I’m not com­ing back: Mets­ing

. . . says will only re­turn through SADC me­di­a­tion

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Mo­halenyane Phakela

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

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