Tha­bane vows to fire fire DPP, AG

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Re­porters

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane has urged vot­ers to give him an out­right ma­jor­ity of seats in Par­lia­ment to en­able him to con­tinue with his agenda of erad­i­cat­ing cor­rup­tion which he de­scribed as be­ing among the root causes of poverty in Le­sotho.

The All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader also vowed to fire Direc­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) Leaba Thet­sane and At­tor­ney-gen­eral Tšokolo Makhete, if he is re­turned to of­fice as prime min­is­ter.

Speak­ing in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times ahead of Satur­day’s snap gen­eral elec­tions, Tha­bane said he did not think the two of­fi­cials will be help­ful in his agenda to erad­i­cate cor­rup­tion.

He ac­cused both Ad­vo­cates Makhete and Thet­sane of let­ting down Ba­sotho by fail­ing to dis­pense jus­tice.

“If I win, they (Makhete and Thet­sane) should go im­me­di­ately with­out wait­ing for me to tell them to go ....,” said a seem­ingly fired-up Dr Tha­bane. “They have failed the na­tion by not dispensing jus­tice….”

Dr Tha­bane was par­tic­u­larly scathing against Ad­vo­cate Makhete’s de­ci­sion to sue King Let­sie 111 over the ap­point­ment of Judge Kananelo Mos­ito as Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent, de­scrib­ing the move to cite the King as a party to his court chal­lenge as a “drunken de­ci­sion”.

Dr Tha­bane last year ejected both Ad­vo­cates Makhete and Thet­sane from of­fice, ar­gu­ing that they had reached the com­pul­sory re­tire­ment age of 55. How­ever, Ad­vo­cate Thet­sane fought back and won his bid to be re-in­stated to his job in the Court of Ap­peal.

Since then, Dr Tha­bane be­lieves Ad­vo­cate Thet­sane has been mak­ing po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions in pros­e­cu­tions not based on pro­fes­sional considerations to spite the pre­mier. This, the Prime Min­is­ter fears, may scup­per his anti-cor­rup­tion drive.

Dr Tha­bane did not say how he would fire both Makhete and Thet­sane in light of the lat­ter’s court victory.

“I will deal with that…. i have dealt with worse things be­fore,” said Dr Tha­bane.

He also ruled out re­turn­ing Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli to the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

“I had al­ready pen­sioned him (Kamoli) off and that stands. He can lead his life whichever way he wants as a civil­ian but he can­not get back to the army. He is free to ap­ply for a job at the Uni­ver­sity or else­where but he can­not re­turn to the army as long as I am Prime Min­is­ter,” said Dr Tha­bane.

He said he was not bit­ter against Lt Gen­eral Kamoli over the lat­ter’s at­tempt to over­throw him on Au­gust 30 last year. Dr Tha­bane said the in­ci­dent, which left a po­lice­man dead af­ter mem­bers of the LDF at­tacked sev­eral po­lice sta­tions, had taught him “lessons”.

On whether Lt Gen­eral Kamoli would be charged with trea­son over the Au­gust 30 events, Dr Tha­bane would only say “that is a mat­ter of other state or­gans to deal with”.

Dr Tha­bane also vowed to hand-over power smoothly if he loses the elec­tions.

“I will pass power to the win­ner and shake their hand to congratulate them. I will then go to Par­lia­ment to op­pose them demo­crat­i­cally,” said Dr Tha­bane, fur­ther vow­ing that he would never cling to power if he lost the elec­tions.

He was nev­er­the­less am­biva­lent when asked about whether or not he would con­sider form­ing a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with the Demo­cratic Congress’ Pakalitha Mo­sisili, con­sid­ered the ABC’S big­gest com­peti­tor.

“Be­cause he (Mo­sisili) is my se­nior…. i would ask him to an­swer that ques­tion first. He is my se­nior, I worked with him in gov­ern­ment for a long time and served as his min­is­ter in sev­eral port­fo­lios. So it is only fit­ting that I let him an­swer that ques­tion first…,” said Tha­bane.

The Prime Min­is­ter also said this was his last elec­tion, mean­ing that if he wins, he will con­sider it his fi­nal term as Pre­mier. He will then pass on the but­ton to the next leader at the next polls.

“If elected, I will do my best to leave this coun­try at a po­si­tion that en­sures that who­ever takes over from me will not run it down again….,” said Dr Tha­bane.

He was con­fi­dent of win­ning an out­right ma­jor­ity if the elec­tion was free and fair, but said he would still form a coali­tion of choice.

“I am not plan­ning to go to elec­tions so that I can form a com­pul­sory coali­tion but one of choice…,” he said.

“Even if I were to win all the con­stituen­cies , I will in­vite oth­ers into gov­ern­ment and ap­point min­is­ters from other par­ties.

“There will be a coali­tion but that will not be be­cause it is in­evitable…,” he said.

He said he had con­fi­dence in the cur­rent In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) to de­liver a good elec­tion and called upon all stake­hold­ers to as­sist and co­op­er­ate with the IEC. He said the IEC had hith­erto done good work de­spite fi­nan­cial con­straints.

The Prime Min­is­ter vowed to “wipe out cor­rup­tion” if elected, say­ing it was re­spon­si­ble for poverty and hard­ships for the poor.

“Cor­rup­tion is re­spon­si­ble for poverty be­cause re­sources meant to ben­e­fit the poor are of­ten di­verted to the pock­ets of of­fi­cials, cre­at­ing a vac­uum of re­sources to ben­e­fit the peo­ple…. if I am elected, I can tell you that cor­rup­tion will be­come a thing of the past..,” vowed Dr Tha­bane.

It was in that con­text that he would not tire in seek­ing the re­moval of the DPP and AG from of­fice, he added.

Dr Tha­bane said it would be wrong to dis­miss his col­lapsed coali­tion with the LCD’S Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing and BNP’S Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane as a fail­ure, say­ing it had done so many good things for Le­sotho.

“Fail­ure of the coali­tion must be judged against its suc­cesses….”

He said the record of min­istries un­der his ABC’S con­trol was par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive and “the public should re­gard us as peo­ple who can be trusted…”

ABC min­istries had fos­tered im­prove­ments in health, agri­cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion and other ar­eas. He said the Amer­i­cans, who were known to be very strict over any abuses of their money, had hailed the projects they had funded un­der min­istries con­trolled by the ABC, such as health.

“Amer­i­cans have hailed us for the projects they funded us in ar­eas like health. That is a great achieve­ment con­sid­er­ing that Amer­i­cans are very crit­i­cal of any abuses of their money….,” said Dr Tha­bane.

When the coali­tion gov­ern­ment took over, chaos reigned at the Na­tional Uni­ver­sity of Le­sotho (NUL), but Dr Tha­bane said he had moved in to re­store or­der.

“There were chaos at NUL be­tween man­age­ment, aca­demic and non-aca­demic staff and stu­dents. We went to­gether with Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mets­ing –– thanks for his co­op­er­a­tion on that –– and we re­solved is­sues. NUL is now do­ing well un­der the stew­ard­ship of Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao who has taken over as vice-chan­cel­lor and he will un­doubt­edly strengthen it as a key in­sti­tu­tion of learn­ing,” said Dr Tha­bane.

He fur­ther said the Min­istry of Health had un­der­taken sev­eral ini­tia­tives to pro­mote pri­mary health­care. If re­turned to power, he would re-open Queen III as a dis­trict hos­pi­tal of Maseru while keep­ing Queen ‘Mamo­hato as the re­fer­ral hos­pi­tal.

He said his gov­ern­ment had also done a lot of work to im­prove po­lice ef­fi­ciency and ca­pac­ity to fight crime. His ma­jor con­cern was the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in­so­far as it re­lated to the army but vowed to re­solve it within three months of be­ing elected, the pre­mier added.

Dr Tha­bane could not dis­close how he would re­solve the se­cu­rity prob­lem but em­pha­sized that it was vi­tal for the army to be re­spon­si­ble and accountable to an elected civil­ian gov­ern­ment.

“If I re­turn to gov­ern­ment, I will re­solve the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion ef­fec­tively within three months of my gov­ern­ment. I will do it ef­fec­tively in con­junc­tion with the man­age­ment of those in­sti­tu­tions (the army),” said Dr Tha­bane with­out dis­clos­ing fur­ther de­tails due to the sen­si­tive na­ture of se­cu­rity is­sues.

I will pass power to the win­ner and shake their hand to congratulate them. I will then go to Par­lia­ment to op­pose them demo­crat­i­cally.

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane.

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