A look back at 2016
MUCH like the year before, 2016 was very eventful in the history of the Mountain Kingdom. The year started off with the government declaring it would not implement all of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry recommendations, resulting in Lesotho facing suspension by the regional bloc.
However, after relenting on the initial stance, Lesotho implemented some of the reforms, chief among them being retiring army commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli. On the political party front, a long drawn out turf war between Democratic Congress leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his erstwhile deputy Monyane Moleleki culminated in a split which has had seismic implications for the stability of the government in 2017.
The Lesotho Times chronicles some of the major highlights of the year.
Govt moves to impeach Mosito
THE government launches a feisty bid to have Court of Appeal President Justice Kananelo Mosito impeached from office after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili selected three South African judges to constitute a tribunal to consider removing the judge him from his post.
The seeds of the Court of Appeal president’s impeachment were originally sown on 21 August 2015 when Director of Public Prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane (King’s Counsel), raised criminal charges against Justice Mosito for allegedly not paying taxes for his legal firm from 1996 to 2014.
Justice Mosito is charged with violating provisions of the Income Tax Act of 1993, and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act of 1981. According to the charges, Justice Mosito never registered with the tax authorities as required by the law and only did so on 20 April 2015.
Mosisili defiant over SADC report
A DEFIANT Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says the Lesotho government would not be frog-marched into implementing all of the Phumaphi Commission’s recommendations as these were not legally binding.
This followed an unprecedented ultimatum from SADC for the Lesotho government to publish the Phumaphi Commission report and implement its recommendations.
The Commission of Inquiry was requested by Dr Mosisili to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao, who was shot dead by his military colleagues on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru. Justice Phumaphi and his 10-member team conducted their probe between 31 August and 23 October. The commission submitted its report to the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in December 2015.
Mahao’s wife vows to ‘uncover the truth’
‘Mamphanya Mahao — the wife of slain former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao— vows to “never rest” until she knows “the truth” behind her husband’s killing.
SADC calls for Kamoli’s dismissal
THE long awaited SADC Commission of Inquiry report into Lesotho’s instability calls for the dismissal of Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli as Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, describing the conduct of the LDF under his command as “disconcerting”.
Firing Lt-Gen Kamoli would restore credibility and trust of the army by the generality of Basotho, the report concludes.
However, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili digs in, reiterating that the inquiry’s recommendations were not binding. Dr Mosisili says the government would pick and choose the recommendations it would implement after studying the report.
Hashatsi loses court challenge
Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Special Forces commander Tefo Hashatsi loses a court bid to have the SADC inquiry into the death of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao declared illegal.
Lt-Col Hashatsi had filed an urgent application on 16 October 2015 before the High Court challenging the commission’s legitimacy and arguing that it had violated terms of its formation by hearing evidence in South Africa while it was established by a Lesotho law.
Top lawyer’s house attacked
ADVOCATE Khotso Nthontho’s Masowe 1 house is attacked by unknown assailants who pummeled the dwelling with stones and also smashed his BMW vehicle.
The attack coincided with the lawyer’s arrest on allegations of perjury ostensibly while representing detained soldiers accused of mutiny.
Advocate Nthontho is among the lawyers representing LDF members accused of hatching a mutiny plot against the army command.
Court of Appeal President Justice Kananelo Mosito is suspended with effect from 12 February 2016, paving the way for his impeachment proceedings by the government to commence.
The suspension is meant to allow investigations into allegations that he did not pay income tax between 1996 and 2014.
EU suspends budget support
THE European Union (EU) decides not to disburse 26.85 million euros (about
M460.65 million) meant to support Lesotho’s national budget.
The bloc states that the decision was taken “after carefully assessing Lesotho’s compliance with the conditions for payment, leading to the conclusion that insufficient progress has been made in the implementation of the agreed policy reforms, especially in the area of Public Financial Management.”
Govt meets exiled opposition leaders
THEN Foreign Affairs Minister Tlohang Sekhamane and his Home Affairs counterpart Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane meet with the leadership of the opposition alliance in Modderpoort, South Africa to discuss the return of opposition leaders living in exile in South Africa.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, and his Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) counterparts Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo , fled to South Africa in May 2015 claiming their lives were in danger.
America sets terms for new aid
THE Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the agency through which the United States has channeled more than US$10 billion in aid to developing countries to reduce poverty, asks Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government to explain “concrete, demonstrable actions” it plans to take to foster the “rule of law and accountability” in the Kingdom before the MCC makes a decision next week on Lesotho’s eligibility for new funding.
SADC ratchets pressure on govt
SADC maintains a tough line on the government and demanding the implementation of “each” of the recommendations in Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi’s report into Lesotho’s instability “with immediate effect” as well as a progress report.
SADC’s demands are contained in a letter written by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
Storm over govt fleet tender
One of the companies which failed to qualify for government’s fleet tender has threatened legal action should the Ministry of Finance proceed to announce the winner.
Chebelopele Fleetdata Consortium claims it was unfairly treated when the tender panel dismissed its bid for the multimillion-maloti tender last month and has since demanded that the evaluation process be stopped while its allegations of bias are being investigated.
Basotho defiant over MMM
BASOTHO subscribers of MMM Global continue to invest in the Ponzi scheme despite the weekend collapse Republic of Bitcoin — one of the pyramid schemes operated by MMM Global founder and convicted Russian fraudster Sergey Mavrodi.
MMM Global has taken Lesotho by storm with thousands of Basotho from all walks of life investing in the scheme which offers 30 percent returns per month on “deposits” or donations.
Kamoli here to stay: LCD
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) declares no amount of pressure would force the government to fire Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli.
Party spokesperson Teboho Sekata tells a news conference in Maseru that Lt-Gen Kamoli would remain head of the military until Lesotho goes to the polls in 2020 and that exiled opposition leaders might have to stay in South Africa for the next four years if the commander’s removal is a condition for their return.
African Union blasts Lesotho
THE Africa Union (AU) has, in an uncharacteristic move, expressed outrage over what it describes as “the breakdown in the rule of law” in Lesotho.
However, the seven-party coalition government also hit back at the continental body, accusing it of undue interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs.
The AU’s statement is seen as adding more pressure on the coalition government in light of similar pronouncements from SADC and international development partners including the European Union and the United States government.
Leaked recording rattles govt
A LEAKED audio clip has surfaced in which LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata makes disparaging remarks about Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki.
In the leaked recording, Mr Sekata alleges the infighting in the DC had intensified to the extent that Mr Moleleki held several secret meetings, popularly known as ‘linakeli’, with former premier and All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane in Durban, South Africa to iron out an agreement for an alliance to oust the current seven-party coalition government.
Mr Sekata also claims there was a “high possibility” Dr Mosisili would defect back to the LCD if the factionalism in the DC continued.
Govt extends Bidvest contract
BIDVEST will continue providing government with fleet services until 2020 after its contract was extended by four years.
The South African firm was initially awarded the contract to supply government with vehicles and related services from 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016.
Exit strategy for Kamoli
THE government is negotiating terms of Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli’s exit from the
LDF as it comes to terms with the reality that his continued presence at the helm of the army, against the wishes of an important regional body and the international community at large, would not help Lesotho’s cause in the long run.
Concern over MPs’ security
MOSALEMANE No 19 constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Sam Rapapa has called on the National Assembly to provide legislators with security guards at their homes in light of the fatal shooting of the daughter-in-law of Lithoteng constituency MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse.
Addressing the National Assembly, Mr Rapapa says the government should offer MPs protection after Mr Moramotse’s 23-year-old daughter-in-law was shot dead on 22 June 2016 as she drove into her parents’ Lower Seoli residence.
Lesotho Times Editor shot
THE editor of the Lesotho Times and Sunday Express newspapers, Lloyd Mutungamiri is brutally shot at his home in Upper Thamae in the wee hours of 10 July in what appeared to be a well-orchestrated assassination attempt.
Reporter evacuated to safety
LESOTHO Times reporter, Keiso Mohloboli, who has quit her job and fled the country fearing for her life, has spoken for the first time about her ordeal which has forced her to leave her motherland.
Media Institute of Southern Africa – MISA Lesotho Director Tsebo Matšasa confirmed Ms Mohloboli’s evacuation from Lesotho to a place of safety in a media alert this week.
Ms Mohloboli’s departure follows the near fatal shooting of her editor Lloyd Mutungamiri on 10 July 2016 as he arrived home around midnight after finishing the Lesotho Times’ sister newspaper, the Sunday Express.
ABC MP flees to South Africa
ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) Member of Parliament for Maseru Constituency Number 32, Lesego Makgothi fled to South Africa after being warned of an alleged plot to kill him while another has gone into hiding citing similar fears.
DC youths blast Finance minister
IN an unprecedented move, the DC’s Youth League launch a scathing attack against the party’s own senior member Finance Minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla, accusing her of corruption for allegedly soliciting a M4 million bribe in the awarding of the highly lucrative tender to run the government’s vehicle fleet.
Civil society groups take parly to court
DEVELOPMENT for Peace Education (DPE) and Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) file an application before the High Court’s Constitutional Division challenging the legality of the Human Rights Commission Act No. 2 of 2016.
The civil society groups argue the decision by the Clerk of the National Assembly, King’s Counsel (KC) Fine Maema, to recall the Human Rights Commission Bill (2015) before it was passed or rejected by Senate was inconsistent with Lesotho’s Constitution.
Soldiers’ wives petition King Mswati III
SEVEN wives of detained and exiled LDF members lobby incoming
SADC chairman King Mswati III to intervene in the “suffering” of their husbands at the hands of the army command.
Led by ‘Mamphanya Mahao — the wife of slain former army commander
Maaparankoe Mahao — the wives made the plea on Friday during the SADC People’s Summit in Manzini, Swaziland.
DC youth league leaders flee
SEVERAL leaders of the DC youth league, who have alleged massive corruption in the handling of a lucrative government fleet contract, flee the country fearing for their lives.
Six directors of a local consortium, that claims to have been recommended for the tender during an evaluation process, but was eventually not awarded the project, after allegedly refusing to pay a M4 million bribe to Finance Minister Dr ‘Mamphono Khaketla via her proxy, have also fled to South Africa.
1 September 2016
AU seeks answers over rights abuses
THE African Union (AU) requests the government of Lesotho to explain the steps it was taking to promote and protect human rights in the Kingdom but the government does not respond despite an explicit request by the continental body’s human rights organ for a “prompt response”.
The AU’s African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili shortly after the arrests, interrogation and charging of Lesotho Times journalists and the near fatal shooting of editor Lloyd
Mutungamiri in July with a specific request for “favourable attention (of the letter) and prompt response”.
Bidvest contract revealed
CONTRARY to claims that the government would from the onset buy and own half of its 1 200 vehicle fleet under its new vehicle management deal, it has in fact entered into a hire contract deal with Bidvest Bank Limited.
According to a contract the government entered with Bidvest Bank Limited, the South African financial institution would provide “possession, use and enjoyment of the vehicles for the contract period” with the government only having the option to buy the vehicles at the end of its contract.
Govt seizes IEC funds to pay Bidvest
GOVERNMENT seizes M54 million from the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) budget for local government elections to fund its highly contentious fleet services contract with Bidvest Bank Limited.
Govt writes-off loans for MPs
THE government writes-off the M32 million members of the Eighth Parliament owed when their term of office prematurely ended in March last year.
The legislators qualified for M500 000 interest-free loans from First National Bank
(FNB) as part of their benefits, and were supposed to repay the money over five years. The government underwrote the loans and also paid interest on behalf of the MPs.
Thabane, Moleleki pact stalls
A MOOTED coalition pact between Thomas Thabane and Monyane Moleleki stalled over a disagreement about who between them becomes prime minister if the two political veterans join forces to oust current premier Pakalitha Mosisili.
Top cop flees
Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Senior Superintendent Khoabane Mpepe, who is the LMPS’s head of planning at the Police Headquarters in Maseru, skips the country claiming his life is in danger after being accused of conspiring to topple Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa.
Plot to oust DC NEC, youths thickens
WITH factionalism continuing to wreak havoc in the main governing coalition partner, Democratic Congress (DC), party officials aligned to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili have been linked with a plot to oust the National Executive Committee (NEC) and youth league.
Blanket amnesty law on the cards
THE seven-party coalition government is working on a bill to grant members of the security sector a blanket amnesty for offences committed between January 2007 and December 2015.
Mahaos ‘cautiously welcome’ Kamoli exit
THE family of slain army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao cautiously welcomes news that Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli would be retired on 1 December 2016, saying it was merely the first step in a long journey towards granting them justice.
Endgame in DC feud
THE Democratic Congress’s (DC) National Executive Committee
(NEC) orders Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and other party members to move to the National Assembly’s cross bench signifying withdrawal from the coalition government tomorrow or automatically cease to be members of the party.
The NEC has also instructed DC ministers yet to resign from government to do so “with immediate effect” failing which they would “effectively fire themselves” from the party.
However, DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo scoffs at the order, and also warns the party’s proportional representation members of parliament (MPs) of expulsion if they support the Lirurubele faction’s withdrawal from the coalition government.
Opposition MPs face expulsion
THE tripartite opposition bloc accuses National Assembly Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai of doing the government’s bidding in asking 13 Members of Parliament (MPs) to show cause why they should not be expelled from the august house for alleged absenteeism without her permission.
The bloc, which consists of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National
Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), says the timing of the move is suspect and ultimately meant to reduce the number of opposition MPs in the event of a no-confidence motion on the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led government.
Anger over parly closure
National Assembly Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai’s indefinite adjournment of parliamentary sittings on Tuesday ignited the ire of opposition legislators who said the move was a strategy to dodge a proposed no-confidence motion against the coalition government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Moleleki, Thabane agree on pact
All Basotho Convention (ABC) boss Thomas Thabane and Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyake Moleleki agree on a coalition arrangement to oust Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Metsing warns Moleleki, Thabane
Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing has warns Monyane Moleleki and Thomas Thabane to stop telling “fairytales that will never turn into reality” about a change of government lest they face the wrath of the law.
DC leagues defect to Moleleki
THE Democratic Congress (DC) effectively splits after the party’s women’s and youth leagues defect to former deputy leader Monyane Moleleki, who also jumped ship this week and formed a new political party.
EU warns Lesotho on aid.
The European Union (EU) warned Lesotho risked forfeiting more development partner support due to the “slow progress” in the implementation of public finance and governance reforms.
The 28-country bloc also expressed concern over the Amnesty Bill, 2016 meant to grant members of the security sector a blanket amnesty for offences committed between January 2007 and December 2015, saying it promoted impunity which would stymie donor support.
America sets terms for AGOA eligibility
LESOTHO will need to “take concrete steps” in addressing the United
States’ governance benchmarks in the fi rst quarter of 2017 to safeguard its eligibility for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act
(AGOA) for the full calendar year.
The Americans say Lesotho was deemed eligible for AGOA in 2017 to give the
Mountain Kingdom more time to meet the benchmarks which include implementation of the SADC Commission of Inquiry recommendations, security sector reforms and facilitating an amnesty for the detained mutiny suspects.