Ex­iled lead­ers meet Ramaphosa

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

LADY­BRAND — Le­sotho’s op­po­si­tion lead­ers who fled to South Africa last month fear­ing “as­sas­si­na­tion” met South Africa’s Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ram­pa­hosa last Satur­day in Pre­to­ria to dis­cuss their plight and the way for­ward.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter and All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader Thomas Tha­bane, his Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) coun­ter­parts The­sele ‘ Maserib­ane and Keketso Rantšo sought refuge in South Africa on 11, 13 and 26 May re­spec­tively, al­legedly af­ter be­ing alerted of a plot to kill them by rene­gade Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers — an ac­cu­sa­tion gov­ern­ment has since de­nied.

In an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times in Lady­brand, South Africa, on Tues­day this week, Chief ‘Maserib­ane said they de­cided to ap­proach Mr Ramaphosa since he was the ar­chi­tect of the roadmap which led to the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions.

Mr Ramaphosa had been ap­pointed by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) to me­di­ate in the bit­ter power-strug­gle be­tween then Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane and his deputy and Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) leader Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, re­sult­ing in elec­tions two years ahead of sched­ule.

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, the meet­ing in Pre­to­ria sought to fur­ther alert the re­gion of the “de­te­ri­o­rat­ing” se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho, which has seen LDF mem­bers be­ing ar­rested, de­tained, and tor­tured by their col­leagues for al­legedly plot­ting to top­ple their com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, as well as last month’s fa­tal shoot­ing of staunch ABC sup­porter and prom­i­nent busi­ness­man Thabiso Tšosane by un­known gun­men.

Chief ‘ Maserib­ane said Mr Ramaphosa lis­tened to their griev­ances, and the three Le­sotho lead­ers were now wait­ing to hear from SADC over the is­sue.

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, the three of them were also sup­posed to meet Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to South Africa, Ju­dith Anne Macgre­gor, in Pre­to­ria yesterday over the same is­sue, but the meet­ing was moved to Mon­day next week due to Ms Rantšo’s un­avail­abil­ity.

Chief ‘Maserib­ane also con­firmed meet­ing Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho (CCL) of­fi­cials on 29 May 2015 in the Free State, dur­ing which they dis­cussed their re­turn home.

“First of all, let me start by mak­ing it cat­e­gor­i­cally clear that we have never been in touch with any­body from the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment since our es­cape last month.

“I have heard that there are gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials claim­ing that they have reached out to us here in South Africa, but this is not true at all,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

Ac­cord­ing to the BNP leader, the meet­ing with Mr Ramaphosamaphosa had taken place “in the late hours of Satur­day in Pre­to­ria to ta­ble our con­cerns over peace and sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho and the se­cu­ri­tye­cu­rity fears which re­sulted in ourr es­cape to South Africa last month.” th.”

“As we have pre­vi­ously usly men­tioned, we had been tipped off by our mil­i­tary friends, nds, about the plot to as­sas­si­nateate us by mem­bers of the Le­sothoho De­fence Force, so we had to leaveeave the coun­try on dif­fer­ent dates. ates.

“Ac­cord­ing to our friends, we were not supup­posed to travel at night­ght any­more be­cause thatat was when the as­sas­ssi­na­tions were go­ing to take place.

“We were also ad­vised sed not to at­tend po­lit­i­cal ical ral­lies, which is why we could not hold “thankk you cel­e­bra­tions” af­ter the elec­tions, be­cause we had been told by the same friends riends that that’s where we could also be killed.”

How­ever, the BNP lead­ereader in­sisted Le­sotho had been in tur­moil long be­foree Mr Ram­pa­hosa’s in­ter­ven­tion ntion late last year.

“The sit­u­a­tion be­came worse when the prime min­is­ter re­moved Lt Gen Kamoli as LDF com­man­der in Au­gust 2014, so his re­in­state­ment by the cur­rent prime min­is­ter (Demo­cratic Congress leader Pakalitha Mo­sisili who was sworn-in on 17 March 2015), meant our lives were now in dan­ger.

“Like we have al­ways been preach­ing, even be­fore ‘M’e Keke joined us in the op­po­si­tion from the LCD, there was never peace and sta­bil­ity in the coun­try and the se­cu­rity cri­sis is get­ting worse by the day.

“In our meet­ing with Mr Ramaphosa on Satur­day, we made him aware that Lt Gen Kamoli had been re­turned to his old post and that LDF mem­bers were be­ing ab­ducted, tor­tured and de­tained at the Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison since 18 May 2015.

“We also told him that gov­ern­ment’s claim that the ab­duc­tions and tor­ture of the sol­diers were a re­sult of a planned mutiny to over­throw Lt Gen Kamoli was just a lie.

“We told him the truth of the mat­ter was that cer­tain politi­cians had taken con­trol of the LDF for their own self­ish means, and wanted to in­tim­i­date ev­ery­one so that they could not an­swer for their var­i­ous crimes.

“We brought up the is­sue of Lt Gen Kamoli be­fore Mr Ramaphosa be­cause it was dur­ing his com­mand that LDF mem­bers at­tempted a coup in Au­gust last year, three Maseru po­lice sta­tions were at­tacked by sol­diers re­sult­ing in the death of one po­lice of­fi­cer, and the house of Lt Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, who had just been made com­man­der, was at­tacked, his cars and house dam­aged.

“We asked Mr

Ramaphosa why no­body ever asked us dur­ing SADC’S fa­cil­i­ta­tion about the at­tempted coup, which re­sulted in our seek­ing refuge in South Africa in Au­gust last year.

“We pointed out to him that real is­sues were ig­nored and elec­tions forced on us to re­solve the cri­sis the coun­try was fac­ing at the time.

“It was and still our ex­pec­ta­tion that peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for those trea­sonous acts ap­pear be­fore courts of law.”

Chief ‘Maserib­ane also said the SADC lead­er­ship did not even ask why Dr Tha­bane pro­rogued par­lia­ment for nine months in June 2014.

“Dur­ing SADC’S fa­cil­i­ta­tion, no­body ever asked Dr Tha­bane about the pro­ro­ga­tion, and like I said, the at­tempted coup was also never dis­cussed.

“SADC was only in­ter­ested in the re­moval of the pro­ro­ga­tion and not about the death of Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko dur­ing the Au­gust at­tack on Po­lice Head­quar­ters by LDF mem­bers, and other trea­son­able cases which were desta­bil­is­ing the coun­try at the time.

“We raised all these is­sue when we met Mr Ramaphosa on Satur­day, and also our reser­va­tions re­gard­ing the me­di­a­tion that the CCL wants to lead for our re­turn home.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘Maserib­ane, they told Mr Ramaphosa that the CCL had since been com­pro­mised and would not ne­go­ti­ate a fair deal for the op­po­si­tion.

“A good ex­am­ple is that of a cer­tain Angli­can Arch­bishop who was lead­ing prayers dur­ing Mo­sisili’s in­au­gu­ra­tion in March this year. The prayer was clearly singing the praises of the coali­tion of Congress par­ties and it was a shock to hear such a so-called prayer from a head of the church.”

Chief ‘Maserib­ane also said Dr Tha­bane’s gov­ern­ment had per­sis­tently been ac­cused of politi­cis­ing the coun­try’s se­cu­rity agen­cies, adding: “Look at what is hap­pen­ing now in the po­lice and army… Is that not politi­cis­ing these crit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions?”

Chief ‘ Maserib­ane fur­ther said de­spite as­sur­ances from Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mets­ing, Min­is­ter of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Tšeliso Mokhosi and the premier about their safety, they would not re­turn to Le­sotho un­less there is SADC guar­an­tee of their se­cu­rity.

“Claims by the gov­ern­ment that they want to meet us for dis­cus­sions of how best we could be as­sisted back home are a farce.

“No ef­fort has been made by the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho to meet us; not even one rep­re­sen­ta­tive from gov­ern­ment has ever con­tacted us to find out any­thing about our es­cape.

“Our re­spec­tive po­lit­i­cal par­ties wrote to Mo­sisili and the Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly Ntl­hoi Mot­samai about it but there was no re­sponse. No­body has ever even called us for a mere meet­ing to dis­cuss our is­sue.

“So we can’t just pack our bags and come back to a coun­try where our lives are not safe. We ad­vised Mr Ramaphosa that we would want Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity is­sues to be dis­cussed thor­oughly and a SADC team sent to Maseru to find out for it­self the prob­lems our peo­ple are fac­ing as we speak.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, the “in­sta­bil­ity” is be­ing de­lib­er­ately cre­ated by “some politi­cians to avoid be­ing ar­rested for the var­i­ous crimes such as cor­rup­tion, which they com­mit­ted.

“There are some politi­cians who want to hide crim­i­nal cases by killing oth­ers. I would rec­om­mend such im­moral politi­cians to hire them­selves go good lawyers who might be able to sa save them be­cause they will surely be brought be­fore the courts one day.

“Af­ter all, those politi­cians have a lot of m money and can easily af­ford to hire ex ex­pen­sive in­ter­na­tional lawyers to r rep­re­sent them be­fore the courts, so they should stop killing in­no­cent souls and face their day in court.”

Chief ‘M‘ Maserib­ane also ap­pealed to “soldie “sol­diers to stop ha­rass­ing my wife and chil­dren.”

He add added: “Some sol­diers are be­ing seen near my home in Naleli, yet I left the coun­try last month. They sho should come for me in South Africa an and stop mak­ing sus­pi­cious move­men move­ments at my home and scar­ing my fam­ily fam­ily.

“My ch chil­dren and wife are not me be­cause i it’s me they re­ally want, so they shou should sim­ply cross over here and face me and stop ha­rass­ing in­no­cent wo women and chil­dren.”

Asked about al­le­ga­tions that SADC Ch Chair­man Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe o of Zim­babwe had re­fused to meet them in Botswana last month to hear t their case, Chief ‘ Maserib­ane said: “We are not stupid and know pro pro­ce­dures to be fol­lowed in or­der to have talks with SADC. We (Dr Tha­bane and Chief ‘ Maserib­ane) went to Botswana to meet the Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Lawrence Tax.

“Co­in­ci­den­tally, Mr Mu­gabe was in Botswana at the time and he asked us why we were in that coun­try.

“We told him about our is­sue and he promised to get back to us, which he did a few days later through his en­voy, which is why we are also say­ing we await SADC’S re­sponse.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, there would be no more “se­cret” meet­ings as far as Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity is­sues are con­cerned.

“We made it clear to Mr Ramaphosa that we no longer want se­cret meet­ings when re­solv­ing our is­sues be­cause agree­ments we would have signed end up not be­ing re­spected.

“A clear ex­am­ple is the re­in­state­ment of Lt Gen Kamoli, when it had been ini­tially agreed by the SADC Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment that all the three se­cu­rity chiefs — Lt Gen Kamoli, Lt Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao and Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana — would be sent on re­tire­ment af­ter the elec­tions.

“Mr Ramaphosa gave us the im­pres­sion that he was shocked that Mo­sisili re­in­stated Lt Gen Kamoli de­spite that agree­ment but like I said, we won’t have any se­cret meet­ings about such is­sues again.”

Con­tacted for com­ment on Tues­day, Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesper­son, Ron­nie Mamoepa con­firmed the meet­ing in Pre­to­ria but would not give any de­tails.

“Yes, Deputy Pres­i­dent Mr Ramaphosa met with Le­sotho’s op­po­si­tion lead­ers on Satur­day in Pre­to­ria since he was the SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor in that dis­pute. But that is all I can say be­cause the dis­cus­sions were con­fi­den­tial,” said Mr Mamoepa.

ABC Leader Thomas Tha­bane (left) and BNP Leader The­sele ‘Maserib­ane

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