Exiled Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, says Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s testimony before the SADC Commission of Inquiry this week was “irrelevant” to its mandate.
Mr Metsing appeared before the Commission on Monday and Tuesday, and spent the better part of the interaction on the country’s political history and personalities of his former government partners, ex-premier Thomas Thabane and Chief ‘Maseribane.
However, the BNP leader said the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader had exposed his “hypocrisy” by not addressing the Commission’s major concern, namely the fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao by the army on 25 June this year.
Chief ‘Maseribane told the Lesotho Times in Ladybrand, South Africa, yesterday that Mr Metsing had “tried to confuse the Commission and make it lose focus through his rambling”.
The BNP leader also branded Mr Metsing “a traitor” for turning against him and Dr Thabane and making them “look like devils” to the nation in his testimony.
“I heard him continuing to spread this lie that he threatened to pull out of the previous coalition government because he was not being consulted by the prime minister on key decisions.
“Yet in his letter dated 4 September 2014 to the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, he acknowledged that the prime minister can’t consult his deputy on every issue.
“But when he was speaking to the Commission, he said a different story altogether,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
“Metsing wanted me and Ntate Thabane to appear like devils and him an angel, to the Commission and nation at large.
“But here was the same man who came running to me and Ntate Thabane just before the 26 May 2012 National Assembly elections claiming that the Prime Minister (Pakalitha Mosisili) and (current Police Minister) Monyane Moleleki were on a mission to kill him. Now he has forgotten all that.
“The previous three-party coalition government of the LCD, BNP and Ntate Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) was established after Metsing had approached us. I also personally deployed the late BNP activist and former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) member, Hosana Sako, to provide security for Metsing when he was so scared of these very same people he is now in government with.
“What I am advising him is that he must stop badmouthing me before the international community because we sympathised with him when he was in trouble.”
According to the BNP leader, the current seven-party government led by Dr Mosisili would soon regret their alliance with Mr Metsing.
“Ntate Mosisili and his allies don’t know what’s coming. Metsing is going to destroy their government because when we took power in 2012, Metsing was still bitter that Ntate Mosisili had fired him as Minister of Communications, Science and Technology that very same year.
“When we came to power, Metsing asked us to make sure that Moleleki was arrested for (allegedly) issuing illegal mining licences and stealing money from the then Ministry of Mining and Natural Resources, which he headed.
“Metsing is not yet finished with Moleleki’s issue; he will surprise Ntate Mosisili one day.
“Myself and Ntate Thabane; we were not part of Ntate Mosisili’s cabinet but Metsing was. We believed what he was telling us because he was once part of them. Metsing was the one directing our government on how to build cases against Moleleki but now that he is in a coalition with them, he wants to claim that he is innocent,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
According to Chief ‘Maseribane, Mr Metsing had no right to call him a rabble-rouser befeore the Commission.
“Metsing does not know me; he was not even part of the youth who were fighting for the peace and stability of Lesotho in 1998 like me. I am proud of 1998 because I did not commit any crime despite fighting for free, fair and transparent elections. Where was he if indeed, he knows what happened in 1998?
“He doesn’t have the right to call me names simply because of what he read in newspapers or hearsay. I am not a rabble-rouser but will take a position against thieves and murderers, that’s all.
“Instead of talking about the previous coalition government before the SADC Commission, he could have confessed that he failed the LCD in a very short space of time.
“After the formation of the Democratic Congress (DC) from the LCD by Ntate Mosisili in 2012, the LCD deteriorated with Metsing as the new leader.
“His party only won two constituencies in the last elections in February 2015, from its previous tally of what,10? If it was not for my 1998 efforts, Metsing must know from today that he could not have been able to score 10 more parliamentary seats in this year’s elections.. The Mixed Member Proportional electoral model was the result of my efforts of 1998.”
On exiled LDF members, Chief ‘Maseribane said Mr Metsing was wrong to only talk about Colonel Matela Matobakele and ignoring “over 50 others” who have sought refuge in South Africa for fear of arrest or assassination by the military.
“What angers me is that while testifying before the Commission about Colonel Matobakele’s case, Metsing spoke about Ntate Thabane favouring Matobakele over Lt Gen Kamoli as LDF commander. He chose not to tell the honest truth of what led to Colonel Motobakele’s escape to South Africa in February last year.
“Maybe Metsing needs a reminder; Colonel Matobakele fled the country because he knows the truth about the bombings of the homes of Ms Liabiloe Ramoholi in Moshoeshoe II and former Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana in Ha Abia.
“Colonel Matobakele was there when the bombs were taken out of the LDF armoury and when he asked his superiors about them, he was told that they were going to be used at an exercise.
“Those questions he asked put his life in danger and he had to flee the country.
“So many things happened in the LDF until Lt Gen Mahao was appointed as army commander in August last year. But Metsing is not saying those things and is contradicting himself before the Commission believing he is pleasing his supporters and political allies.”
Mr Metsing was not immediately available to respond to Chie ‘Maseribane’s claims.
Meanwhile, Chief ‘Maseribane is also expected to testify before the SADC Commission headed by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana.
In addition to probing Brigadier Mahao’s death, the Commission’s terms of reference also include reviewing army investigations into the alleged kidnapping of former soldiers and the alleged murders of members of the opposition by the LDF.
In addition, the body is set to investigate the legality and manner of the removal of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as LDF Commander in August 2014 and his reappointment in May this year.
The probe team would also look into allegations made by opposition parties and civic society that Lt Gen Kamoli’s reinstatement had resulted in divisions in the military as well as political and security instability in Lesotho.
The Commission is expected to take 90 days to complete its investigation.