FORMER Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has accused his successor, Thomas Thabane, of “destabilising” the country’s security agencies—a situation he describes as a “ticking time-bomb”.
Addressing thousands of Democratic Congress (DC) supporters who turned Ha Foso hill in Berea into a sea of red during the party’s final rally on Sunday, Dr Mosisili accused the premier of disrupting the good working relations between the security agencies.
Dr Mosisili said the Thabane-led coalition government’s failure to review the salary and rank structures of Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) officers, despite doing so for the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), had set a “ticking time-bomb” among the security agencies.
“This is one of the many reasons why Ntate Thabane should be punished heavily by being voted out of power on 28 February because he has disrupted the peace and stability of the security agencies in the two years he was in office by pitting these organisations against each other,” said Dr Mosisili to applause from the crowd.
“LCS staff have been on strike for two months now and are demanding a salary review but the government has remained silent; Thabane has ignored the issue and wants to leave this major problem to the incoming administration.”
The DC leader further said while the police requests were speedily attended to by the premier, those of the LCS were “kept secret” and ignored.
Dr Mosisili also accused the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader of prioritising the police at the expense of the LCS, Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and National Security Service (NSS) “thereby spreading suspicion and mistrust” between the agencies.
“This is the divide-and-rule strategy at its worst. Why should the police’s salaries be reviewed and those of the LDF, NSS and LCS ignored? This is why I say Ntate Thabane has left us a time-bomb.
“The LCS strike is now in its second month, yet government has done nothing about it. Now prisoners’ rights are being violated as they cannot go for their regular medical check-ups and are denied several other basic needs merely because the government does not want to address the officers’ salary demands.
“Human rights are being trampled on and the government is allowing it to continue.”
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Dr Mosisili also said due to the on-going industrial action in the prison service, inmates might be denied their right to vote on 28 February, alleging the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) staff had been denied entry to the country’s prisons.
“The IEC should deal with this matter urgently and address it,” he said.
The DC leader further said Dr Thabane’s “determination to destabilise” the security agencies also extended to the LMPS where, as Police minister, he was “hiring and firing commissioners willy-nilly”.
“This man has caused instability in the police service with his frequent hiring and firing of police officials,” Dr Mosisili said.
“Initially, he appointed Kizito Mhlakaza as commissioner, then Keketso Monaheng as acting commissioner. He later appointed Khothatso Tšooana commissioner and then we had Acting Commissioner Masupha Masupha who has since been replaced by Acting Commissioner Holomo Molibeli.
“Can we truly say all those men were wrong for the police or the problem lies with the old man? This is shocking! We should send this old man home.”
According to Dr Mosisili, the premier had “also tried the same approach” at the LDF by firing Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and replacing him with then Brigadier Maparankoe Mahao “yet Mahao was facing a court martial”.
Dr Mosisili further claimed due to the prime minister’s “disruptive decisions”, the army had to carry-out an operation at police stations on 30 August 2014, which resulted in the “unfortunate death” of Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko.
However, Dr Thabane has since described events of that fateful day as an attempted coup after he, and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane, were forced to flee Lesotho following a tip-off that their lives were in danger. In the same attack on the LMPS, nine police officers were also badly injured and an assortment of firearms seized by the army.
Dr Mosisili also accused the premier of “subverting the democratic system” that voted him into office by proroguing parliament for nine months on 10 June 2014.
“I am not saying the prorogation was illegal, but it should be understood that Ntate Thabane abused the prorogation clause and used it to escape a no-confidence motion in Parliament,” he said.
“When his party’s Koro-Koro and Stadium Area Members of Parliament, Ntate Thabiso Litšiba and Ntate Mophato Monyake, left his party and it was evident the coalition government had lost the simple majority it was governing with, he decided to suspend Parliament.”
The prorogation ended on 2 October 2014 after political party leaders agreed to the Southern African Development Community-brokered Maseru Facilitation Declaration which charted the roadmap to Saturday’s polls.
Contacted for comment about Dr Mosisili’s allegations, Dr Thabane’s spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, in turn accused the DC leader of “conniving with a clique of rabble-rousers” to delay the resolution of the LCS industrial action.
Mr Thakalekoala said although there had been “a few hiccups” in resolving the LCS officers’ grievances, Dr Thabane and Correctional Services Minister Motlohi Maliehe were committed to bringing an end to the impasse with negotiations still ongoing.
He also accused Dr Mosisili and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing of being “hell-bent on causing conflict in the country in their bid to control the security agencies”.
“Mosisili is trying to spread confusion in the LCS with the statements he is making,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
“The LCS issue is being addressed accordingly and what is worrying is that there are people in our coalition government who are trying to frustrate the process and cause trouble.”