- accuses the duo of using police to fight ABC’s factional wars
ACTING Police and Public Safety minister Tefo Mapesela has accused fellow minister Samonyane Ntsekele and in-coming All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao of using the police to fight their factional political battles.
The irate Mr Mapesela, who is the substantive Defence and National Security minister, this week told the Lesotho Times that Mr Ntsekele and Prof Mahao’s use of the police in their fight for control of the ruling ABC had sown seeds of division within the police service.
Water minister Ntsekele is the secretary general and Mr Mapesela is the spokesperson of the ABC’s old national executive committee (NEC) which has refused to hand over power to Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC elected at the party’s 1-2 February 2019 elective conference.
The old NEC is particularly opposed to Prof Mahao assuming office as they say he is a newcomer who should not be in the driving seat to succeed party leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane when the latter eventually leaves office. Prof Mahao and the rest of the new NEC’s election has also been challenged in the High Court by ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana, Keketso Sello and ABC legislator Mohapi Mohapinyane who allege the elective conference was rigged. They lost their case yesterday. (See cover story on Page 2).
In addition to the court battles, the two NEC factions have also taken their war to party supporters, holding competing rallies on a weekly basis to argue their cases.
The rallies have to be cleared and manned by the police to prevent any outbreaks of violence. It is against this background that Mr Mapesela accused the duo of pressuring the police to clear their rallies, saying in so doing, they had also divided the police force.
“If there is anyone who should be blamed for the tensions within the police institution, it should be Ntsekele and Mahao,” Mr Mapesela said this week.
“They (Ntsekele and Mahao) are the ones who are using police to fight for political positions and not me. I, Tefo Mapesela, am not answerable to either of them.
“But the police appear to be in a dilemma as they pledge their allegiance to the two. When they get to Ntsekele they tell him how much they love him and when they get to the other one (Prof Mahao), they do the same. I have not involved police in politics, they have involved themselves. But those unruly police officers should not come running to me when things turn against them at some point. I won’t be able to help them. They should leave me alone.
“I have never involved soldiers and police in politics. Ntsekele and Mahao are fighting for the ABC’s office keys using the police and so anything to do with the police issues should be directed to them.”
Meanwhile, Prof Mahao said he would not stoop to Mr Mapesela’s “lowly” level by responding to his attacks. He said Mr Mapesela’s attacks suggested that he was probably sick and in need of psychological help.
“That man (Mr Mapesela) needs serious psychological attention. He is in a mental quandary and needs help. He is really stressed and there is something that is affecting his conscience. Therefore, I am not going to entertain his allegations at all,” Prof Mahao said.
On his part, Mr Ntsekele said Dr Thabane was best paced to intervene and deal with the unfair accusations levelled against him by Mr Mapesela.
“I will reserve my comments on these allegations because the matter is now at a stage where it will be handled by our boss (Prime Minister Thabane). He (Dr Thabane) has to intervene because I don’t even know where the accusations are emanating from,” Mr Ntsekele said, adding this was not the first time that Mr Mapesela had unfairly accused him of meddling in the affairs of the police.
Never one to shy away from a fight, the combative Mr Mapesela was recently in the spotlight over his sensational attack on First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane who he accused of meddling in the affairs of government.
In a recent no-holds barred interview with the Lesotho Times’ sister Sunday Express publication, the outspoken minister also demanded that Ms Thabane be called to order for her alleged actions. Mr Mapesela’s outburst followed his sudden removal from the Ministry of Police which he attributed to Ms Thabane’s influence on Dr Thabane. He said he has since been reinstated to the ministry after he subsequently apologised to the First Lady.
“Who does she think she is,” the tough-talking minister said of the First Lady’s alleged interference in government affairs a fortnight ago. He added: “We also have wives and she is behaving as if she were the only woman in this country”.
Mr Mapesela’s outburst was prompted by a phone call from Dr Thabane who allegedly angrily ordered him to call off a meeting that he had just convened with the police authorities in his capacity as acting police minister. Mr Mapesela, who had only been acting in that capacity for three weeks in the aftermath of the resignation of All Basotho Convention (ABC) stalwart ‘Mampho Mokhele, was told by Dr Thabane to call off the meeting as he was no longer the acting minister.
A week before his tirade against Ms Thabane, Mr Mapesela had also sensationally attacked the three top security chiefs; Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Mojalefa Letsoela, Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.
The minister accused the security chiefs of refusing to take lawful orders and of engaging in actions that he said could collapse the current democratically elected government. He also accused them of “badmouthing” him to Prime Minister Thabane.
The minister further accused the trio of divulging sensitive security information to other ministers thereby “compromising the security of the whole nation”. Mr Ntsekele particularly incurred the wrath of Mr Mapesela for allegedly working in cahoots with the trio and meddling in the defence and police ministries while allegedly “failing to effectively run his own water ministry”.
Mr Ntsekele denied any wrongdoing then saying he was not interfering in the work of other ministries.