Mo­sisili must go – DC youths

as coali­tion youths join out­cry over AGOA

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE youth leagues of two par­ties in the gov­ern­ing coali­tion, in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s Demo­cratic Con­gress (DC), have joined their op­po­si­tion col­leagues in de­mand­ing the pre­mier to step down “with im­me­di­ate ef­fect”.

In an un­prece­dented es­ca­la­tion of the in­fight­ing that has ef­fec­tively split the main coali­tion part­ner, the DC and Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Con­gress (LPC) youth leagues yes­ter­day urged Dr Mo­sisili to quit “for fail­ing to up­hold the rule of law and pro­tect jobs”.

The DC and LPC youth leagues con­vened the press con­fer­ence along with their All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party Re­formed Con­gress for Le­sotho col­leagues. The press con­fer­ence was also ad­dressed by an al­liance of fac­tory work­ers unions and taxi op­er­a­tors who also de­manded Dr Mo­sisili’s ouster.

The taxi in­dus­try was rep­re­sented by the Maseru Re­gion Taxi Op­er­a­tors while the tex­tile in­dus­try was rep­re­sented by the Na­tional Coun­cil of Trade Unions and In­de­pen­dent Demo­cratic Union of Le­sotho. Se­nior mem­bers of the youth leagues’ po­lit­i­cal par­ties were also in at­ten­dance, al­though they re­mained in the crowd.

The press con­fer­ence was in keep­ing with the sur­real week in which the gov­ern­ment on Tues­day an­nounced it had reached “a mu­tu­ally agree­able so­lu­tion” with Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli for his exit from the helm of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

The gov­ern­ment also reshuf­fled cab­i­net on Tues­day and purged or de­moted min­is­ters aligned to the DC’S Liru­rubele (but­ter­flies) fac­tion. Mr Moleleki, who leads the Liru­rubele fac­tion, was shuf­fled from the Po­lice min­istry to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice which ob­servers have said was a de­mo­tion and a move meant to con­tain him.

The min­is­ters who were given their march­ing or­ders were Ka­belo Mar­ufa (Forestry and Land Recla­ma­tion), Dr Ma­hali Phamotse (Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing), Thabiso Litšiba (Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing) and Agri­cul­ture and Food Se­cu­rity Deputy Min­is­ter Dr ‘Mamosa Mo­lapo.

How­ever, in a sign the dif­fer­ences be­tween the Liru­rubele fac­tion and Lithope (loosely trans­lated to girl­friends) have be­come ir­rec­on­cil­able, the DC youth league joined the op­po­si­tion and civil so­ci­ety’s call for Dr Mo­sisili to re­sign af­ter the United States gov­ern­ment warned Le­sotho risked los­ing aid and trade pref­er­ences due to gov­er­nance in­frac­tions.

US As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for African Af­fairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield last week told the Le­sotho Times the “writ­ing was on the wall” for Le­sotho’s el­i­gi­bil­ity for the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA) fa­cil­ity and a sec­ond com­pact grant un­der the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) due to gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to ad­dress is­sues of “im­punity and the rule of law”.

AGOA gives duty-free and quotafree ac­cess to the US mar­ket to el­i­gi­ble Sub-sa­ha­ran African coun­tries in­clud­ing Le­sotho. The law ob­li­gates the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to des­ig­nate coun­tries el­i­gi­ble to ben­e­fit from the trade fa­cil­ity on an an­nual ba­sis af­ter un­der­go­ing a re­view process.

Among the main el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria for the fa­cil­ity are a mar­ket-based economy, rule of law, sys­tems to com­bat cor­rup­tion, and not en­gag­ing in gross vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tion­al­lyrecog­nised hu­man rights.

The MCC was es­tab­lished by the US Con­gress in 2004 as an in­no­va­tive for­eign aid agency to help lead the fight against global poverty by work­ing with se­lect part­ner coun­tries to iden­tify req­ui­site ar­eas in need of fund­ing sup­port. MCC com­pacts are large, five-year grants for coun­tries that pass its el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria. Le­sotho re­ceived its first fiveyear MCC com­pact worth US$362.5 mil­lion in July 2007.

The $362.5 mil­lion com­pact, among oth­ers, helped fund the con­struc­tion of Me­to­long Dam, as well as the Pres­i­dent’s Emer­gency Plan for AIDS Re­lief (PEPFAR) to mit­i­gate the neg­a­tive eco­nomic im­pact

of poor ma­ter­nal health, HIV/AIDS, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and other dis­eases.

Le­sotho was ex­pect­ing its sec­ond com­pact this year af­ter per­form­ing well in the first project, but on 16 De­cem­ber 2015, the MCC Board de­cided not to vote on the is­sue cit­ing gov­er­nance con­cerns, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the killing of for­mer LDF com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. The for­mer mil­i­tary chief was re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny when he was killed by his col­leagues out­side his Mokema farm, ac­cord­ing to the LDF. How­ever, the Ma­hao fam­ily and SADC in­quiry have dis­puted that claim.

Am­bas­sador Thomas-greenfield said the gov­ern­ment risked jeop­ar­dis­ing the jobs of 40 000 Ba­sotho work­ing in the tex­tile sec­tor by fail­ing to fully im­ple­ment the rec­om­mended re­forms. The tex­tile in­dus­try is Le­sotho’s big­gest pri­vate sec­tor em­ployer, with most of the work­ers be­ing women who are sole bread­win­ners for their fam­i­lies.

In his ad­dress, DC youth league Pres­i­dent Thuso Litjobo said Dr Mo­sisili and his cab­i­net should step down be­cause they failed to pre­vent and com­bat cor­rup­tion in all its

forms and to up­hold the rule of law.

As a re­sult of those al­leged fail­ings, the out­spo­ken DC youth leader said, the gov­ern­ment failed to pro­tect jobs “that are about to be lost should Le­sotho lose its el­i­gi­bil­ity for AGOA”.

“We are very wor­ried about the cor­rup­tion in this coun­try be­cause we don’t see any­one in gov­ern­ment try­ing to do any­thing about it. The peo­ple have tried and are still try­ing to fight it,” said Mr Litjobo.

“No coun­try in the world can flour­ish with cor­rup­tion be­ing ram­pant. We have cried day and night about cor­rup­tion but all in vain.”

Mr Litjobo said they ex­pected to see for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ’Mam­phono Khaketla be­ing fired “for her ram­pant cor­rup­tion” in­stead of be­ing moved to the For­eign Af­fairs port­fo­lio dur­ing Tues­day’s cab­i­net reshuf­fle.

“But in­stead, we see the very cor­rupt min­is­ter be­ing reshuf­fled to the Min­istry of For­eign and In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs,” he charged.

“One would ex­pect to see this min­is­ter who has ac­cel­er­ated so much in cor­rup­tion go­ing home, but no. She was taken to the For­eign and In­ter- na­tional Af­fairs min­istry to ex­pose us to the whole world as a cor­rupt na­tion. Once cor­rupt al­ways cor­rupt!”

The DC youth league has ac­cused Dr Khaketla of mis­rep­re­sent­ing the rea­sons for can­celling a mul­ti­mil­lion-maloti ve­hi­cle fleet ten­der and so­lic­it­ing a M4 mil­lion bribe from one of the short­listed firms. The min­is­ter has since de­nied the claims and is now de­mand­ing M6 mil­lion in dam­ages from Mr Litjobo and DC youth league Sec­re­taryGen­eral Le­tuka Chafotsa.

“We are im­plor­ing them (min­is­ters) to have mercy on us and leave cab­i­net to pave way for a new prime min­is­ter who will be more un­der­stand­ing and will­ing to ac­com­mo­date the peo­ple’s griev­ances,” he said.

“We de­mand regime change be­cause it is our right and the only way to do that is for the prime min­is­ter and his cab­i­net min­is­ters to step­down.”

Mr Litjobo said gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to fully im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions made by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity was put Le­sotho’s economy at risk. The 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion, led by Botswana’s Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi, car­ried out its in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015 and rec­om­mended Lt-gen Kamoli’s dis­missal to “re­store cred­i­bil­ity and trust of the army by the gen­er­al­ity of Ba­sotho”.

It also rec­om­mended the sus­pen­sion of LDF of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der and trea­son while in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the al­le­ga­tions pro­ceeded in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice. The in­quiry also rec­om­mended an amnesty for the 23 sol­diers fac­ing mutiny charges be­fore the Court Mar­tial.

The sol­diers were ar­rested be­tween May and June 2015 for al­legedly plot­ting to vi­o­lently re­move the LDF com­mand. Eight of the sol­diers have since been re­leased from Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison and placed un­der open ar­rest, which is a form of bail in the mil­i­tary. The other 15 re­main in de­ten­tion.

“The economy and liveli­hoods of Ba­sotho are now in jeop­ardy be­cause gov­ern­ment failed to fully im­ple­ment the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions. The step­ping down of the com­man­der of the LDF on its own is not enough,” said Mr Litjobo.

“We can only man­age to re­tain the AGOA fa­cil­ity if the head of the gov­ern­ment is changed rather than wait­ing for the na­tion to plunge into more chaos.”

Com­ment­ing on the youth’s de­mands, for­mer gov­ern­ment spokesper­son and En­ergy Min­is­ter Khotso Let­satsi said: “It is quite hard to say what these youths mean or want be­cause as far as I am con­cerned, we are try­ing to im­ple­ment the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions.

“How­ever, we can’t im­ple­ment them all at the same time. I guess we are still on the right track and un­less we get to un­der­stand ex­actly what they are try­ing to say, it’s not easy to com­ment.”

DC youth league Pres­i­dent Thuso Litjobo

SOME of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties’ youth league lead­ers dur­ing the press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

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