End of the road for Mahao
…as Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili gives him ultimatum to give reasons why he should not be fired as army commander while acknowledging Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has written to Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao asking him to “show cause if any”, why he should not fire him as Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander.
According to a letter dated 20 April 2015 and signed by Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka, Lt Gen Mahao had seven days to respond “in writing” to the premier’s ultimatum, failure of which he would advise the King to “terminate your appointment and commission”.
In the letter, Dr Mosisili points out that Lt Gen Mahao’s promotion was illegal as the then prime minister, Thomas Thabane, had not followed due process, while also stating that Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli was the rightful army commander.
Mr Mphaka, who addresses Mr Mahao as Brigadier/Lieutenant General in the letter, notes that he had been “directed by the Right Honourable Prime Minister to raise the following concerns and give you the opportunity to respond” before chronicling a host of grievances, which all-but seal the 47-year-old’s fate in the LDF.
Mr Mphaka writes: “You will, no doubt, recall that during or about August 2014 (the exact date is unknown to the Right Honourable the Prime Minister), former Prime Minister Dr Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, advised His Majesty and on the basis thereof, Legal Notice No 64 of 2014, was published in the gazette, thereby “appointing” you Lieutenant General and Commander of the LDF. The effect of the said 2014 gazette was to repeal the LDF (appointment of Commander) Notice No 41 of 2012, thereby “terminating” Lieutenant General Tlali Kennedy Kamoli’s appointment as the Commander of the LDF.
“It has come to the attention of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister that in advising the termination of the appointment of Lt Gen Kamoli, the former Prime Minister had not followed the law, for he had, inter alia, not afforded Lt Gen Kamoli a hearing in terms of the law. Thus it is clear that the advice and subsequent “termination” of Lt Gen Kamoli’s appointment and commission as the Commander of the LDF, was undoubtedly a nullity, unlawful and of no legal force and effect.
“By the same token, it has come to the attention of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister further that when the former Prime Minister advised His Majesty to appoint you as the Commander of the LDF, he was well aware that you were not only facing charges before the Court Martial in respect of which the proceedings had not been disposed of, but that above all, you were on suspension.
“In accepting the “appointment” as the commander of LDF, you were also well aware of the unfinished Court Martial proceedings against you and the fact that you were on suspension in terms of the LDF Act 1996. In terms of the said Act, a suspended officer suffers disabilities mentioned therein, including prohibition from doing LDF work or carrying out duties in the LDF.”
Mr Mphaka also notes in the letter, that the LDF Act does not give any powers to the Minister of Defence to either dissolve a Court Martial or revoke a suspension imposed by the Commander of the LDF, adding: “As such, the then Prime Minister could not purport to do so. In fact, in his letter of 4 March 2014 to the Commander, he conceded as much and that therefore, the proceedings of the Court Martial must continue to finality (copy of the letter hereto attached).
“Now, in all the circumstances, I am directed by the Right Honourable the Prime Minister to write to you calling upon you to respond in writing and show cause (if any) why he should not advise His Majesty to terminate your “appointment and commission” as the commander of the LDF for reasons set out above, including the following:
- Your “appointment” was made whilst the Commander of the LDF, Lieutenant General Tlali Kennedy Kamoli’s appointment and commission as the Commander of the LDF, had not been lawfully terminated and he was therefore still the Commander.
- You still have pending disciplinary charges in the Court Martial which have not been completed and which were not completed when His Majesty was advised to appoint you as the Commander of the LDF.
- You are still on suspension and the said suspension was still extant when His Majesty was advised to commission you as Lieutenant General and appoint you as Commander of the LDF.
- You have, despite your “appointment” way back in August 2014, not assumed duty as the Commander of the LDF for various reasons.”
However, despite the ultimatum, the premier makes it clear in the letter that he does not view Lt Gen Mahao as LDF Commander, with Mr Mphaka noting: ‘It is the prima facie view of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister that your “appointment” was contrary to the provisions of inter alia Section 90 (4) of the LDF Act No. 4 of 1996. In terms of Section 21 of the LDF Act, it is not in the interest of the Lesotho Defence Force that you remain “appointed and commissioned” Commander of the LDF. It is also not in the public interest that you remain commissioned Commander of the LDF while you still have pending charges against you in the Court Martial and are, in any event, on suspension. It is the considered view of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister that in all honesty and without malice to you or anybody, it would not serve peace, stability and harmony of the country if you were now to proceed to occupy the office of Commander to which you have been unlawfully “appointed”.”
Lt Gen Mahao is then given the seven-day ultimate to justify why he should not be fired.
“You are to submit your written response within seven days of your receipt hereof, showing cause why the Right Honourable Prime Minister may not advise His Majesty to terminate your purported appointment and commission as the Commander of the LDF.
“It is advised that you make representations as your failure to do so will leave the Right Honourable the Prime Minister with no option but to proceed to so advise His Majesty”.
Contacted for comment, Lt Gen Mahao yesterday confirmed receiving the letter but said he was not in a position to discuss its contents.
On his part, Mr Mphaka confirmed issuing the letter to Mr Mahao, adding “ the way forward would be determined by Mr Mahao’s response”.