Govt re­in­states Ma­hao, nul­li­fies Kamoli ap­point­ment

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Keiso Mohloboli

THE gov­ern­ment has posthu­mously re­in­stated the slain Maa­parankoe Ma­hao to his for­mer po­si­tion as com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) and at the rank of Lieu­tenant Gen­eral.

The re­in­state­ment, which had been on the cards af­ter a re­quest early this year by Lt-Gen Ma­hao’s fam­ily, was con­firmed in a re­cent edi­tion of the gov­ern­ment gazette.

The same gazette also nul­li­fies the May 2015 ap­point­ment of Lt-Gen Kamoli as LDF com­man­der by the Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led for­mer seven par­ties’ gov­ern­ment.

Lt-Gen Ma­hao was ap­pointed as LDF com­man­der on 29 Au­gust 2014 af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane fired the then army com­man­der, Re­tired Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli for al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

How­ever, Rtd Lt-Gen Kamoli re­jected the dis­missal chal­leng­ing its le­git­i­macy and al­legedly pro­ceeded to launch a coup at­tempt on 30 Au­gust 2014. The coup at­tempt kick-started a chain of events that cul­mi­nated in the snap elec­tions of Fe­bru­ary 2015 which ush­ered in the for­mer seven par­ties’ coali­tion in place of Dr Tha­bane’s first gov­ern­ment.

Upon as­sum­ing power, the Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led seven-party coali­tion re­in­stated Lt-Gen Kamoli, ar­gu­ing that his dis­missal and Lt-Gen Ma­hao’s pro­mo­tion were il­le­gal.

Rtd Lt Gen Kamoli was re­in­stated in a Gov­ern­ment Gazette dated 22 May 2015. Another gazette that was is­sued on the same day an­nounced the ter­mi­na­tion of Lt-Gen Ma­hao’s ap­point­ment as LDF com­man­der and de­moted him to his ear­lier rank as a Bri­gadier.

Lt-Gen Ma­hao chal­lenged his de­mo­tion in the High Court and the case col­lapsed af­ter he was as­sas­si­nated on 25 June 2015 by his LDF col­leagues.

How­ever, the re­cent gov­ern­ment gazette con­firms his post­hu­mous re­in­state­ment.

“King Letsie III, pur­suant to sec­tion 12 (1) (a) and 21(b) of the Le­sotho De­fence Force Act of 1996 and act­ing in ac­cor­dance with the ad­vice of the Prime Min­is­ter (Thomas Tha­bane) makes the no­tice that Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao is re­in­stated as the Com­man­der of the LDF with ef­fect from 29 Au­gust 2014 to 22 May 2015,” part of the gazette states.

The gazette fur­ther re­peals the ter­mi­na­tion of Lt Gen Ma­hao’s 29 Au­gust 2014 ap­point­ment and the re­in­state­ment of Lt Gen Kamoli by Dr Mo­sisili’s gov­ern­ment with ef­fect from 29 Au­gust 2014.

“The ap­point­ment of Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Kennedy Tlali Kamoli as Com­man­der of LDF is ter­mi­nated with ef­fect from 29 Au­gust 2014”.

Ef­forts to ob­tain com­ment from the army on the im­pli­ca­tions of the gov­ern­ment’s rul­ing were fruit­ful­ness yes­ter­day as the LDF Spokesper­son, Lieu­tenant Colonel Mashili Mashili, re­ferred this pub­li­ca­tion to the De­fence Min­is­ter and the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary who were not reach­able on their mo­bile phones.

The re­in­state­ment of Lt-Gen Ma­hao and the nul­li­fi­ca­tion of Lt Gen Kamoli’s ap­point­ment could mean that Lt Gen Kamoli’s ten­ure from May 2015 un­til he was forced to re­tire on 1 De­cem­ber 2016 was il­le­gal.

This could also mean that all the pro­mo­tions and other ac­tions that Lt-Gen Kamoli car­ried out were il­le­gal.

The gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing for a trea­son trial of 15 sol­diers and three for­mer min­is­ters in Dr Tha­bane’s first gov­ern­ment from 2012 to 2015.

The trea­son charges stem from the 30 Au­gust 2014 at­tempted coup which al­legedly re­sulted from the dis­sat­is­fac­tion among some sol­diers with Dr Tha­bane’s sack­ing of Lt-Gen Kamoli on 29 May 2014 and his re­place­ment with Lt-Gen Ma­hao.

A con­fi­den­tial re­port has been pre­pared by a lead­ing law firm com­mis­sioned by the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions (DPP) to help in for­mu­lat­ing the charges to be pre­ferred against all the cul­prits in­volved in the 30 Au­gust 2014 at­tempted coup.

The re­port shows that at least three cab­i­net min­is­ters in the first Tha­bane coali­tion and 15 LDF of­fi­cers will face a plethora of charges in­clud­ing trea­son for their part in the 30 Au­gust 2014 events.

“The salient facts that led to the events of 30 Au­gust 2014 was the re­moval of the then army com­man­der, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli on 29 Au­gust 2014 by the then Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane and ap­point­ment of the late Lt-Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao as the com­man­der.

“This move by Dr Tha­bane be­came un­pop­u­lar and was not well re­ceived by Lt-Gen Kamoli and most of the army com­mand as well as some coali­tion part­ners in gov­ern­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, mem­bers of the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD).

“In the evening of 29 Au­gust 2014, the re­moved army com­man­der Lt-Gen Kamoli called an ur­gent meet­ing of se­nior mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) at Makoanyane Bar­racks (in Maseru),” the law firm chron­i­cled.

“It was in this meet­ing that Lt-Gen Kamoli in­formed the se­nior LDF mem­bers that he had re­ceived in­tel­li­gence that the po­lice were go­ing to hand over guns to some mem­bers of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) which they will use to shoot and kill mem­bers of the LCD on 1 Sep- tem­ber 2014 dur­ing the LCD’s po­lit­i­cal rally to protest the pro­ro­ga­tion of par­lia­ment.

“Lt-Gen Kamoli said the army had to in­ter­vene and stop the po­lice from hand­ing over guns to the ABC.”

The re­port stated that Kamoli’s ac­tions were un­law­ful as he had been law­fully re­moved from the po­si­tion of army com­man­der.

“Another fac­tor that makes the (army) op­er­a­tion un­law­ful is the fact that dur­ing the day of the 29th of Au­gust 2014, Lt-Gen Ma­hao was ap­pointed the new com­man­der of the LDF by Dr Tha­bane act­ing in ac­cor­dance with Sec­tion 145 (4) of the con­sti­tu­tion of 1999. This means LtGen Kamoli had been re­moved as com­man­der of LDF and was no longer oc­cu­py­ing the of­fice of the com­man­der of the LDF in the evening of 29 Au­gust 2014.

“Ef­fec­tively, when Rtd Lt-Gen Kamoli called an ur­gent meet­ing of the se­nior of­fi­cials of the LDF, where he au­tho­rised the op­er­a­tion, all de­ci­sions made by him which in­clude the au­tho­ri­sa­tion of the op­er­a­tion were null and void from the be­gin­ning be­cause he could not have au­tho­rised such an op­er­a­tion as he was no longer com­man­der of the LDF at the time,” the law firm states.

Mean­while, the Ma­hao fam­ily rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Qa­mako Ma­hao, yes­ter­day wel­comed the gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to re­in­state Lt-Gen Ma­hao, say­ing those who op­posed the de­ci­sion had prob­a­bly over­looked the se­ri­ous­ness of the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions caused by il­le­gal re­moval of Lt Gen Ma­hao and il­le­gal re­in­state­ment of Lt Gen Kamoli.

“The ac­tion of gov­ern­ment to le­galise Maa­parankoe’s ap­point­ment as LDF Com­man­der from Au­gust 2014 un­til when he was il­le­gally fired in May 2015 has made the Ma­hao fam­ily very happy”.

“What most of the peo­ple do not un­der­stand is that there are so many peo­ple who suf­fered and who still need to claim for all the suf­fer­ings caused by this is­sue (of the il­le­gal re­moval of Lt Gen Ma­hao).

“The SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry find­ings clearly in­di­cate that Maa­parankoe was il­le­gally re­moved from the LDF com­mand. What this (ac­tion of re­in­stat­ing Lt-Gen Ma­hao) by the gov­ern­ment then means is that all the ac­tiv­i­ties which hap­pened be­tween 29 Au­gust 2014 and 1 De­cem­ber 2016 were il­le­gal un­der the watch of Kamoli,” Mr Ma­hao said.

He said there were se­ri­ous le­gal im­pli­ca­tions to the ex­tent that even the pro­mo­tions that were ef­fected dur­ing Lt Gen Kamoli’s ten­ure were null and void.

The late LDF Com­man­der Lt Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao

THE late Lt-Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

RE­TIRED Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli.

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