New army boss defies orders
Acting LDF commander Major General Khoantle Motsomotso defies Government Secretary’s directive to withdraw soldiers assigned to fired Communications minister Selibe Mochoboroane.
ACTING Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Major General Khoantle Motšomotšo, has defied Government Secretary (GS) Moahloli Mphaka’s directive to withdraw army personnel assigned to fired Communications, Science and Technology minister Selibe Mochoboroane.
Mr Mochoboroane was relieved of his ministerial duties on 16 October 2014, allegedly for denying Prime Minister Thomas Thabane coverage by the state media.
However, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Acting Spokesperson has continued to perform his ministerial functions after party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, rejected the dismissal.
Mr Metsing argues Dr Thabane cannot fire an LCD minister as this violates the consultative agreement the three ruling parties — LCD, Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Thesele ‘Maseribane — signed when they formed a coalition government in June 2012.
Dr Thabane on 7 November 2014 filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order to compel Mr Mochoboroane to vacate the ministerial post, but the case was deferred to 16 March 2015 by Justice Teboho Moiloa.
Mr Mochoboroane’s salary and benefits have allegedly since been suspended “pending the court outcome to determine his legal status” although he vehemently denies this and remains in office.
But in a letter dated 28 November 2014, Mr Mphaka instructs Defence and National Security Principal Secretary (PS), Thato Mohasoa, to “advise” Major General Motšomotšo to release LDF staff assigned to Mr Mochoboroane as part of his ministerial benefits, since he was no longer a minister.
Major General Motšomotšo was appointed Acting Commander in line with the Maseru Security Accord signed on 23 October 2014. Under the accord, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao of the LDF, and Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana, were supposed to go to an African or Commonwealth country on special leave for specified periods to allow the restoration of cordial relations between the army and police. During their leave of absence their deputies would lead the two security agencies, hence Mr Mphaka’s letter to Mr Mohasoa, regarding Major General Motšomotšo, who is LDF Deputy Commander.
“Please be advised that Honourable Selibe Mochoboroane has been relieved of his duty as a Minister of Government of Lesotho, effective from 16 October, 2014,” wrote Mr Mphaka to Mr Mohasoa.
“You are requested to advise accordingly, the Acting Commander of the LDF, to withdraw LDF personnel who were assigned to him when he was a Cabinet Minister.”
Mr Mohasoa yesterday acknowledged receiving the correspondence and “advising” Major General Motšomotšo to withdraw the LDF personnel from Mr Mochoboroane as instructed.
“I am out of the country at the moment , but I can confirm that I received the letter from the GS on Friday last week. I informed the Acting Commander about the request but I don’t have his response yet,” Mr Mohasoa said.
However, in a stinging response dated 2 December 2014, to Mr Mohasoa’s letter, Major General Motšomotšo retorted that Mr Mphaka “does not have locus standi to address any matters relating to security issues within the Defence Force”.
The letter is also copied to the coalition government leaders, namely Dr Thabane in his capacity as premier and Defence and National Security minister, Mr Metsing as deputy premier and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane as well as the Southern African Development Community facilitator, South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“In terms of our law, the Lesotho Defence Force Act No 4 of 1996 in particular section 12 (4) thereof, the Commander of the Defence Force is obliged to account to the author (Mr Mphaka) exclusively for inter alia… the efficient and economic use of funds and assets of the Defence Force…,” Major General Motšomotšo says, adding: “Matters surrounding Legal Notice No 83 of 2014 about the ‘Removal of a Minister Notice, 2014’ is currently pending hearing before the High Court of Lesotho in the matter between The Prime Minister of Lesotho & 2 Others v Selibe Mochoboroane CIV /APN/468/2014. Thus, the principle of sub-judice must be observed.”
Major General Motšomotšo reassures that the LDF is “committed to act within its scope of mandate in line with the ruling of His Lordshio Chief Justice Cullinan in the Rex v Sekhobe Letsie & 6 others 1991-1996 LLR 1041 at 1113. The Command, therefore invites all the stakeholders to often check and balance their respective actions against the letter and the spirit of all relevant signed SADC Declarations especially Maseru Facilitation Declaration and Maseru Security Accord as well as against the fruitful and significant facilitation process undertaken by SADC Facilitator.”
He adds: “The Command of the LDF reassures its commimnet to the civil authority and shall always remain intact for lasting peace and stability in the Kingdom of Lesotho.”
The Lesotho Times contacted Mr Mphaka yesterday, who acknowledged writing the letter to Mr Mr Mohasoa.
“Having said that, I will not discuss the contents of the letter with the media since it was not addressed to the Lesotho Times.”
Several attempts to contact LDF public relations officer Major Ntlele Ntoi were fruitless.
ACTING LDF commander Major General Khoantle Motšomotšo
DEFENCE Ps thato Mohasoa
Gs Moahloli Mphaka