BASOTHO National Party (BNP) deputy leader, Joang Molapo, has condemned Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general, Tšeliso Mokhosi, for “tarnishing the image of our leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane”.
Mr Mokhosi last week told the Lesotho Times’ sister publication, the Sunday Express, that Chief ‘Maseribane should not be allowed to comment on government business due to his alleged misrepresentation of facts.
This was after the BNP leader, whose party formed a coalition government with the LCD and All Basotho Convention (ABC) in June 2012, had declared that Parliament would not re-open on 19 September as recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last week, unless the country’s security situation improved.
In the hard-hitting interview, Mr Mokhosi also told the Sunday Express that the re-opening of Parliament was no longer negotiable as the issue had already been settled when the three coalition government leaders—Prime Minister and All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, LCD leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Sports Minister Chief ‘Maseribane—endorsed a roadmap brokered by SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chairperson Jacob Zuma on Monday last week.
Following the interview, Home Affairs Minister Molapo, held a press conference on Monday this week, during which he accused Mr Mokhosi, who is also the Minister of Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs, of disrespecting the BNP leader.
“I feel disappointed that our disagreement has come to this point, where our leader’s reputation and integrity are being tarnished by his juniors in government. This is an unfounded assault of our leader’s character by Minister Mokhosi and we demand an apology from him as a person and officer of the LCD and from the party,” said Chief Molapo.
Chief Molapo said whatever disagreements the BNP had with Mr Metsing had never been publicly voiced in such a “disrespectful manner”.
“The BNP finds this sort of language, particularly when coming from a government minister, and senior LCD official, completely unacceptable. Minister Mokhosi is fully aware of the role Chief ‘Maseribane continues to play in Lesotho’s political affairs.
“Chief ‘Maseribane has always acted with integrity whenever he is dealing with the LCD. This public assault by minions of the LCD is indicative of an emerging trend within the party, where facts and the truth are becoming casualties of their political ambitions.
“Last week, as part of government, we called upon Mr Mokhosi and Selibe Mochoboroane (the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, who is also the LCD deputy spokesperson) to take it easy in their public statements. But only this morning, we were disappointed once again to find Mochoboroane parading himself as the government spokesperson and speaking on a subject that he clearly has no knowledge of or understanding.”
Chief Molapo further emphasised the need for politicians to be responsible “in this difficult time”, to ensure stability in Lesotho.
“We need those in positions of leadership to be calm and mature, but sadly, we see none of this in the perilous and infertile behaviour of these people. We can only hope that their actions have been noted by their superiors and that they will respond appropriately”.
Taking a direct swing at Mr Mochoboroane, Chief Molapo accused the minister of spreading falsehoods about the “rightful” commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
“We, as ministers, serve the interests of the prime minister, who is also the minister of defence, whom Mochoboroane is challenging on issues of the army.
“We are also bound by a collective responsibility, which is why ministers are not supposed to be taking government business to the streets. We should address whatever grievances we have within cabinet or approach the prime minister,” Chief Molapo said.
Chief Molapo also said although he is a member of the country’s Security Committee, he had no idea where Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli is. Lt Gen Kamoli was fired by Dr Thabane on 29 August this year for alleged insubordination, but has refused to vacate office, leaving the new commander, Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao, stranded.
“Mochoboroane is not even a member of the Security Committee but seems to have intimate relations with Kamoli and also to know his whereabouts.
“It is also wrong for Mochoboroane to say the King was ill-advised by the prime minister, when he signed the appointment of Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao as the new LDF commander. It is bad behaviour that can’t be tolerated.”
Contacted for comment, Mr Mochoboroane was equally combative in his response.
“Ntate Mokhosi didn’t do anything wrong because his statements about ‘Maseribane not telling the truth about Parliament’s re-opening and the whereabouts of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, are true. ‘Maseribane decided to peddle his own party’s propaganda on the whereabouts of the LDF Commander. He lied to the people about the issue and the army has since issued statements countering his allegations that Lieutenant General Kamoli had emptied the armoury and that his whereabouts were unknown.
“Molapo is the one who is actually out of order if he seeks to protect someone who makes unfounded statements,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
The minister also said as far the party was concerned, Lt Gen Kamoli was still the LDF commander.