MASERU — Factions in the Basotho National Party (BNP) have hatched a plan to pay Metsing Lekhanya to leave office after their bid to remove him at the weekend conference stuttered, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
The plan to give Lekhanya a golden parachute was hatched three weeks ago by one of the factions as a Plan-B just in case they failed to remove him through a vote at the conference.
Although the majority voted in support of a no-confidence vote on Lekhanya at the conference the numbers did not make the 75 percent required by the constitution to oust him from power.
The Lesotho Times understands that at the centre of this soft-landing package for Lekhanya is a smaller faction in the BNP led by Thesele ’Maseribane, the chairperson for Mt Moorosi in Quthing.
The faction, a source said, believes that it might be difficult to remove Lekhanya through the vote.
Investigations have revealed that three weeks ago emissaries from ’Maseribane’s faction met Lekhanya at a house in Maseru West and sounded him out on the package which involved him being made an honorary life-president of the party and retaining his seat in parliament.
The meeting was held at Dr Nthabeseng Makoae’s house.
Makoae is close to ’Maseribane’s faction and the source said she is the brains behind this proposal.
A source close to ’Maseribane’s faction said Makoae also offered Lekhanya an office at the party headquarters as honorary president of the party if he agreed to step down.
A monthly salary, the source said, was also suggested.
“They also promised that he could continue to hold his seat in parliament under the PR seats,” the source said.
“Lekhanya did not respond to the suggestion but said he was prepared to listen to such a proposal,” the source added.
Makoae declined to comment when contacted this week.
The Lesotho Times understands that the dominant faction led by Moeketsi Hanyane also had an informal discussion about the package issue on Sunday night, the day Lekhanya narrowly escaped the chop.
The informal discussion happened at Maseru Sun where the faction members were waiting for the results of the vote at the conference.
The discussion, a source said, started after one member of the Hanyane faction had told the members that Lekhanya had said he wanted to meet him on Monday for a discussion.
The member was one of the most vocal delegates at the conference. He is understood to have told the faction that after the conference Lekhanya had requested a private meeting with him.
He asked faction members what they would do if Lekhanya was to request a package to relinquish power.
“Some members said there was no way the party would give him that. But one of them said it depended on the amount, the positional demands and the time frame,” the source said.
“That member said if it’s a reasonable amount and a once off payment then he would agree.
“There was then debate on who was going to fund that transaction and how the party would justify the creation of such posts.”
The source said the member said if Lekhanya was asking for an amount less than M100 000 then he was prepared to look for a sponsor to fund that payout.
The member was supposed to meet Lekhanya on Monday but the meeting fell through because the BNP leader was not available.
Professor Kopano Makoa, the man who is vying for Lekhanya’s post and who is said to have been told about this proposal by Makoae, this week told the Lesotho Times that he had not heard of the issue.
“If it presented itself as an issue I would ask if Lekhanya should be bought or we should just push him down the precipice,” Makoa said.
“Will he suffer materially if he relinquishes power? What has he done to the party to qualify for that? This has to be explained.”
Lekhanya denied that there was ever a discussion about a package for him.
“Nobody has ever talked to me about the proposal,” he said.
“This will clash with my principles. I believe that members of the BNP should exercise their rights to choose their own leader and this is what I stand for,” he added.
He said he believed that such information is coming from people who are desperate to remove him mainly because they are aware that the party is about to win a case which will allow it to get rentals from its BNP Centre building in Maseru. “They are after that money,” Lekhanya said.
He said over the past 10 years he has led the party he has been propping the party with his own money.
However Seabata Thabisi, one of the key members of the Hanyane faction, said he was against any attempt to cushion Lekhanya’s “imminent fall”.
“There is no need for that. Lekhanya is already on the door. Just one push and he will be out.”