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BASOTHO National Party ( BNP) deputy leader Joang Molapo says he did not go to Mahobong on Sunday to attend Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s birthday party but discuss “serious governance issues”.
Chief Molapo has come under fire from some BNP, All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) members after his photograph taken at the party was posted on social media.
In the photo, the former Home Affairs minister appears to be talking to Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader and Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi.
However, Chief Molapo has dismissed accusations by some members of the opposition alliance that he went to the party to “wine and dine with the enemy”, insisting he was only at the venue to meet with Mr Metsing and some ministers regarding a deal the government was proposing for the opposition.
The meeting, he added, was scheduled to start after the birthday party attended by several ministers from different political parties, as well as Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Tlali Kamoli, National Security Services Director Mohlakala Lerotholi, and Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa, among a host of dignitaries.
Mr Metsing’s 49th birthday party had been organised by the LCD leadership, and attracted thousands of party supporters.
But according to Chief Molapo, his meet- ing with Mr Metsing was initially set for last week but had to be postponed due to the LCD leader’s busy schedule.
Chief Molapo also said he only found out when he arrived at Mr Metsing’s residence that the birthday party was still in full swing. The BNP deputy leader said he was then served some food and drinks before meeting Mr Metsing and the ministers while the birthday celebration was still taking place.
“I don’t understand what could be problematic about my visit to Mahobong. Right now we are happy that SADC is trying to broker a peace deal for our country and some people are angered by a gesture that could see Basotho resolving their issues on their own,” Chief Molapo said.
“There were issues we discussed in Mahobong and I have duly forwarded them to our leaders who are in exile in South Africa. They are going to make a decision on the proposals that we have been presented with by the government.”
However, Chief Molapo would not reveal details of his engagement with Mr Metsing and the names of the “government representatives” he met.
“All I can say is I had a lengthy and fruitful engagement with representatives of the government, who included the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Tlohang Sekhamane. What’s left now is for our leaders to decide on the message the government wanted me to relay to them,” Chief Molapo said.
The BNP deputy leader also said he took the opportunity to discuss the late former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao. Lieutenant-general Mahao was shot dead by the military on 25 June last year, and the army says he was resisting arrest when he was gunned down close to his Mokema farm.
“When I was at the meeting, I also had a chance to take Minister Sekhamane to task on his understanding that Lt-gen Mahao died a Brigadier. We did have heated debate about it in a friendly setting,” Chief Molapo said.
“There were a number of issues we discussed but which we didn’t agree on. However what is important is that we were able to talk about these things and engaged one another.
“Ntate Metsing knows me well from the time we were in government together, which is why he felt we could engage on their proposal.
“But our stance, as the BNP, is that we want peace and stability for Lesotho, However, the truth of the matter is the government has done a number of things they need to account for and we are committed to holding them to account.”
The Lesotho Times could not verify Chief Molapo’s story with either Mr Metsing and Mr Sekhamane as their mobile phones rang unanswered yesterday.
BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, and his ABC counterpart, Thomas Thabane, who fled to South Africa in May last year after claiming some LDF members were planning to assassinate them, could also not be reached for comment yesterday on Chief Molapo’s version of events.
But RCL leader Keketso Rantšo yesterday said she was surprised to see Chief Molapo’s photo on social media as he attended Mr Metsing’s party.
Ms Rantšo also said she did not know anything about government’s proposal Chief Molapo was talking about.
“If ever there was a meeting at that party, then it was a social gathering of friends sharing drinks and informally talking about a range of issues. They can’t discuss a proposal that was meant for us, at a birthday party.
“I would not accept something from a party held in Mahobong. We expect to see government formally approaching us in a transparent manner so that everything is out there in the open,” said Ms Rantšo.
BNP Deputy Leader Joang Molapo.