Army commander defies PS directive
ACTING Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Major General Khoantle Motsomotso, has defied Acting Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka’s directive to withdraw LDF personnel assigned to fired Communications, Science and Technology minister Selibe Mochoboroane.
Mr Mochoboroane was relieved of his ministerial duties by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on 16 October 2014 for alleged insubordination. The move followed lack of coverage of the premier’s activities by the state media, Radio Lesotho and Lesotho Television (LTV), allegedly at the now dismissed minister’s instigation.
However, Mr Mochoboroane has continued to perform the functions of a minister, emboldened by his principal and Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s rejection of the dismissal as he argued it was not agreed upon by the three parties in the coalition government.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane then filed an urgent application in the High Court on 7 November seeking an order to compel Mr Mochoboroane to vacate the ministerial post with the case deferred to 16 March 2015 by Justice Teboho Moiloa.
Mr Mochoboroane’s salary and benefits have allegedly since been suspended “pending a court outcome to determine his legal status” although the deputy LCD spokesperson vehemently denied it. In an interview with the Lesotho Times’ sister publication, Sunday Express Mr Mochoboroane said: “All I can say is I received my full minister’s salary this month.”
However, in a letter dated 28 November, Acting Government Secretary (GS), Moahloli Mphaka, wrote to the Principal Secretary (PS) of Defence and National Security, Thato Mohasoa, requesting the latter advise Major General Motsomotso to release LDF personnel assigned to Mr Mochoboroane, as part of his ministerial benefits, since he was relieved of his duties.
“Please be advised that Honourable Selibe Mochoboroane has been relieved of his duty as a Minister of Government of Lesotho, effective from 16 October, 2014,” wrote Mr Mphaka.
“You are requested to advise accordingly the Acting Commander of the LDF to withdraw the members of LDF personnel who were assigned to him when he was the Cabinet Minister.”
Contacted for comment, Mr Mohasoa acknowledged receipt of the correspondence.
“Much as I am out of the country today, I received the letter from the GS last week Friday and informed the Acting Commander on the requested advised even though l don’t have the response,” Mr Mohasoa said.
However, in a stinging response to the letter sent on Tuesday, Major General Motšomotšo retorted that Mr Mphaka “does not have locus standi to address any matters relating to security issues within the Defence Force”.
The letter is also copied to the coalition government leaders, namely, Dr Thabane in his capacity as premier and Defence, National Security minister, Mr Metsing as deputy premier and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane.
“In terms of our law, Lesotho Defence Force Act No4 of 1996 in particular section 12 (4) thereof, the Commander of the Defence force is obliged to account to the Author (Mr Mphaka) exclusively for inter alia… the efficient and economic use of funds and assets of the Defence Force…,” read the response.
Major General Motšomotšo goes on to argue Mr Mochoboroane’s personal detail is beyond Mr Mphaka’s purview not least because the matter is before the courts.
“The matters surrounding the legal Notice No. 83 of 2014 about the ‘Removal of a Minister Notice, 2014’ is currently pending hearing before the High Court of Lesotho in the matter between The Prime Minister of Lesotho & 2 Others v Selibe Mochoboroane CIV /APN/468/2014. Thus, the principle of sub-judice must be observed.”
While asserting that the LDF remains subject to the “civil authority”, Major General Motšomotšo citestherefore invites all the stakeholders to often check and balance their respective actions against the letter and the spirit of all relevant signed SADC Declarations especially Maseru Facilitation Declaration and Maseru Security Accord as well as against the fruitful and significant facilitation process undertaken by SADC Facilitator.”
Major General Motšomotšo clearly told Mr Mohasoa that the Command of LDF reassures its commitment to the Civil Authority and shall always remain intact for the lasting peace and stability of Lesotho but, however, the command of LDF would not take such as advice for Mr Mohasoa has no locus standi in addressing any matters relating to security issues within the Defence Force.
“The Command has read and clearly understood the contents of the letter together with the contents of all the attached documents thereto. The Command hereby provides the definitive and disallowing answer thereto as follows;
“The Author ( PS Defence and National Security, Mr Mohasoa) of the letter does not have locus standi to address any matters relating to security issues within the Defence Force. Major General said in a letter addressed to Mr Mohasoa.
The LDF act clearly stipulates that the Commander of the Defence Force account to the PS Defence and National Security only on matters relating to the efficient and economic use of funds and assets of the Defence Force.
The deputy Commander continued that the matter relating to the fired minister Mr Mochoboroane under the high court and awaiting for judicial determination and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere.
Major Genral Motšomotšo’s letter read;
His letter Major General Motšomotšo said; “In the light of the given irrefutable facts, the Command of LDF reiterates its commitment to be subject to the Civil Authority. The Command is further committed to act within its scope of mandate in line with the ruling of His Lordshio Chief Justice Cullinan (as he then was) in Rex v Sekhobe Letsie & 6 others 1991-1996 LLR 1041 at 1113. The Command, therefore invites all the stakeholders to often check and balance their respective actions against the letter and the spirit of all relevant signed SADC Declarations especially Maseru Facilitation Declaration and Maseru Security Accord as well as against the fruitful and significant facilitation process undertaken by SADC Facilitator.”
This letter which the Major Genral Motšomotšo rejects the PS Defence and National Security, Mr Mohasoa, the Lesotho Times had learned that it had being copied to the Right Honourable Prime Minster in his capacity as the minister of defence, national security and police and as a partner to the coalition government, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister in capacity as the partner to the Coalition Government, the honourable Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation in a capacity as the partner to the coalition government as well as His Excellency Head SOMILES C/O SADC Facilitator.
The Lesotho Times contacted the Acting Government Secretary, Mr Mphaka yesterday who confirmed knowledge of the contents of the letter to PS Defence and National Security but said he would not take about that letter for it was not addressed to the Lesotho Times.
Several attempts to contact the LDF public relations office especial the spokesperson of the LDF Major Ntlele Ntoi had being fruitless till the paper went to print today.