Ex­iled lead­ers’ re­turn in limbo

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

THE re­turn of ex­iled lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion which had been slated for Sun­day is hang­ing in the bal­ance amid in­di­ca­tions their par­ties are pin­ning their hopes on the me­di­a­tion of South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho, Cyril Ramaphosa, with the gov­ern­ment.

Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) spokesper­son, Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe had told our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Sun­day Ex­press that the three lead­ers, Thomas Tha­bane of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Th­e­sele ’Maserib­ane (BNP) and the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho’s (RCL) Keketso Ran­tšo had set Sun­day as the date of their re­turn.

The trio fled the coun­try in May 2015, cit­ing plots to as­sas­si­nate them by mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) and ac­cu­sa­tion the lat­ter has ve­he­mently de­nied.

How­ever, with Sun­day fast ap­proach­ing, the op­po­si­tion told the Le­sotho Times that fol­low­ing a se­ries of con­sul­ta­tions with the SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee, they were waiting to hear from Mr Ramaphosa on a for­ward for their lead­ers’ safe re­turn.

The Over­sight Com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished by an Ex­tra­or­di­nary Sum­mit of the SADC Dou­ble Troika held on 3 July 2015 in Pre­to­ria, South Africa with a brief to “in­ter­vene as ap­pro­pri­ate in con­sul­ta­tion with Mr Ramaphosa, who is also South African vice-pres­i­dent.

BNP deputy leader, Joang Mo­lapo this week told the Le­sotho Times the op­po­si­tion par­ties were told by the SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee to con­fer with Mr Ramaphosa on the frame­work for the ex­iled lead­ers’ re­turn.

“They (Over­sight Com­mit­tee) said the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor had to know the con­di­tions un­der which the lead­ers were sup­posed to re­turn,” Chief Mo­lapo said.

“Maybe he (Mr Ramaphosa) will come as he did when he brought back the se­cu­rity chiefs who were sent on a leave of ab­sence ahead of the Fe­bru­ary 2015 polls.”

He said it was im­per­a­tive that the lead­ers re­turned as soon as pos­si­ble, adding, they would make a greater im­pact than they would when they were in ex­ile.

He said mas­sive ral­lies were planned for the day of their re­turn, adding, “We are deal­ing with lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues and we need to have per­mits that will al­low peo­ple to come and hear their lead­ers speak to them on that day”.

“We are hap­pily look­ing for­ward to their re­turn and our key ex­pec­ta­tion is that they will be safe.

“If on the death of (for­mer army com­man­der) Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao we made noise, then we would am­plify it 10 times more if our lead­ers were to be in harm’s way upon their re­turn,” Mr Mo­lapo said.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by sol­diers who had come to ar­rest him on al­le­ga­tions that he was part of a group of sol­diers plot­ting to over­throw the army lead­er­ship of re­tired com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli. The Ma­hao fam­ily dis­putes the army’s nar­ra­tive, ar- gu­ing he was killed in cold blood.

ABC spokesper­son, Tefo Mape­sela con­curred with Chief Mo­lapo, adding the op­po­si­tion had con­tin­u­ously kept the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor in­formed about devel­op­ments sur­round­ing the ar­range­ments for the re­turn of the ex­iled lead­ers.

With­out elab­o­rat­ing, Mr Mape­sela ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of pay­ing lip ser­vice to safety guar­an­tees for the ex­iled lead­ers.

“(Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha) Mo­sisili’s gov­ern­ment has no in­ter­est in the re­turn of our lead­ers,” Mr Mape­sela said.

Mean­while Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki whose party has an agree­ment with the tri­par­tite op­po­si­tion lead­ers re­gard­ing the for­ma­tion of a unity gov­ern­ment to re­place the cur­rent seven par­ties coali­tion gov­ern­ment, said he had ad­vised the ex­iled lead­ers to en­sure that they com­mu­ni­cated with Mr Ramaphosa, “so that the fa­cil­i­ta­tor can even ac­com­pany them back to the coun­try to en­sure their safe re­turn”.

“Even the gov­ern­ment should be prop­erly alerted about the re­turn and we don’t need to take chances here.

“Even the po­lice should know about this of­fi­cially so that when we bring them (lead­ers) in our mas­sive con­voys the po­lice won’t give us prob­lems.

“I will be the one to col­lect them from their re­spec­tive des­ti­na­tions to their re­spec­tive homes in the coun­try. I will be spear­head­ing the process my­self,” Mr Moleleki said in an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times this week.

The AD leader said the date for the trio’s re­turn would de­pend on their dis­cus­sions with Mr Ramaphosa.

For his part, Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesper­son, Ron­nie Mamoepa did not give pre­cise in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the mat­ter, telling the Le­sotho Times that: “SADC man­dated the deputy pres­i­dent as fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho to en­gage the three op­po­si­tion lead­ers re­gard­ing their re­turn home.

“In pur­suance of the mat­ter he (Mr Ramaphosa) met them in Pre­to­ria (South Africa late last year,” Mr Mamoepa said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.