MASERU — The Lesotho Political Parties Leadership Forum yesterday alleged there is a “hit squad” that had been assigned to kill prominent people ahead of the May 26 election.
In a statement opposition leaders said they had heard rumours that the hit squad had been assigned to get rid of those “who are threatening the comfort and safety of some leaders”.
But Ralechate ‘Mokose, the secretary general of the Democratic Congress, last night dismissed the opposition charge as an attempt to frustrate the electoral process and push for a government of national unity.
The forum, which is a grouping of opposition party leaders that seeks to advance opposition interests, condemned what it called “seemingly intentional murders” of politicians and prominent figures in Lesotho in recent years.
The forum said it was shocked and disturbed by the killings which have happened over the years under Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s leadership.
The statement comes a week after ABC deputy chairman, Sello Machakela, was shot and killed by armed gunmen at his home in Sekamaneng.
Machakela was killed amid rumours he was about to defect to Mosisili’s newly-formed DC party following a fallout with the ABC leadership.
The leaders said they feared that like others before him, Machakela’s murder would become yet another cold case.
The leaders said government ministers responsible for safety and security should have clarified matters following rumours about the “hit list”.
They added the government’s response was in sharp contrast to what happened after armed men attacked Mosisili and the military barracks on April 22, 2009.
“Mosisili’s government worked tirelessly day and night until it succeeded in arresting the perpetrators,” the leaders said.
They said they were still waiting to hear the status of police investigations into the killing of BNP deputy leader Bereng Sekhonyana.
Sekhonyana was shot and killed in 2003 as he entered the gate of his Ha-Hoohlo residence.
Another prominent leader, Dominic Motikoe, of the NIP was shot and killed in 2009 outside his home.
Another NIP official and former MP, Ford Jobo, was also murdered and his killers were never brought to book.
The leaders also cited the attempted murder last month of ABC chairman, Molobeli Soulo.
Soulo, an MP of the ABC, was shot and wounded in the foot as he was about to enter his house.
“Investigations into these murders, which authorities are saying are being seriously conducted, have so far yielded nothing substantial,” the statement said.
A spokesman for the forum, Sello Maphalla, last night said they were concerned about their safety.
“We also want to avoid the possibility of disillusionment leading to voter apathy owing to fears of the polls by the electorate,” Maphalla said.
He said the fact that Mosisili had beefed up his security meant something sinister was going on.
Maphalla said they had written a letter to the Christian Council of Lesotho requesting it to facilitate a meeting between the government and the opposition “to assure us that all is well”.
The statement was signed by 13 opposition party leaders of the Lesotho Workers Party, Popular Front for Democracy, Basotho National Party and All Basotho Convention.
Marematlou Freedom Party, African Unity Movement, Basotho Batho Democratic Party and National Independent Party also signed the document.
‘Mokose said the opposition was trying to come up with reasons to suspend elections and establish a government of national unity because they knew their chances of making it into parliament were slim.
“The National Assembly Electoral Act 2011 does not provide for the two-vote system which enabled parties to easily secure PR seats. It’s not that easy anymore and they are frustrated,” ‘Mokose said.
‘Mokose said it was unfair to link the murder of Machakela with the DC because “he was one of us”.
“He even attended our last caucus after the adjournment of parliament. Even his ABC constituency of Malimong was about to join the DC. I have a letter addressed to my office as the secretary general,” ‘Mokose said.
“It’s a pity that some of the events that were supposed to have taken place were overtaken by Machakela’s untimely death.”
“How could Machakela be a threat to us when he was one of us? They are trying to hide their actions by portraying us as bad people. But that cannot happen in Lesotho.”