SA pledges to rein in Mets­ing

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE South African gov­ern­ment has pledged to rein in on the ex­iled op­po­si­tion Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) leader, Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, and stop him from us­ing South Africa to in­cite violence against the gov­ern­ment.

South African Min­is­ter of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co­op­er­a­tion, Lindiwe Sisulu, made the pledge in re­sponse to a re­quest by the gov­ern­ment af­ter Mr Mets­ing’s threats in March this year to so­licit help from un­spec­i­fied sources “ev­ery­where” to en­sure LCD sup­port­ers de­fend them­selves against per­ceived per­se­cu­tion by the Thomas Tha­bane-led gov­ern­ment.

Ms Sisulu also as­sured the gov­ern­ment that its re­quest for Mr Mets­ing’s ex­tra­di­tion to face cor­rup­tion charges was also “re­ceiv­ing due con­sid­er­a­tion” from the South African gov­ern­ment.

Mr Mets­ing has been holed up in the neigh­bour­ing coun­try af­ter flee­ing Le­sotho last Au­gust cit­ing an al­leged plot to as­sas­si­nate him.

The gov­ern­ment has nev­er­the­less re­futed his claims, in­sist­ing that Mr Mets­ing fled to es­cape pros­e­cu­tion for cor­rup­tion.

Mr Mets­ing made his con­tro­ver­sial re­marks which the gov­ern­ment viewed as an in­cite­ment to violence dur­ing his 51st birth­day cel­e­bra­tions in Lady­brand, South Africa in March this year.

Mr Mets­ing said that his party’s pa­tience with the gov­ern­ment was fast run­ning out as the po­lice con­tin­ued to “tar­get de­fense­less LCD sup­port­ers” whom he said would now be forced to de­fend them­selves.

He said he had al­ready asked SADC to in­ter­vene to end the “per­se­cu­tion” and “pros­e­cu­tions” of his sup­port­ers. He was also ask­ing the cur­rent coali­tion of Dr Tha­bane for le­git­i­mate dia­logue to achieve last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho.

“I can go ev­ery­where to ask for as­sis­tance if need arises for us to pro­tect our­selves and that it why I am pray­ing hard that we help our­selves by show­ing these peo­ple that it is in our col­lec­tive in­ter­est to fol­low peace­ful ways be­cause any other path will en­sure that Le­sotho is re­duced to noth­ing.

“We will not al­ways cry. The LCD sup­port­ers will not con­tinue to cry when I am still their leader or be ex­pected to just keep quiet.

“Our re­quest is that the other par­ties must work with us to nor­malise the sit­u­a­tion and we have told SADC that a peace­ful and sta­ble path is the only one for Le­sotho be­cause the other one will re­duce Le­sotho to noth­ing.

Fol­low­ing Mr Mets­ing’s ut­ter­ances, the Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, Mr Le­sego Mak­gothi, wrote to Ms Sisulu to ex­press the gov­ern­ment’s con­cern over the LCD leader’s con­duct.

Ms Sisulu, who also chairs the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC), replied by re­as­sur­ing Mr Mak­gothi the her gov­ern­ment would en­gage Mr Mets­ing and ad­vise him against “us­ing South Africa to in­cite ag­i­ta­tion in the King­dom (of Le­sotho)”

“We have noted all the is­sues raised in your let­ter and would like to as­sure you that our gov­ern­ment will en­gage Mr Mets­ing and ad­vise him to re­frain from us­ing South Africa to in­cite ag­i­ta­tion in the King­dom.

“We wish to in­form you that your gov­ern­ment’s re­quest for his (Mr Mets­ing) ex­tra­di­tion is re­ceiv­ing due con­sid­er­a­tion by my gov­ern­ment,” Ms Sisulu stated in her re­cent let­ter to Mr Mak­gothi.

This week, Mr Mak­gothi told the Le­sotho Times that Mr Mets­ing was taken to task over his con­duct dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion in Lady­brand last month.

The meet­ing was fa­cil­i­tated by the SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee as part of ef­forts to en­able the two sides to find com­mon ground over the op­po­si­tion leader’s pos­si­ble re­turn to the coun­try to lead his party in the multi-sec­tor re­forms process.

“We had asked Min­is­ter Sisulu to rep­ri­mand Mr Mets­ing on his ut­ter­ances which amounted to in­cite­ment of violence.

“We asked her to make him aware that he was on for­eign soil and if there was any­thing that he felt that he wanted to ad­dress in the coun­try he should just come over be­cause we don’t even know why he fled the coun­try,” Mr Mak­gothi said.

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