OUTGOING Democratic Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha Mosisili has sensationally claimed that the police have killed at least 23 civilians in the 18 months that it has been in power.
He also accused Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of abusing public funds by taking frequent international trips where he pays himself as much M1 million per trip.
The former prime minister made the claims while addressing party supporters at a rally early this week in Mount Moorosi in the Quthing district. However, his claims have been refuted by the Press Attaché in the Prime Minister’s Office, Thabo Thakalekoala. Mr Thakalekoala accused Dr Mosisili of poisoning his supporters of with falsehoods.
Dr Mosisili also slammed the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) for its alleged fixation with pressing criminal charges on Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing while turning a blind eye to the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane “who is busy lining his pockets” with tax payers’ money which he allegedly claimed as international travel expenses.
The Thabane administration replaced Dr Mosisili’s government in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 elections.
And Dr Mosisili charged that since its advent, the Thabane government has not only violated the rights of ordinary citizens but also failed to address the country’s economic challenges.
“I have heard the Prime Minister say that the government is bankrupt and I would like to tell you that he is lying…How could there be any money when the Prime Minister is busy lining his pockets with M1 million each time he takes an international trip.
“The DCEO is quiet but we are eagerly waiting to see how he will account for all that money. All that they are doing is busying themselves with chasing Metsing while turning a blind eye to what is currently happening (in the government).”
Dr Mosisili also claimed that at least 23 civilians had lost their lives at the hands of the police since the advent of the current government.
“This government has only been in power for 18 months but it has already claimed the lives of 23 civilians who died at the hands of the police. There could be more deaths.
“I blame the government because the police are only civil servants. The police were acting on orders which were given by the head of state (who) directed that those suspected of crimes should be beaten up.”
In a recent interview with this publication, the Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli, denied claims by the opposition that the police condoned acts of brutality against suspects.
“It is my responsibility to ensure that we keep a clean image of the police force. Our duty is to protect the people and not hurt them. We investigate cases where people are tortured while in police custody and take legal action on officers who are found on the wrong side of the law. There are several cases where officers have been brought before the court.
“Officers who are being investigated are transferred to other areas to move them from where they offended people while their cases are being addressed. It is not to protect such officers but to allow smooth processes.
“We are not quiet about this issue and I have been on radio to talk about police brutality which is of great concern to us,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
Dr Mosisili also cautioned the government against acts of revenge against its opponents, saying this only served to create a vicious cycle of retribution if power were to change hands in future.
“I would like to bring to the attention of this government that it should stop keeping records of those who wronged it.
“Otherwise this country shall never know peace…because tomorrow the congress parties might come to power and it won’t be a good feeling when they (the current government) are reminded of their own wrongs.
“Let me also remind you that government is in power to serve its people and not to hurt them.”
Dr Mosisili also took the opportunity to appeal to party members to desist from infighting ahead of the DC’s January conference which will elect a new leader. Dr Mosisili has announced that he is retiring and will not be seeking re-election.
“Today I am readying myself to retire and I urge you like Joseph from the bible once urged his brothers not to argue on the way home. I also plead that as you approach the elective conference, don’t argue on the way home.
“Stay faithful and true to the congress movement. In Lesotho politics, it’s either you are nationalist or congress supporter,” he said.
Contacted for comment the Press Attaché in the Prime Minister’s Office, Thabo Thakalekoala, described Dr Mosisili’s utterances as “sad” and unexpected of someone “who was once a prime minister and knew exactly how the administration is run”.
“There is simply no way a whole prime minister can line his pockets with these funds except that he (Dr Mosisili) wants to slander him (Dr Thabane).
“Whatever per diem is meant for the prime minister is given to the principal secretary for cabinet administration and this is done in alignment with the relevant regulations.
“There is no way the prime minister could have such money (M1 million) as per diem as this would be flouting the financial laws and regulations of this country. All the money he has ever laid his hands on has been accounted and signed for. Anything to the contrary would be madness of the first order.
“It is time that Ntate Mosisili stopped poisoning his followers with such utterances and he should stop playing petty politics.
“Since we are in the reforms process, we kindly plead with Ntate Mosisili to tell the truth and stop shaming Ntate Thabane over things he didn’t do.
“We need to embark on the reforms as one people and we should try as much as possible to shun negativity. If he still wants to be prime minister he should wait for elections and try his luck but he is still going to lose,” Mr Thakalekoala said.