Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Bongiwe Zih­langu

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

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