… as Mosisili gets personal with Thabane calling him ‘an old man with wrinkles’
DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha Mosisili on Sunday maintained Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is a liability to the nation, and urged the electorate to ensure his party wins all the 80 constituencies in next month’s parliamentary elections “to get rid of him”.
Dr Mosisili, who was speaking at a campaign rally in Mohale’s Hoek, said by winning an outright majority, the DC would send a clear message to the veteran All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader that he had failed the nation during his short-lived premiership.
Lesotho holds an early election on 28 February after Dr Thabane’s coalition government comprising the ABC, Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which came to power in June 2012, could not last its full term due to persistent squabbling between the premier and his deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing.
After the DC won 41 constituencies in 2012, while the ABC, LCD, and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) clinched 26, 12, and one respectively, Dr Mosisili believes the collapse of the coalition government had “exposed Thabane’s leadership shortcomings”.
LCD leader Mr Metsing had continually clashed with Dr Thabane over his failure to consult him and the BNP’s Thesele ‘Maseribane when making key decisions, and after mediation efforts to end the feuding had failed, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) helped broker a roadmap that will see Basotho going to the polls next month, instead of the initial 2017.
“In 1993, the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), through which the Congress movement was born and where we all come from, won all the 65 constituencies which were then available. The DC should go for the same record and win all the 80 constituencies come 28 February,” Dr Mosisili told the rally.
The former premier, who was succeeded by Dr Thabane after the DC had failed to win the outright majority seats he needed to remain in power, told the heavily attended rally that the ABC leader “and his cronies” were “a failure dogged by all sorts of bad luck.”
“In just two years in power, these nationalists (referring to Dr Thabane and Chief ‘Maseribane) have destroyed the integrity of Lesotho as an independent country.
“Basotho’s confidence and hopes have been destroyed because of the bad luck that has been brought by Thabane,” Dr Mosisili said.
Referring to Dr Thabane as “Ntate Moholo Boy”, meaning ‘grandfather-cum-boy’, Dr Mosisili continued the onslaught: “Ntate Moholo Boy messed up the government, and brought shame to our country. And we, the DC, are now saying it is time we restore Lesotho’s dignity that was destroyed by Ntate Moholo Boy. By calling him Ntate Moholo Boy, I am not insulting him at all. I am calling him that because every time he is addressing the nation, he calls himself ‘This Boy’. He will be saying ‘This Boy this… This Boy that…’ But when I look at ‘This Boy’, I see an old man with wrinkles. That’s why I call him Ntate Moholo Boy,” said Mosisili, to thunderous applause from the crowd.
He continued: “So now we have to take the government from these nationalists and save the country. Whether it is the ABC or BNP, they are both the same; they are nationalists. And they destroyed the government that we handed over to them so peacefully.”
Dr Mosisili further said it was unacceptable that the premier was being guarded by South African police. Dr Thabane has been under foreign guard since 3 September 2014, when he returned from South Africa where he had sought refuge five days earlier to escape what he later claimed was an attempted coup by some members of the Lesotho Defence Force.
Dr Mosisili said: “Where, in the world, have you seen the prime minister being guarded by foreign security agents? That can only happen in this country under Thabane’s leadership. We now see South African dogs and police guarding him; he no longer trusts his own law-enforcement agencies. That, on its own, has destroyed the integrity of this country which we, of the Congress, had worked so hard to build during our 15-year stay in government.
“These upcoming elections are God’s way of saving this nation from these ‘Egyptians’ ruling Lesotho today. You can just imagine if these people were to rule until the next elections which had been scheduled for 2017! This country would be a mess. We should thank God for His intervention which led to the collapse of the coalition government led by Thabane and his cronies.
“When Thabane and his friends came to power, they found our government assisting Basotho by providing free primary education. We paid the fees on behalf of the parents. We had also reduced the fees in secondary and high schools. But when they came in, they changed the system and increased the fees because they don’t care about the nation.”
Judgment Day on which Dr Thabane “and his cronies” would meet their fate was 28 February, he added.
“Let us go in large numbers and vote to oust them forever.”
Dr Mosisili also accused the coalition government of issuing diplomatic passports to “undeserving foreigners of Indian origin”, in reference to passports issued to two members of the super-rich Gupta family last year. The passports were meant to facilitate the Guptas’ mandate to source investment abroad for Lesotho, according to the premier.
But according to Dr Mosisili, Lesotho diplomatic passports are only issued to His and Her Majesties, the prime minister and his spouse “but not his partner”.
“Ms Liabiloe Ramoholi (Dr Thabane’s wife renamed MaIsiah Thabane) who is his partner, should not be issued with a diplomatic passport. She is not his wife but a friend. It was also unlawful for Thabane’s son, Potlako, to be issued with a diplomatic passport,” he said.
Potlako, the Lesotho Times has learnt, had been issued with a diplomatic passport in August 2014 before it was withdrawn last month amid revelations it had been issued illegally.
Dr Mosisili claimed Dr Thabane had instructed the Home Affairs ministry to issue his son a diplomatic passport. “Having done this, Thabane deserves to be denied our votes come Judgment Day on 28 February.”
The DC leader further accused the premier of failing to explain how double murder suspect, Lehlohonolo Scott, escaped from the Maseru Central Prison three years ago.
Scott, who is accused of brutally killing and mutilating fellow Koalabata residents Moholobela Seetsa and Kamohelo Mohata in 2012 for ritual purposes, escaped from the high-security Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012, as he awaited trial. He was arrested in South Africa in April last year, and is appearing in the Durban North Magistrate’s Court where he is fighting extradition to Lesotho.
“Thabane owes the nation an explanation regarding Scott’s escape. We were told that he had used jelly to escape from jail. That statement is a lie that can only be believed by very young children. It is ironic that when Mr Mophato Monyake (former Correctional Service Minister) mentioned that he had finally arrested Scott, Thabane got angry and fired him from cabinet.”
The Lesotho Times repeatedly tried to get Dr Thabane’s response to Dr Mosisili’s attacks to no avail.