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‘I’m not ashamed of my relationship with British tycoon Banks’

by Lesotho Times
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

COMMUNICATIONS minister and Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele Maseribane has boasted about his relationship with controversial British tycoon Arron Banks and called him a “ladies’ man”.

Chief Maseribane told his party supporters at a rally in Kolo in the Mafeteng district on Sunday that he was not ashamed about his relationship with Mr Banks because he was an investor.

He also said Mr Banks was scheduled to come to the country “very soon”.

Mr Banks has in recent months come under serious criticism in his home country for allegedly bribing government officials in Lesotho to secure a diamond prospecting licence.

In July this year Chief Maseribane was forced to defend himself after British media prodded him over more than M1 million that was transferred to his personal account held with a South African Bank in 2013 and 2014.

The BBC queried why the funds were transferred to Chief Maseribane’s personal account and he said he enjoyed a good friendship with Mr Banks.

The BBC report also said Mr Banks also paid Chief Maseribane’s rentals while he was in exile in South Africa.

While both Mr Banks and Chief Maseribane confirmed the transactions, they refuted that the money was meant to influence the government into granting him a diamond prospecting licence in 2014. The BBC also said Mr Banks refuted Dr Thabane’s claims that he funded the latter.

Mr Banks is popularly known for bankrolling Britain’s exit from the European Union which has now been coined “Brexit”.

Previous reports have linked him with Chief Maseribane’s Basotho National party (BNP) whose campaigns he has previously funded to a reported £350 000 in 2012.

The BBC report indicates that while he was applying for a diamond prospecting licence in 2013 and 2014, Mr Banks transferred £65 000 (about M1 162 192) into Chief Maseribane’s personal bank account.

Part of the money, £16 000 was transferred a few weeks before his prospecting licence was granted.

At the time that the transactions were made, Chief Maseribane was Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation.

Mr Banks transferred £16 000 to Chief Maseribane just weeks before his prospecting was granted in 2014.

And on Sunday Chief Maseribane said he is not “ashamed of anything because he (Mr Bank) is an investor and for your information, he is coming to Lesotho very soon”.

He also described Mr Banks as “the ladies’ man” and told his supporters to get “ready to chow his money more”.

“He is bringing in more money. The ladies’ man is coming and you should ready yourself to chow his money more,” Chief Maseribane said.

Chief Maseribane also begged famo factions which have been blamed for the incessant killings around the country to ceasefire and said the government may be forced to involve the army and the police to restore peace.

Chief Maseribane literally knelt down and begged the famo gangs which have been notorious for deadly clashes in the districts of Lesotho.

“All that we are asking from you our fellow men in blankets is peace. We appeal to you to stop killing one another, stop killing women and children. Ours is to go to all villages as the BNP and ask for peace.

“You cannot continue killing each other like flies. Sometimes as a leader, one feels the need to go on their knees and beg for peace if that is what it takes.

“All those of you who are shooting one another have to stop. Enough is enough. We want peace and we want to bring to your attention that we have the army and the police to restore order,” Chief Maseribane.

He also appealed to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing to return to the country and participate in the national reforms process. The country has embarked onto a national reforms process as advised by the Southern African Development Community in 2016.

The reforms were recommended in the aftermath of the report by the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led 10-member Commission of Inquiry that was appointed by SADC in July 2015 to investigate the killing of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, by his army colleagues.

Chief Maseribane said he said Mr Metsing to come home and make peace.

“I have asked him to come home and all our discussions will remain confidential. I am calling upon to you my brother (Mr Metsing) to come so that we may make peace. I asked Ntate Moseneke (retired deputy Chief Justice of South Africa) to meet with this person (Metsing) when he asked us to sign the letter of concessions, and I still ask the same even now,” Chief Maseribane said.

Chief Maseribane also called on the teachers who have been agitating for salary increases since the beginning of the new term in August to “come and have talks with the government instead of embarking on a strike”.

“Factory workers have been victorious in their fight because they engaged the government in talks.

“We therefore appeal to teachers to come to the table and have talks with us. This government is ready to hear you out and we urge you to do as the factory workers did. We sat down with them and we can assure you that it will not even take us two weeks to resolve your issues if we work together,” Chief Maseribane said.

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