MASERU — Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) leader Macaefa Billy says the split between his party and the All Basotho Convention (ABC) was instigated by people who felt he was becoming a threat to party leader Thomas Thabane.
Billy said there was a clique within the alliance that felt he was preparing to take over the leadership of the party from Thabane.
Billy blamed ABC chairman Molobeli Soulo for the collapse of the three-year alliance.
Billy charged that Soulo had told Thabane and other party members that he was planning to oust the party leader.
He also alleges that Soulo worked hand-in-glove with the party’s publicity secretary Thabo Thakalekoala to marginalise him so they could justify the split.
Thakalekoala worked hard to get me out because he wanted my job, he said.
“I think they feared me. They feared that I was getting too popular in the party and I was going to take over from Thabane,” Billy said in an interview on Tuesday.
“The ABC members seemed to identify with me more maybe because I am a young man. Maybe the old man (Thabane) was not speaking to them well.
“I think Thabo Thakalekoala (ABC publicity secretary) wanted the position.”
Billy spoke against the backdrop of the violence that ensued at an ABC rally in Mazenod on Sunday where Thabane’s bodyguards are alleged to have assaulted party members that were protesting against the dissolution of the alliance.
Thabane’s bodyguards are understood to have been irked when the supporters started saying Soulo should go because he was splitting the party. Among those beaten were LWP members.
The instruction to the bodyguards to clobber the youths came from the party leadership, witnesses said.
One of the victims of the violence said before the bodyguards descended on the mob they appeared to have consulted Thabane and Soulo.
She said she saw Thabane and Soulo nodding and after that the bodyguards went for the protesting members.
Billy says the incident does not surprise him because the ABC has a tendency to suppress dissenting voices and disregarding people’s views.
He says as secretary general of ABC, a position he got as part of the alliance deal, he has always been disturbed by how Thabane, Soulo and Thakalekoala ran the party like their “private café”.
He says in the last months of the alliance he had been barred from addressing rallies and Thabane and his lieutenants were having secret meetings that did not include him or the executive committee.
It is in those clandestine meetings that crucial decisions that affected the alliance were made and then handed to him for implementation, Billy says.
Thabane is however singing a different tune.
At yesterday’s press conference, which seemed to be a damage control exercise, Thabane said what had ended was the “alliance” and not the relationship with LWP.
He said the alliance was terminated because it was unconstitutional.
“That was a gentlemen’s agreement,” Thabane said in reference to the alliance.
“We will still work together in the parliamentary caucus,” he said.
But Billy seems not to be in a mood for a compromise.
When asked whether they will work with the ABC in parliament he said: “No, we are on our own. They will have to fight on their own.”
The ABC and the LWP are now “separate entities”, he said.
When asked about the violence at the rally Thabane seemed to justify the assault of the members. He said some errors are necessary.
“Beating a lunatic is an error but a constructive one.”
Asked to respond to Billy’s allegations, Soulo said it was unfair that Billy blames “his own failures on others”.
Thakalekoala was equally dismissive of Billy’s allegations.
“Billy is lying,” he said when asked about the allegations that he worked to end the alliance because he wanted Billy’s job.
“If there is one person that Billy should thank for keeping him in his post it is Thakalekoala,” he said.
“I always did his job and signed the circulars on his behalf because he was not doing his duty.”