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DEPUTY Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing says he realised he was in trouble with former prime minister Thomas Thabane, when then Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana and other senior government officials openly disrespected him.
According to Mr Metsing, the first time he realised something could be wrong was a day after the simultaneous bombing of the homes of Tšooana, and Liabiloe Ramoholi in Abia and Moshoeshoe II respectively.
The homes were attacked by unknown assailants on 27 January 2014.
Testifying before the SADC Commission of Inquiry in Maseru on Monday and Tuesday this week, Mr Metsing said he had an unhealthy relationship with Dr Thabane.
The Commission, led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana, was established to investigate the 24 June 2015 murder of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao outside his Mokema farm. Brigadier Mahao was gunned down by the military allegedly while resisting arrest for being part of a foiled mutiny by a group of LDF members.
Mr Metsing told the Commission, which began its probe last month, that because he was the deputy prime minister (DPM) of a coalition government led by Dr Thabane, he was also chairperson of the Cabinet Security Sub-committee.
The DPM said because of that title, he summoned Mr Tšooana, LDF Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and National Security Service (NSS) DirectorGeneral Seeiso Lerotholi, to discuss the January 2014 attacks and launch investigations.
Mr Metsing also told the Commission that Mr Tšooana had “a bad attitude” towards him, and would refuse to take his instructions. The surprising thing, he added, was Dr Thabane would never reprimand him for it.
“He showed signs of insubordination towards me on a number of occasions and I told the former PM, who said he would reprimand him but never did,” Mr Metsing said.
Earlier that same morning of the bombings, between 8-9am, Mr Metsing told the Commission he had received calls from former Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane and former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Molobeli Soulo, informing him that Ms Ramoholi’s home had been attacked. Ms Ramoholi was Dr Thabane’s ‘partner’ at the time but the two have since tied the knot.
“I instructed them to go and inspect the place and later give me feedback. I then reported the matter to both His Majesty the King and the Prime Minister himself, who was out of the country and had travelled to Limpopo in South Africa,” Mr Metsing said.
“I also told them that I had already sent the two ministers to assess the situation at both homes, and had also facilitated for a meeting with the security committee later to discuss the situation.
“I then called the LDF commander and instructed him to inform his security colleagues of the meeting. That was because people who were supposed to be part of that meeting were the Commander, NSS Director and Commissioner of Police, as well as myself, Chief ‘Maseribane and Minister Soulo. Upon arrival at the venue of the meeting, we waited a long time for the arrival of the Commissioner of Police (Compol), until I realised he was not coming.
“We tried to call on his mobile phones but he was not picking. Eventually, his subordinate, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, came on his behalf but I told him I wanted his boss and not him at the meeting.”
Thereafter, Mr Metsing said NSS Director Mr Lerotholi received a call from the then Ministry of Defence and National Security Principal Secretary (PS) Moshoeshoe Sehlooho, who told the intelligence boss to ignore the DPM’S call for a meeting. “The PS told the director that I would call them for a meeting but that they should refuse to come. But the NSS Director told him that he was already with me at the venue of the meeting,” Mr Metsing said.
“I was shocked that the PS, a government official for that matter, already knew that I’d call a meeting of that nature when I had only discussed the issue with the LDF Commander, His Majesty the King and Ntate Thabane, as well as Ntate Soulo and Ntate ‘Maseribane.
“Where did the PS get the information, I wondered? Where did he get the audacity to tell people to refuse to attend a meeting I had called? Then I could smell a rat that something was wrong. You cannot have an official that bold, telling others to refuse to attend my meetings in a proper, functioning government.
“That issue troubled me a lot and I realised things were getting out of order. We then agreed with the two ministers to confront the former PM with those issues.”
At the time, Mr Metsing said, Mr Tšooana was still relatively new as he had just been appointed Commissioner of Police hence his behaviour was a surprise.
“We were surprised by his behaviour. Nevertheless, we continued with our meeting, but it was not easy because Compol Tšooana, whose house had been bombed, should have been there to assist us so that we could agree on the way forward.”
Mr Metsing further told the Commission how Mr Lerotholi pleaded with him to intervene, as he had noted tensions between the Compol and LDF Commander.
“The NSS Director pleaded for my intervention as he said he had noted what seemed to be tension between the LDF Commander and the Compol and that he was trying to work on their differences,” Mr Metsing said.
“He added that despite his concerted efforts to bring the two security bosses together, the Compol did not seem to be cooperative. He said it was imperative that relations were healthy between the three of them because they were vested with the security of the country.”
He showed signs of insubordination towards me on a number of occasions and I told the former PM, who said he would reprimand him but never did
Deputy Prime minister mothetjoa metsing