LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, says more than 50 years after independence, Lesotho remains poor and underdeveloped due to the poor calibre of its leaders.
He said the “poor” leaders were behind the persistent political instability that had resulted in assassination of army commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Khoantle Motšomotšo, and other senior army officers. He also blamed the leaders for what he said was the unjust detention of former army commander, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli.
Mr Metsing said this while addressing an LCD rally in Koro-koro, Maseru on Sunday.
Lesotho celebrates its 53rd anniversary of independence from Britain tomorrow. While sister country, Botswana which also achieved independence in 1966, has made great strides in terms of socio-economic development, Lesotho remains mired in under-development with chronic poverty and high unemployment. This is despite the country boasting of diamond reserves, abundant water and a conducive agricultural climate.
Mr Metsing, a former deputy prime minister in two coalition governments, attributed Lesotho’s problems to the poor calibre of its leaders since independence.
“It’s been over 50 years since Lesotho got its independence but we are a very poor nation which cannot even tackle joblessness because of the poor calibre of political leaders that we are,” Mr Metsing said.
“If it were not so, General Kamoli would not be in detention and we wouldn’t have had the assassination of the other army commander (Lt-Gen Motšomotšo) and his two officers, Tefo Hashatsi and Bulane Sechele. So many civilians wouldn’t have died at the hands of the police.”
Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was murdered at his Ratjomose Barracks offices on 5 September 2019, allegedly by Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi.
The two were killed shortly afterwards in a gunfight with Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards.
Lt-Gen Kamoli was arrested in October 2017 and he remains in remand prison awaiting trial for the June 2015 murder of army commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.
Lt-Gen Kamoli also faces a murder charge stemming from the 30 August 2014 killing of Police Sub-Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko.
Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was shot and killed by soldiers during the attempted coup of 30 August 2014 at the Police Headquarters in Maseru. The soldiers, who allegedly acted on the instructions of the then army commander, Lt-Gen Kamoli, also raided several other police stations in Maseru and seized an assortment of weapons.
Lt-Gen Kamoli also faces 14 counts of attempted murder in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.
But Mr Metsing has persistently claimed that Lt-Gen Kamoli is innocent and merely being persecuted by the Thomas Thabane regime. He has constantly called for the release of Lt-Gen Kamoli and other detained soldiers.
On Sunday he repeated his call for their release, accusing the government of selective justice by allegedly allowing back into the army some soldiers who were accused of mutiny during Lt-Gen Kamoli’s tenure. He said Lt-Gen Kamoli was only being victimised because he had “put his head on the block” to protect him and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from mercenaries who wanted to assassinate them.
“Kamoli is not in detention over issues of 2014. In 2009, some mercenaries came to Lesotho to kill me and the then premier, Ntate Mosisili. And this (Lt-Gen Kamoli) is the man who put his head on the block to protect us. He is only detained today because we are not in power.
“It is time people accepted things for what they are and stopped blaming others. There are some soldiers who were accused of mutiny and ran away with Ntate Thabane. They now walk the streets freely as if nothing happened but if we were to go by justice, they also ought to be locked up.
“The only reason why they still have not been tried is because they are backing the one in charge of today’s government. This is a vicious cycle and we can’t afford to go on like that and drag our security institutions into our politics. This is not how this country should be governed, hence we call for a government of national unity (GNU) so that we find a solution of how best to come out of this quandary,” Mr Metsing said.
He also accused the Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) of slandering him to win the June 2017 national elections.
“They (ABC) dragged my name in the mud and got sympathy votes. They called me a murderer and a thief. They said I was corrupt, called me all sorts of bad names and got political mileage.”
He, however, praised Dr Thabane for their talks last month which he said had yielded agreements on the payment of his terminal benefits as well as the return of exiled politicians, serving and former members of the security agencies.
He reiterated his call for a GNU as the “best way” of resolving the perennial instability in the country.
“I have suffered at the hands of Ntate Thabane and so have my people (LCD supporters). But I have found it necessary to hold talks with him and bury the hatchet for the good of this country. It is not that I have forgotten (the suffering) but I believe it (holding talks) is the right thing to do. We both believe that it is only when we are united that we can save this country.
“Even if we don’t see eye to eye with other people in parliament, our objective is to work for the unity of this country, peace and the welfare of its people.”
He said the talks with Dr Thabane had started yielding some results as he would soon receive his long overdue terminal benefits for his tenure as deputy prime minister in the previous Pakalitha Mosisili regime from 2015 to 2017.
“These are the results of my talks with Ntate Thabane and credit should be given where it’s due. We both agree that there is no peace without talks.
“We need peace in this country and I have heard most political leaders saying the same. In that case, Kamoli should be freed. Our love for this country should surpass our hatred and differences with one another. It is time to bury the hatchet. Those (soldiers) who were accused of mutiny are now working and have never faced a day in court. We are not even suggesting that they should but we are saying it’s time to let go (of the grudges).
“Ntate Thabane and your team, you all know that Ntate Kamoli is innocent. Therefore let’s all agree that arguing won’t help us in any way. There is no alternative to talks, we all need to sit together and agree.
“It’s very simple to topple this government but we all need to accept that we have erred and have wronged the nation. No man is an island and therefore no one can work for peace in silos,” said Mr Metsing.