Metsing main­tains Ma­hao po­si­tion

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

Deputy prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Metsing (pic­tured) never sup­ported the dis­missal of Lieu­tenant-gen­eral tlali Kamoli as army com­man­der and his re­place­ment by Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao be­cause due process had not been fol­lowed, the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry heard this week.

Mr Mo­thetjoa told the com­mis­sion that then prime min­is­ter thomas tha­bane acted uni­lat­er­ally when he made the an­nounce­ment in Au­gust last year, hence his re­fusal to ac­cept the changes.

the deputy pre­mier, who was mak­ing his sec­ond ap­pear­ance be­fore the com­mis­sion, also made it clear he was not happy to be sum­moned once again by the 10-mem­ber team led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi phumaphi.

the com­mis­sion was sug­gested by prime Min­is­ter pakalitha Mo­sisili, and es­tab­lished by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) to, among other se­cu­rity con­cerns, in­ves­ti­gate cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of Lt-gen Ma­hao in Mokema on 25 June this year.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was fa­tally shot by sol­diers who had come to ar­rest him on sus­pi­cion he was the brains be­hind a foiled mutiny by a group of sol­diers against the Le­sotho Defence Force (LDF) com­mand. twenty-two sol­diers sus­pected to have been part of the mutiny are in Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity pri­son and be­ing tried by a Court Mar­tial.

Asked by the de­tained sol­diers’ lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Koili Nde­bele, if he ever sup­ported the ap­point­ment of Lt-gen Ma­hao as army LDF com­man­der, Mr Metsing said he did not.

“I never sup­ported Mr Ma­hao’s ap­point­ment as com­man­der of the LDF. yes, the former prime min­is­ter said he ap­pointed him, but I told this com­mis­sion be­fore that I did not agree with it. the per­son who ap­points is the prime min­is­ter, not the King. If it was the King, there would be pro­vi­sion for him to dis­agree with some ap­point­ments. But the con­sti­tu­tion says if the King re­fuses to ap­prove an ap­point­ment rec­om­mended by the prime min­is­ter (pm), the pm will just con­tinue with the se­lec­tion and that de­ci­sion would be con­sid­ered to have been done by the King,” Mr Metsing said.

Asked by Adv Nde­bele why he sup­ported Lt-gen Kamoli’s com­mand in­stead in light of the al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing lev­elled against him, Mr Metsing said: “As one of this coun­try’s lead­ers, I have al­ways been firm on what I be­lieve to be the truth.

“I sup­ported the reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of Lt-gen Kamoli’s com­mand (in May this year) be­cause he had al­ways been in of­fice. I am one of the peo­ple who al­ways told the na­tion that Ntate Kamoli was the com­man­der of the army and never changed my po­si­tion.

“When the new gov­ern­ment took over af­ter the Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tions, cabi­net dis­cussed the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that had been caused by Ntate tha­bane. Cabi­net then for­malised Ntate Kamoli’s stay in of­fice.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Metsing, he be­lieved Dr Tha­bane de­cided to fire Lt-gen Kamoli af­ter the army com­man­der re­fused to be used by politi­cians.

“I don’t know the ex­act date when Ntate tha­bane called a meet­ing which was at­tended by the then Gen­der Min­is­ter Chief th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane, who was one of the three lead­ers of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment, the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice Mr Mohlakala Lerotholi, and Com­mis­sioner of po­lice Khothatso tšooana.

“Ntate tha­bane and Chief ‘Maserib­ane wanted Lt-ge­nen Kamoli to im­pli­cate me in a plot to top­ple the gov­ern­ment­ment us­ing the army and when­hen he re­fused, they be­came me an­gry with him.

I sus­pect that is onee of the rea­sons why theyy wanted Lt-gen Kamo­lili out of the LDF,” Mr Metts­ing said.

the deputy pre­mierr also said it was not truee that he threat­ened Drr tha­bane and Chief ‘ Maserib­ane to either droprop cor­rup­tion charges again­stnst him or he would use the army to over­throw the gov­ern­ment.

“those are lies that I ever threat­ened my then al­lies es in the coali­tion gov­ern­ment that hat if they did not with­draw cor­rup­tionption charges against me, I would top­ple the gov­ern­ment us­ing the army.

“I want this com­mis­sion to be aware that this coun­try is where it is to­day be­cause of lies. the rea­son to lie about me over­throw­ing the gov­ern­ment was purely to tar­nish my name, rep­u­ta­tion and dig­nity. the lies were just cheap and dirty pol­i­tics,” Mr Metsing said.

“If I could ex­plain a lit­tle bit more; the sum­mons I re­ceived (at the air­port) on 31 July 2014 in­struct­ing me to ap­pear be­fore the Maseru Mag­is­trate’s Court on 1 Au­gust 2014, were is­sued by one Ad­vo­cate Nthon­tho.

“I was shocked when I ap­peared in cham­bers at the court that the Di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions (Dpp) did not know about any cor­rup­tion cases against me.

“I was not even re­manded be- cause there were no cor­rup­tion charges against me. I want the com­mis­sion to also be aware that Ad­vo­cate Nthon­tho is not an em­ployee in the of­fice of the DPP.

“What I am say­ing is there are no cor­rup­tion cases against me what­so­ever so I could not threaten to top­ple the gov­ern­ment us­ing the army be­cause of charges that didn’t even ex­ist.”

‘Mam­phanya’s tes­ti­mony Mr Metsing also spoke about the tes­ti­mony of ‘Mam­phanya — the wife of the late Lt-gen Ma­hao. Ms Ma­hao told the com­mis­sion her hus­band once told her of a call he re­ceived from Ad­vo­cate Lekhetho Rakuoane, in which the home Af­fairs Min­is­ter urged him to ac­cept

his re­moval from the LDF com­mand so he could ask Mr Metsing to spare his life.

“My main con­cern in deal­ing with this mat­ter is that ‘m’e ‘Mam­phanya said two peo­ple called her hus­band and told him that they were sent by Ntate Rakuoane to con­vince him to ac­cept any gov­ern­ment of­fer so that he could talk to me to spare his life.

“But in the sum­mons here, it is writ­ten that Ntate Rakuoane is the one who called Mr Ma­hao com­pared to what was said by ‘m’e ‘Mam­phanya.

“If I was to deal with what ‘ m’e ‘Mam­phanya said, I would find it fair and pro­ce­dural for the two peo­ple al­leged to have called her hus­band to tes­tify and ex­plain them­selves be­fore the com­mis­sion, as well as Ntate Rakuoane.

“there are so many al­le­ga­tions that have been said about me and I main­tain that they are a cam­paign to ruin my name.

“there is a cam­paign against me go­ing on; it has been done be­fore; it is be­ing done in this com­mis­sion; they are con­tin­u­ing to do it and I re­ally find that un­for­tu­nate.

“th­ese al­le­ga­tions are a fabri­ca­tion and if the com­mis­sion had fol­lowed their chronol­ogy, it could have been the end of those lies against me.”

Mr Metsing in­sisted the peo­ple who claimed they were sent to LtGen Ma­hao by Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane were the same in­di­vid­u­als who al­leged he had tried to bribe the SADC com­mis­sion be­fore the 10-mem­ber team even ar­rived in Le­sotho to be­gin its in­ves­ti­ga­tion on 31 Au­gust.

“I be­lieve they are the very same peo­ple who claimed that I tried to bribe you and was plan­ning to kill Arch­bishop tlali Lerotholi.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that I did not have the op­por­tu­nity to ask them their in­ten­tions and where they gath­ered all th­ese al­le­ga­tions.”

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