EX­ILED LEAD­ERS WANT IN­QUIRY IN SA

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

EX­ILED op­po­si­tion lead­ers say they have asked the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of in­quiry into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity to con­vene a sit­ting in South Africa to en­able them to tes­tify be­fore it.

The lead­ers said it was very vi­tal that the com­mis­sion hears their points of view about the Le­sotho cri­sis.

But they vowed that there was no way that they could travel to Le­sotho, even for a few hours only, to ap­pear be­fore the Com­mis­sion, as they still feared to be killed by mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

The de­layed com­mis­sion of in­quiry fi­nally be­gan its hear­ings on Mon­day with Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili ap­pear­ing be­fore it yesterday (see sep­a­rate sto­ries)

In an in­ter­view yesterday with the Le­sotho Times from his base in South Africa, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader The­sele ‘Maserib­ane, who spoke on be­half of the other op­po­si­tion lead­ers, said they would rather not tes­tify in the hear­ings un­less the com­mis­sion came to con­vene sit­tings in the neigh­bour­ing coun- try.

But still he em­pha­sized that the op­po­si­tion lead­ers must tes­tify to en­able the com­mis­sion to get a holis­tic view of the Le­sotho sit­u­a­tion from all and sundry.

Chief ‘Maserib­ane and his op­po­si­tion col­leagues, All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader Thomas Tha­bane and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho leader Keketso Rantšo, fled the coun­try in May al­legedly af­ter be­ing alerted of a plot to kill them by rene­gade Le­sotho De­fence Force mem­bers, an ac­cu­sa­tion gov­ern­ment has since de­nied.

The BNP leader said they were plead­ing with the com­mis­sion to come to South Africa be­cause their liv­ers were “still in dan­ger”.

“It is the na­tion’s ex­pec­ta­tion that we ap­pear be­fore the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry be­cause the events that led to the death of the for­mer LDF Com­man­der Lt Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao started while we were part­ners in the pre­vi­ous coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Dr Tha­bane,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

“We are ready to give all the in­for­ma­tion we have to as­sist the com­mis­sion with in­ves­ti­ga­tions but our lives come first.”

Asked what ef­forts they had made to raise the is­sue with the com­mis­sion, Chief ‘ Maserib­ane said rep­re­sen­ta­tives from their po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Le­sotho were lob­by­ing on their be­half.

He said the ex­iles, who in­cluded LDF op­er­a­tives, for­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana, jour­nal­ists and mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion who also sought refuge in South Africa fear­ing for their lives, would not come back while the “ma­jor threat”, LDF com­man­der Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, still had state re­sources at his dis­posal to ha­rass the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s op­po­nents.

“The na­tion is well aware that the ve­hi­cles used to at­tack and abduct mem­bers of the LDF from their homes were gov­ern­ment prop­erty. If Kamoli has ac­cess to all the mil­i­tary re­sources then his cam­paign won’t stop,” the BNP leader said.

“Se­cu­rity in Le­sotho was never a prob­lem un­til LDF com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli be­came a po­lar­is­ing fig­ure.

Tlali Kamoli is a mil­i­tary politi­cian and the pri­mary cause of most of the po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary prob­lems in the coun­try.”

He con­tin­ued: “The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho was not com- pli­cated but the cur­rent coali­tion and mil­i­tary politi­cians co­de­named Kamoli De­fence Force (KDF) be­gan to fid­dle with gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions to politi­cise them in their favour.

“I firmly be­lieve that the cur­rent seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Dr (Pakalitha) Mo­sisili used mil­i­tary politi­cians to as­cend to power and desta­bilise the pre­vi­ous coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Dr Tha­bane.

“When he ad­dressed the na­tion at his in­au­gu­ra­tion in March 2015, the Right Honourable the Prime Min­is­ter said ‘ we could not be where we are if it was not be­cause of the sol­diers’.

“Nowhere in his speech do I re­call him thank­ing the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion for a job well done.”

Ms Rantšo also sep­a­rately con­firmed that they would not ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion in Le­sotho for fear of their lives since “noth­ing con­crete had been said to us by the gov­ern­ment over our se­cu­rity”.

She said it would be “sense­less” for the ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers to come to Le­sotho with no as­sur­ances over their safety.

“We are not go­ing to ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion be­cause of the threats that we re­ceived.

“Through of­fi­cials from our par­ties, we have in­quired to the head of the com­mis­sion, Jus­tice Mpathi Phumaphi, on how we can ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion,” Ms Rantšo said.

She then re­ferred us to RCL Sec­re­tary Gen­eral ‘Mamolula Ntabe, whom she said was part of ef­forts to get the Com­mis­sion to con­vene sit­tings in South Africa to give ex­iles an op­por­tu­nity to tes­tify, for more de­tails. On her part, Ms Ntabe said op­po­si­tion party of­fi­cials had met with Jus­tice Phumaphi last Thurs­day who had in­di­cated that he could not guar­an­tee the se­cu­rity of the wit­nesses.

“Jus­tice Mpathi Phumaphi, how­ever, said he would dis­cuss the is­sue of the ex­iles in South Africa with the coun­try’s High Com­mis­sioner to Le­sotho to con­sider or­gan­is­ing a suit­able place for them to ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion,” Ms Ntabe said.

“We are cur­rently wait­ing for feed­back from Jus­tice Phumaphi when all the ar­range­ments have been made.”

Re­peated at­tempts to con­tact the LDF for com­ment were not fruit­ful un­til the time of go­ing to print.

BNP leader The­sele ‘Maserib­ane

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