THE leader of opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Mothetjoa Metsing, has applauded the government for finally meeting his security demands as one of the conditions for his return from exile.
Mr Metsing praised the government while addressing his supporters at a rally in Malingoaneng, in Mokhotlong on Sunday.
Mr Metsing, who had been in self-imposed exile in South Africa since fleeing the country in August 2017, returned home last December. He fled Lesotho citing a government plot to assassinate him. The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that he fled to escape prosecution for corruption charges.
His return along with LCD deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi and Socialist Revolutionaries leader, Teboho Mojapela, was brokered by SADC to enable them to attend the national dialogue on the multi-sector reforms last December.
The opposition set Mr Metsing’s return as one of the preconditions for its participation in the multi-sector reforms that are aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.
Mr Metsing and other opposition leaders only returned home in the aftermath of the agreement that was signed by the coalition of opposition parties and the government on 16 October 2018. The deal was mediated by the SADC facilitator Justice Dikgang Moseneke and his team.
Ahead of his return, Mr Metsing wrote to Justice Moseneke informing him that following “recent discussions and agreements”, he had “applied my mind to the matter of my personal security, a key element of my return conditions”.
“(In terms of) minimum security requirements, I would prefer to be protected by the LDF as per the current practice with regard to VIP protection as follows: two 24-hour close protection bodyguards, four 24-hour mobile protection crew for back-up to bodyguards, four detailed guards for residence, appropriate arms and ammunition, an appropriate vehicle for my transport and an appropriate vehicle for my guard,” Mr Metsing wrote.
He also submitted a list of names for his proposed guards and drivers who were only identified by their surnames.
“My wish is that the team be closely monitored by the LDF and the SADC security element in Lesotho. All my personal security arrangements should be in place when I enter Lesotho.
“My bodyguards and the mobile protection team should be in place and with me at the South Africa/Lesotho border post on the day that I return- the 25th of November 2018.
“All my security arrangements should be in place for the full duration of the national reforms process and until such time as Lesotho has adopted a revised constitution and a democratic election has taken place. Your assistance and support in this very personal and critical area is greatly appreciated.”
While he said that there were many conditions put forward for his return to Lesotho, he said Justice Moseneke promised to ensure that he gets security on arrival in Lesotho.
While it is not clear when Mr Metsing was accorded the personal security as some of this conditions to return to Lesotho, he told the Sunday rally that the government has eventually softened to the demand and had given him the security as demanded.
And on Sunday, Mr Metsing told his supporters at the Malingoaneng rally, in Mokhotlong that the government had finally fulfilled the agreement to provide him with security.
“I must admit that this issue has taken us a long time (to resolve) but today, as you can see this man (bodyguard) standing here, the government has eventually softened and given me the security as demanded. This man is part of the security people that have been assigned to protect me and we should applaud them on this one (providing security).
“However, there are still many issues on the table that we are still pursuing and we should continue to pursue until they have been met. We are where we are today as a country because some have adopted political games that has divided this country and the most important thing that we must work hard for is to unite this nation,” Mr Metsing said.
Meanwhile, Mr Metsing said there was nothing as fulfilling as coming back home to find all LCD leadership structures intact as they did not exchange their loyalty for government jobs.
He said some would have turned their backs on the LCD because they were among the leaders whom the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) supporters plotted to assassinate. He therefore thanked the LCD supporters and other opposition parties for standing with the LCD throughout the trying times.
“We are back today, we have come here to thank God for his protection throughout, spend time with you and tell you the disturbing journey we have travelled. We are happy that most people agree with us today,” Mr Metsing said, adding that there were still some LCD members being persecuted by the Thomas Thabane led administration.