Home NewsLocal News “I am prepared to die for democracy” – Mokhothu

“I am prepared to die for democracy” – Mokhothu

by Lesotho Times
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…as his bodyguards get withdrawn again

Mohloai Mpesi

Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, says the latest withdrawal of his bodyguards by the army will not deter him from fighting for democratic governance in Lesotho.

Mr Mokhothu, who is also the Official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, said even though he was still expecting to be provided with army bodyguards as per his constitutional rights, he was now scared they would “sell him out” because of the way he was being treated by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

Mr Mokhothu nonetheless emphasized he was not afraid to die for a “clean and democratic Lesotho” despite the ill-treatment he said was being meted out against him by Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition.

Mr Mokhothu said his military bodyguards were withdrawn last Friday, the second time this had happened after they were originally withdrawn before being reinstated in December 2023.

Both the government and the army have nonetheless denied the latest withdrawal.

Our news crew visited Mr Mokhothu’s official residence in Maseru West yesterday and only found a man dressed in ordinary overalls at the gate. There were no soldiers on the premises.

However, LDF Spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, told the Lesotho Times that, to his knowledge, Mr Mokhothu was still in the “company of soldiers assigned to protect him at all times”.

“The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly has bodyguards who will protect him all the time…..

“Those soldiers are under the control and leadership of the LDF under the CIP Protection Battalion Headquarters,” Lt-Col Lekola said.

The Prime Minister’s Press Attache, Thapelo Mabote, said in as much as the army was under the leadership of Prime Minister Matekane, who also doubles as the Minister of Defence, there was no way that the premier could have issued an order to withdraw the soldiers.

“It is highly impossible that the Prime Minister could issue such an order for the soldiers protecting Mr Mokhothu to be withdrawn. He may be the Minister of Defence, but he does not have the powers to give orders or interfere in the army operations,” Mr Mabote said.

Nonetheless, Mr Mokhothu, said the withdrawal was an easily verifiable fact.

He complained that he continued to be subjected to unfair treatment by the army which first withdrew his bodyguards in early December 2023 before reinstating them.

Mr Mokhothu said, prior to the latest withdrawal of his security team, he had scheduled an appointment with LDF Commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, to discuss his grievances.

However, he said when the meeting was due to take place last Friday, he was suddenly told that Lt-Gen Letsoela was attending a funeral in Matatiele, South Africa, and would no longer be available. The military guards were subsequently withdrawn.

“They arrived (at my house) with a soldier and told me that he was going to replace another one (bodyguard) who was with me,” Mr Mokhothu said.

“I told them that we had pending discussions with their manager in the CIP, so they should not leave that soldier until we have finalised our discussions about certain things that I have concerns about.

“They then left, but returned 10 minutes later. They said they had been ordered to take all the soldiers guarding at my house. I asked for an explanation and their response was simply that they did not have powers to challenge the LDF command orders, and only their superiors could answer my questions. They then left with the bodyguards,” he said.

Mr Mokhothu said even though he was expecting protection from the LDF, he was now afraid they posed a threat to his life, based on their conduct towards him.

“I am worried if they will not sell me out..,” he said of the military guards should they be reinstated again.

Mr Mokhothu said he had worked with soldiers for nine years since 2015 under the command of now incarcerated former army commander, Tlali Kamoli, and subsequently Lt-Gen Letsoela but had never experienced the problems he was now confronted with.

He said his current problems were a result of the no confidence motion against Mr Matekane that he could have easily won in the National Assembly had it proceeded on 16 October 2023. The vote on the no confidence motion – which he seemed set to win – after 61 MPs had supported it – was deferred after a last-minute court challenge.

Lt-Gen Letsoela and his national security agencies counterparts; Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli and National Security Services (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane subsequently declared they would not allow Mr Matekane to be toppled. They instead implored MPs to concentrate on the business of passing the national reforms.

“My problems started after instigating the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister and after voicing opposition to the statement by the heads of the security agencies….” Mr Mokhothu said.

“After the LDF made a statement that they would find it difficult to transfer the national flag to me if I become Prime Minister, all these problems began…

“I will not however give up on doing what is right. My blood can be shed in my fight for democratic governance if need be. I don’t care…”

Mr Mokhothu also claimed that DC founder and former Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, had almost suffered the same fate as him as his army bodyguard was questioned about his movements.

“A soldier assigned to Mr Mosisili was questioned why he did not report that Mr Mosisili was going to meet with Mr (Thomas) Thabane and Mr (Monyane) Moleleki for lunch.

“When I reprimanded that, they (LDF) opted to respond to me via their (soldiers) parade. Are we now being governed by the security sector….Why did they not let the Prime Minister or his deputy respond to me….?”

 

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