I’m not coming back: Metsing
. . . says will only return through SADC mediation
EXILED Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has rejected the government’s invitation to a Multi-stakeholder Forum on Reforms saying it was a ploy to lure him to his death.
Instead, the former deputy premier has called for SADC to mediate talks with the government over his and other exiled leaders’ return to “ensure transparency and honesty”.
This is contained in a searing letter Mr Metsing wrote to Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, in response to the latter’s invitation to the exiled leaders to the Multi-stakeholder Forum scheduled for this month.
Lesotho is set to implement a host of reforms encompassing the judiciary, media, legislature, security and constitutional sectors among others instigated by SADC.
The reforms are meant to bring stability in the perennially restive Kingdom.
In the invitation letter, issued on 15 November 2017, Mr Mphaka assures the exiled leaders of “maximum” security upon their return.
Mr Metsing, his LCD deputy Tšeliso Mokhosi and Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, fled to South Africa separately in August this year.
The trio skipped the country citing tip-offs from “trusted sources” about plots to assassinate them and alleged persecution by the government.
However, the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane-led four-party coalition has since rubbished the allegations, saying the government would not achieve anything in persecuting the opposition.
In his undated response to Mr Mphaka, the LCD leader states that he and Messrs Mokhosi and Mokhothu share a scepticism on the sincerity of the government in the invitation.
The letter is also copied to SADC chairperson and South African President Jacob Zuma, SADC Facilitator to Lesotho Cyril Ramaphosa, SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax and the Chair of the SADC Oversight Committee.
“I am aware that the same letter was published in the social media, and reports on it were carried in the local newspapers circulating in Lesotho, even before I could receive it,” says Mr Metsing.
He accuses the government of using National Assembly Speaker Sephiri Motanyane to “unlawfully” relieve Mr Mokhothu of the position of official leader of the opposition in parliament.
Mr Motanyane had ruled that a legislator would qualify as an official leader of the opposition if he/she leads a political party commanding a majority in the opposition.
The legislator would also qualify if his/ her coalition of parties has at least 25 percent of the total membership of the National Assembly. The DC has 29 seats, one short of the 30-seat threshold to be the official opposition in the 120seat National Assembly.
“. . . the subsequent attitude of the government in trying to emasculate the opposition using the Speaker of the National Assembly has laid bare the hidden ill intentions about Hon Mokhothu which are nothing but harmful,” Mr Metsing asserts.
He further alleges that Mr Mokhosi was subjected to “barbaric treatment and torture” while in police custody.
“He (Mr Mokhosi) was forced to make a confession to the Magistrate to deny that he had been tortured otherwise the police threatened to kill him if he made disclosures on the torture,” says Mr Metsing.
However, a SADC Ministerial Double Troika fact-finding mission to Lesotho has since poured cold water on Mr Mokhosi’s claims of police torture, saying there was no evidence to back up the allegation.
The police have also denied the allegation.
Mr Metsing states that his life is in “serious danger” if he were to return to Lesotho.
“During the inauguration of the Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane), and in the National Stadium, a spectacle that symbolised the ill intentions about my life unfolded.
“A tractor pulling a carrier was driven on the track inside the stadium. On the carrier was a coffin draped with LCD party colours. On the coffin was also my photograph.
“This macabre and sordid performance was carried out in a State function in the presence of foreign dignitaries, including the President of Zambia, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa. The Prime Minister said nothing about this unusual spectacle.”
Mr Metsing also accuses Dr Thabane’s Press Attaché, Thabo Thakalekoala of inciting All Basotho Convention (ABC) members to storm the offices of Moafrika FM “in protest to its perceived leanings to the Congress parties, of which my party is an integral part”.
“Instead of a rebuke coming from the Prime Minister, his government caused the arrest of the Chief Editor of Moafrika FM, Mr (Ratabane) Ramainoane, on frivolous charges of criminal defamation, it being alleged that he defamed a police man who is alleged to have assaulted Mr Mokhosi. “This was a blatant affront to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression under the Constitution.”
Mr Thakalekoala rubbished the allega- tions when contacted yesterday, and called Mr Metsing a “liar”.
“I never instructed anyone to attack MOAfrika FM and no ABC member ever engaged in such an act. Metsing is lying and just trying to tarnish my reputation,” he said.
“He (Mr Metsing) should conduct himself like a responsible person and heed the government’s plea to come and assist in the reforms as a political leader.”
Mr Metsing also accused ABC Secretary-general Samonyane Ntsekele of stating on social media the “desire of his leader, the prime minister, that I should be killed would soon be realised”.
Mr Ntsekele’s cell phone repeatedly rang unanswered when contacted by this reporter.
“Similar sentiments were expressed by some Ministers and members of parliament of the ABC of which I have proof. It was clear in their conversation that they derived pleasure at the torture and torments that were being unleashed on Hon Mokhosi by the police.”
He also cites a Lesotho Times story in which Dr Thabane declares the LCD leader a “fugitive from justice”.
Mr Metsing lambasts Dr Thabane for acting in “bad faith” by filling “key positions with his own people, with no qualifications to forestall any effects of the reforms on such key positions”.
The re-appointment of the President of the Court of Appeal (Justice Kananelo Mosito) who he superimposed on an incumbent President of that Court Justice Nugent, forcing the latter to resign in disgust, is one such example.
“We are desirous to participate in the reforms process, but the government is clearly placing obstacles in our way, and it plays political games with our lives, reputations and the future of our beloved country.”
The exiled leaders, he says prefer a SADC mediated return “because it is the only credible institution that will ensure transparency and honesty in the dealings we have with the government”.
“We are painfully aware that the Prime Minister does not know how to keep his word as has been shown in many instances in the past, and SADC is well aware of this. He simply cannot be trusted,” adds Mr Metsing.
Meanwhile Mr Metsing is facing extradition by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) after he ignored a call to appear in court earlier this month to answer to a corruption charge
DCEO spokesperson ‘Matlhokomelo Senoko yesterday told the Lesotho Times that there was no new development to the case.
LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing