Thaba Tha­bane dis­app dis­ap­points suppo sup­port­ers

. . . as ex­iled ABC leader de­cides not to tes­tify in pub­lic

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

THABA ‘ NCHU — Former Prime Thomas Tha­bane de­cided not to tes­tify in pub­lic when he ap­peared be­fore the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry prob­ing Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity.

The ex­iled All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader did not give rea­sons why he chose to give his side of the story re­gard­ing the coun­try’s se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges in pri­vate — much to the dis­ap­point­ment of scores of party sup­port­ers who had de­scended on Black Moun­tain Ho­tel in Thaba ‘Nchu where the hear­ings had been tak­ing place since the 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion moved from Maseru on Thurs­day last week.

Af­ter the com­mis­sion had met Dr Tha­bane in pri­vate for close to three hours, its chairperson, Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi, gave the former pre­mier time to ad­dress the au­di­ence. It was an an­ti­cli­max to the hear­ings af­ter Dr Tha­bane’s fel­low ex­iled lead­ers — Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and Keketso Ran­tšo of the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho re­spec­tively — had given their tes­ti­monies in pub­lic.

Dr Tha­bane’s wife, ‘Maisiah, sev­eral ex­iled Le­sotho Defence Force (LDF) and ABC mem­bers also gave their tes­ti­monies in pub­lic. In Maseru, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Metsing and Defence Min­is­ter Tšeliso Mokhosi also tes­ti­fied in pub­lic.

How­ever, in his ad­dress to the crowd and com­mis­sion­ers, Dr Tha­bane first gave an over­view of African pol­i­tics, as well as the role of the mil­i­tary in a democ­racy.

The former pre­mier also spoke about his tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with LDF Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli whom has since ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to over­throw his gov­ern­ment in Au­gust 2014. Dr Tha­bane has also claimed Lt-gen Kamoli was out to kill him, prompt­ing his de­ci­sion to flee to South Africa in May this year.

Dr Tha­bane told the au­di­ence: “The im­me­di­ate his­tory of Africa is chang­ing very rapidly… from an Africa of coups and dis­tur­bances, failed gov­er­nance, cor­rupt lead­ers, cor­rupt regimes and so on, to an Africa that will be demo­cratic, com­pet­i­tive, pro­duce eco­nomic re­sults, re­duce poverty and deal with es­sen­tial is­sues like dis­ease and chil­dren who don’t have par­ents. There are chil­dren in our dif­fer­ent coun­tries that don’t have par­ents. I don’t know how that hap­pens be­cause a child can’t just be born. But there are chil­dren who don’t have par­ents.

“Look­ing at all th­ese is­sues, and all of us who are seek­ing lead­er­ship in our re­spec­tive coun­tries, we have had sets of pri­or­i­ties that were rel­e­vant at some point in time. There were times when Botswana, Swazi­land, Namibia, Mozam­bique and so on had to throw away the colo­nial yoke; those days are gone. The chal­lenge now is to im­prove the lives of the peo­ple and yet af­ter win­ning elec­tions, we for­get about the peo­ple who lined-up in the sun and voted for us.”

Dr Tha­bane then spoke about the mil­i­tary and how it has pre­sented chal­lenges in sev­eral African states.

“I re­alise that we have still not been able to tell our mil­i­tary of­fi­cers that their job is in the bar­racks and obey­ing or­ders from peo­ple run­ning gov­ern­ments and elected by the peo­ple. Le­sotho, in par­tic­u­lar, is an ex­am­ple of coun­tries where the mil­i­tary think they must have a say in the run­ning of the coun­try; they don’t have it,” Dr Tha­bane said.

“Part of the prob­lem that brought the gov­ern­ment that I led to an early end was I had an ar­gu­ment with the com­man­der of the mil­i­tary — the very same per­son I rec­om­mended for the po­si­tion. In­deed, if my coun­try is to progress, we have to deal se­ri­ously with the role of the army in our coun­try.

“Even to­day, there is still so much in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho. The com­mis­sion is here in South Africa and I am happy be­cause sit­ting in Le­sotho could have been a prob­lem.

“Af­ter this, I am con­fi­dent the peo­ple of Le­sotho will sit down and ques­tion why they elect cer­tain peo­ple as their lead­ers, in­clud­ing my­self, and why they don’t elect cer­tain peo­ple, in­clud­ing my­self.

“If we don’t re­alise that we have poverty, or­phans, HIV/AIDS, and that fam­i­lies are be­ing dev­as­tated be­cause they don’t have bread­win­ners, and we still want to gov­ern by force, then we have a long way to go as a peo­ple.”

The ABC leader then turned to Jus­tice Phumaphi’s na­tive Botswana — a coun­try he called a model of democ­racy.

“You were a very good choice (for the po­si­tion of com­mis­sion chairperson) be­cause there is noth­ing that can be pointed at your coun­try, the Re­pub­lic of Botswana. There was a time when we had a com­mon univer­sity and some of your lead­ers would walk around with us as bud­dies. Peo­ple from Botswana came to Le­sotho and mar­ried in our coun­try. Why those Ba­sotho girls de­cided to go to the desert, I don’t know, but the is­sue here is Ba­sotho have to sit down and think about their coun­try.

“Our coun­try sup­plies wa­ter to the big­gest in­dus­tries in South Africa yet some peo­ple still sleep hun­gry in Le­sotho. Some peo­ple are eat­ing more than their fair share; the dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth in Le­sotho is wrong. In Se­sotho, we say ‘Bana ba monna ba arole­lana hlooho ea tsie’, mean­ing we share a lo­cust’s head if we are broth­ers.”

Dr Tha­bane thanked the com­mis­sion for its cru­cial un­der­tak­ing ini­ti­ated by the fa­tal shoot­ing of former LDF com­man­der Maa­pankoe Ma­hao by sol­diers who had come to his Mokema home to ar­rest him on sus­pi­cion he was plan­ning a mutiny along­side sev­eral other mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

“From the bot­tom of my heart, I would want to thank you for the work you are do­ing for us. We will go back home and prom­ise to be­have our­selves,” Dr Tha­bane said.

Mean­while, af­ter Dr Tha­bane’s ad­dress, Jus­tice Phumaphi said the com­mis­sion­ers were mov­ing back to Maseru where they would re­sume hear­ing tes­ti­monies next week. The Thaba ‘Nchu hear­ings had ini­tially been sched­uled to end to­mor­row.

Jus­tice Phumaphi said: “Ntate Tha­bane has sub­mit­ted his tes­ti­mony in cam­era, and this marks the end of our work here in South Africa. We will re­sume the hear­ings next week in Maseru; we are go­ing back to Le­sotho now.”

Former po­lice com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana

Former Prime Thomas Tha­bane ad­dress­ing the me­dia yes­ter­day.

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