mammoth task in uniting the faction-ridden party ahead of general elections next year. Lesenya was elected youth league president at a party conference held on November 26. A new youth league committee was also elected at the conference as cracks between factions led by party leader Thesele ’Maseribane and his nemesis Kopano Makoa widened. But speaking at a press conference on Friday, Lesenya pledged to foster unity among the different factions. He said their challenge was to woo back thousands of disgruntled BNP supporters who had become politically inactive. “Disunity is a major challenge that we have to conquer if we want the BNP to thrive as a party and have a meaningful participation in national politics,” Lesenya said. “Disunity is not limited to the BNP alone; the entire Basotho nation does not have a common purpose.”
Lesenya said the committee will seek to implement all resolutions reached at the November 26 elective conference. He said they were planning to embark on a membership revival campaign codenamed Operation ’Mamalente (Revival).
The BNP youth league said it had resolved to be the “unifier of the nation” by assisting the party to work for national unity. But the project to unify the party will not be easy for the BNP “Young Turks” amid charges that party hardliners are locked in an all-out fight for the right to represent the party in next year’s general election. The infighting has split the party along the old factional fault-lines. The pro-’Maseribane faction, which enjoys support of the new youth league committee, is said to be pushing to raise enough votes to secure parliamentary seats for ’Maseribane and those in his camp. On the other hand, an anti-’Maseribane camp is said to be preparing to nominate candidates to stand as independents in the general election in a bid to thwart ’Maseribane from getting into parliament. A close of Makoa who requested anonymity told the Lesotho Times this week that there are moves to vote for independent candidates as opposed to candidates selected by the party. The source the anti-’Maseribane camp was also working on a plot to bar Majara Molapo, the BNP stalwart who has recently rejoined the ’Maseribane faction, from standing in the parliamentary polls. He said this was the reason why Molapo decided to ditch the camp and made peace with ’Maseribane last month. “Majara Molapo was quite aware of this conspiracy and he became so angry that he dumped that camp and joined ’Maseribane’s faction,” the source said. Molapo however denied any knowledge of the campaign to prevent him from contesting in the parliamentary poll. He said he made peace with ’Maseribane because this was the most important thing for the party. “I am not the BNP and neither the leader is the BNP, so our difference of opinions should not cloud the future of the party,” Molapo said. “I am not aware that there are some who are campaigning to field independent candidates merely because they do not want Thesele to go to parliament.” He added: “That is stupidity. Are these people really BNP members?” Makoa also said he was not aware of plans to field independent candidates. He however said the youth league that was elected last month had its foundation built on platform of disunity created by ’Maseribane and his cohorts. “The committee ’Maseribane is heading created disunity in the party and this youth league was founded on that disunity,” Makoa, a political science lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, said. “If they really want unity they should go to the people they locked out of the BNP (during the elective conference in April) and perhaps the party will be itself again.
“I am one of the people ’Maseribane and his associates locked outside.”

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