No go­ing back on polls: Zuma

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

COALI­TION gov­ern­ment lead­ers, Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, his deputy Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing and Sports Min­is­ter Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane have com­mit­ted to go­ing ahead with the 28 Fe­bru­ary elec­tions as planned de­spite re­newed ten­sion within the al­liance.

The trio, who met South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in Pre­to­ria at Dr Tha­bane and Chief ‘Maserib­ane’s re­quest, pledged to foster an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the hold­ing of the polls.

The meet­ing was held fol­low­ing the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of re­la­tions be­tween Dr Tha­bane and Chief ‘Maserib­ane and South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, whom they ac­cused of be­ing sym­pa­thetic to Mr Mets­ing.

The All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) side of gov­ern­ment had since writ­ten a damn­ing re­port on Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion to the African Union Sum­mit held re­cently in Ethiopia.

The re­port, which was pre­sented by BNP deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo, whose party formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with the ABC and Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) in June 2012, ac­cused Mr Ramaphosa of “over­look­ing” se­cu­rity con­cerns and only fo­cus­ing on po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

How­ever, Mr Mets­ing’s LCD had disowned the re­port, ex­press­ing sat­is­fac­tion with Mr Ramaphosa’s con­duct as fa­cil­i­ta­tor.

Sources say at Mon­day’s meet­ing, Dr Tha­bane and Chief ‘Maserib­ane high­lighted the volatile se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try fol­low­ing the re­cent shootout be­tween mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) just out­side the Royal Palace.

The gun battle claimed the life of pri­vate se­cu­rity guard, Mohau Qo­bete (37), who was on duty at the nearby Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing head-of­fice, while two LDF mem­bers, Ma­jor Mo­jalefa Mosak­eng and Cor­po­ral Ngoliso Ma­jara, were se­ri­ously in­jured and taken to an uniden­ti­fied hos­pi­tal in Bloem­fontein, South Africa.

Dr Tha­bane and Chief ‘Maserib­ane are also said to have high­lighted Mr Ramaphosa’s fail­ure to ad­dress the LDF’S re­fusal to sur­ren­der eight sol­diers the po­lice needed to in­ter­view in con­nec­tion with the si­mul­ta­ne­ous bomb­ing of three Maseru homes on the night of 27 Jan­uary 2014. The houses be­longed to Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana, Dr Tha­bane’s wife Li­a­biloe Ramo­holi and her neigh­bour ‘Mamo­let­sane Mo­let­sane.

On his part, Mr Zuma, who is also SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics De­fence and Se­cu­rity chair­man, said the se­cu­rity con­cerns would be given due at­ten­tion, although he stressed prepa­ra­tions for the elec­tions should con­tinue.

In an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times fol­low­ing Mon­day’s meet­ing, Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Moahloli Mphaka de­nied the gov­ern­ment had ever ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion de­spite the re­port tabled at the AU Sum­mit.

“It was not the gov­ern­ment but some Le­sotho cit­i­zens who called them­selves ‘Con­cerned Ba­sotho’ who demon­strated against what they de­scribed as law­less­ness, say­ing they no longer wanted Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion,” Mr Mphaka said, re­fer­ring to a group of about 50 pro­test­ers who pre­sented a pe­ti­tion to Dr Tha­bane, which among other is­sues, slated Mr Ramaphosa for al­legedly fail­ing to study the Le­sotho con­sti­tu­tion be­fore as­sum­ing the role of SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor last year.

Added Mr Mphaka: “The gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho doesn’t have any prob­lem with Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion but needs him to ad­dress the core se­cu­rity is­sues that have brought Le­sotho to where it is to­day. Th­ese is­sues have got to be ad­dressed be­fore the elec­tions are held on 28 Fe­bru­ary.

“Mr Zuma also warned that it is high time that po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers in this coun­try stop in­ter­fer­ing in the op­er­a­tions of se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions.

“Mr Ramaphosa was di­rected to come and ad­dress the is­sues of se­cu­rity and the coun­try’s pre­pared­ness for the elec­tions im­me­di­ately af­ter Mr Zuma’s State of the Na­tion Ad­dress in Par­lia­ment on Thurs­day (to­day).”

How­ever, Mr Mphaka said Mon­day’s meet­ing did not dis­cuss the al­leged ar­rest by South African po­lice, of four LDF of­fi­cers at a Bloem­fontein hos­pi­tal last week. The four al­legedly wanted to kill Dr Tha­bane’s wounded body­guards, Ma­jor Mosak­eng and Cor­po­ral Ma­jara.

Act­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Joang Mo­lapo had claimed the would-be-as­sas­sins, one of them a woman, were ar­rested be­fore they could reach the hos­pi­talised body­guards, adding the wounded body­guards had since been re­lo­cated to a “se­cure” lo­ca­tion.

How­ever, South African po­lice were yet to con­firm the re­ports at the time of go­ing to press.

SA Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

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