ABC youths demand Letsoepa’s ouster

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ABC Youth league’s president Taelo Ntsokotsane,right, with ABC Youth league’s spokesperson Mphonyane Lebesa

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE All Basotho Convention Youth League (ABCYL) has accused Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa of pandering to the dictates of the government, saying he should leave office and join full-time politics.

ABCYL President Taelo Ntsokotsane has said the “ambushing” of party leader Thomas Thabane and seizing of his security detail’s guns during a joint army and police operation last Saturday was ample evidence that the top cop was serving partisan interests.

Dr Thabane’s guards were disarmed while the former premier and his entourage were on their way to a campaign rally in Qacha’s Nek.

The ABC leader and retired Major-General Sam Makoro, who was part of the entourage, have accused the army and police of mounting an ambush and not a roadblock because of the large number of armed officers at the scene. (Also see Big Interview on Page 10).

However, the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has since issued a statement underscoring the routine nature of the joint army and police operation, saying similar operations were being undertaken across the country to confiscate illegal weapons.

LMPS spokesperson, Superintendent Clifford Molefe, yesterday told the Lesotho Times weapons were impounded during the operation on suspicion they were used in violation of gun control laws.

He said the joint army and police operation was above board, with investigations into last Saturday’s incident still ongoing.

However, the ABC youths directed their ire at Commissioner Letsoepa during a press conference held yesterday, demanding that he resign for “being a politician in uniform”.

Mr Ntsokotsane said they were nefarious intentions behind the joint army and police operation since Dr Thabane’s bodyguards had been summoned to Police Headquarters in Maseru over the same guns on Wednesday last week.

“The disarming of our leader’s bodyguards is very worrisome because on Wednesday last week they had been called to Police Headquarters to have the licenses of their guns checked and they were cleared,” he said.

“In light of this clear harassment of our leader, we call upon the commissioner to take off his uniform and come join us in politics to give the police force the dignity it deserves.”

The ABCYL also accused Commissioner Letsoepa of participating in the corrupt enlisting of 250 police recruits from members of the seven governing parties in the LMPS at the expense of thousands of applicants.

This was alleged by Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki, who claimed that such acts of corruption prompted him to dump the Democratic Congress (DC) last November of which he was deputy leader.

Mr Moleleki was once Police minister in the government whose other partners include the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Lesotho People’s Congress, Popular Front for Democracy, Basotho Congress Party, National Independent Party and the Marematlou Freedom Party.

“Of the over 22 000 Basotho youths who applied for jobs, only 250 who were politically-connected were hired. It is against this background that we are calling upon the commissioner to resign,” said Mr Ntsokotsane.

He also expressed surprise with the continued appointments by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of diplomats and other senior civil servants.

“We were quite surprised to learn that Prime Minister Mosisili and his government are still busy appointing some people to the embassies and reviewing some principal secretaries’ contracts which are due to end soon,” the ABCYL leader said without elaborating.

“The PM needs to bear in mind that he lost power in a parliamentary no-confidence motion and is a mere caretaker premier.”

Mr Ntsokotsane also laughed off the elections pact between the LCD and DC, saying the ABC was not losing sleep.

Under the pact, the DC will contest in 55 constituencies while the LCD was allocated 25 to avoid vote splitting.

“I urge ABC supporters not to lose sleep over the pact between the LCD and DC because they will not form government even if they join forces.”

The ABCYL also waded into the ongoing measles and rubella vaccine controversy, saying the government’s handling of the issue through the Ministry of Health was “disheartening”.

The countrywide vaccination campaign, which ran from 13 to 24 February 2017, has resulted in a huge public outcry after many children experienced a host of side effects such as rashes and diarrhea. Four children have reportedly died from the side effects, although no post mortem has so far confirmed the cause of death.

“The measles and rubella vaccine issue is very unfortunate and we expected the government, civil society organisations and the National University of Lesotho to investigate this matter,” he said.

“The issue is very disheartening and we would like to pass our condolences to families who lost their children and wish those admitted at medical facilities a speedy recovery.”

Efforts to contact Commissioner Letsoepa were fruitless at the time of going to print.

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