Mosisili goes after Thabane

Lesotho Times
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Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili


Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has accused opposition All Basotho Convention leader, Thomas Thabane of “humiliating” King Letsie III by allegedly using “disparaging” remarks against the head of state during a press conference held in Maseru early this month.

Dr Mosisili said as a result, police should take “legal action” against “all people” suspected to have “talked bad” about His Majesty in the same way they did with political activist, Bokang Ramatšella.

Dr Mosisili, who is also leader of the main-ruling Democratic Congress (DC) in the outgoing seven-party coalition government, said this in a televised address to the nation early this week.

“A few weeks ago the government realised there was a suspicion that Mr Bokang Ramatšella, of the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), had uttered disparaging remarks against His Majesty King Letsie III on radio station called Thaha-Khube FM,” Dr Mosisili said in his address on Monday.

“Rightly so, the police took legal action against Mr Ramatšella and the matter is before the courts of law as we speak.

“We hope that the same charges will also be instituted against the presenter of the programme which Mr Ramatšella was a guest, the management of the radio station as well as a certain listener who phoned-in during the programme and talked bad about the Matsieng chieftainship.”

Dr Mosisili said if Mr Ramatšella’s arrest was done in the name of justice, then “everyone who talks bad about the King should similarly face the music”.

“Recently we heard that Mr Thabane, who was the official leader of opposition in the Ninth Parliament which has just been dissolved, uttered outrageous statements against the King in a very disrespectful manner,” Dr Mosisili added.

In the press conference that was held in Maseru early this month, Dr Thabane lashed out at King Letsie III for acquiescing to Dr Mosisili’s advice to dissolve parliament, saying His Majesty risked sullying the goodwill of Basotho by being “ensnared” by politicians.

Dr Thabane’s ire was ignited by the dissolution of parliament on 6 March 2017 to pave the way for elections in the aftermath of the successful opposition sponsored  no-confidence motion against Dr Mosisili’s government on 1 March 2017.

Dr Mosisili also said Dr Thabane disrespected the King in several ways, the first being “that he said the King wanted him to do an impossible thing such as to hatch an egg as if he was a chicken”.

“Honestly, such derogatory remarks cannot be directed at the King regardless of who utters them. It is even worse where such statements are being uttered from the mouth of the leader of His Majesty’s loyal opposition, who is also the former prime minister,” Dr Mosisili charged.

Dr Mosisili further stated that on the same occasion, Dr Thabane shamelessly said His Majesty was not his age-mate “but rather his age-mate was King Letsie III’s father, the late King Moshoeshoe II”.

Dr Mosisili said this showed that Dr Thabane had a clear intention “to demean and disparage the King”.

He said even where Dr Thabane implied that King Letsie III was an age-mate to his children, “that too is derogatory to the King and an unwelcome statement that should never come out from Ntate Thabane”.

“Even if the King is young in terms of age, the fact of the matter is that he is our King – a father to all of us. Ntate Thabane should either respect the King or go back abroad where there is no King”.

Dr Mosisili also accused Dr Thabane of “threatening” King Letsie III “by suggesting that King Letsie III could be removed from office of the head of state”.

“I listened attentively as Ntate Thabane said ‘Morena Mohato (King Letsie III first name) should know that he could be removed from the office even though he was not suggesting that now. Ntate Thabane allowed himself to be carried away by his anger in a manner embarrassing for a man of his stature.

“Probably Ntate Thabane thinks we are still living in the past age where around 1970 the constitution was suspended and King Moshoeshoe II was forced to flee the country and found refuge in Holland. This also happened during the military rule, where Ntate Thabane was secretary of the military council, in 1990 when King Moshoeshoe II was again forced out of the country and taken to England.

“It should come into the mind of Ntate Thabane that times have now changed. As Basotho today, we cannot allow anyone anywhere to play games in the name of the King, especially if they are pseudo politicians who are confused.”

Dr Mosisili also dismissed claims on social media that His Majesty was forced at gunpoint to sign legal documents dissolving the Ninth Parliament and call for elections.

“There’s absolutely nothing like that. The fact of the matter is that the King has exercised his constitutional right in line with provisions of the Constitution of Lesotho and the electoral law,” Dr Mosisili said.

In relation to dissolution of parliament, Dr Mosisili argued that King Letsie III acted on his advice in line with section 83(1) and (4) (b). And in relation to announcing the election date, he said the King acted on the advice of the Council of State in line with section 37(1) of the National Assembly Elections Act of 2011.

Section 83 (1) of the constitution states that “The King may at any time prorogue or dissolve Parliament” and Section 83 (4) (b) states that “In the exercise of his powers to dissolve or prorogue Parliament, the King shall act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister: provided that   if the National Assembly passes a resolution of no confidence in the Government of Lesotho and the Prime Minister does not within three days thereafter either resign or advise a dissolution the King may, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, dissolve Parliament”.

However, ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela dismissed Dr Mosisili’s statement was “a sign of last kicks of a dying horse, desperate to remain in power.”

Mr Mapesela said Dr Mosisili should refrain from canvassing for his party ahead of the elections “using the King’s name to get sympathy votes”.

He said Dr Thabane had not insulted King Letsie III.

“Ntate Mosisili should rather focus on doing the right things during his dying tenure in government than to start canvassing in the name of the King,” Mr Mapesela said in an interview with the Lesotho Times last night.

“He should start arresting soldiers that were implicated in the killings of their former commander, General Maaparankoe Mahao, Sub-Inspector Ramahloko and many others. He should start cleaning his own house by dismissing cabinet ministers involved in the corruption involving Bidvest, Mothae mine and others. He should stop using government resources for DC campaigns.”

Meanwhile, Dr Mosisili also accused unnamed people of spreading false allegations that government was on the verge of collapse, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had no money to prepare for the elections and that civil servants would not receive their salaries on 1 April 2017.

“There is no truth in all of these unfortunate allegations. And the people who are saying all these things know the truth but they are making the allegations to intentionally mislead the unsuspecting nation for political reasons,” he said.

Dr Mosisili said in terms of section 18 of the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act of 2011, “if it appears to the minister that an appropriation act for any financial year will not come into operation by the beginning of the financial year, the minister may approve withdrawals from the consolidated fund in accordance with section 113 of the constitution.

“Further, the fact of the matter, which is also known to these distractors, is that the coming elections are the third in Lesotho to be held without a budget estimates having been passed. This was the case even in the recent 2015 snap elections. The budget was later passed by the Ninth Parliament in June 2015,” Dr Mosisili said.

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