Mahao attacks Ramaphosa, SADC

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Pascalinah Kabi

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) nominee for the deputy leader position, Nqosa Mahao, has launched a blistering attack on current South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the then Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba for allegedly contributing to the downfall of the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in 2015.

Professor Mahao also accused the former Namibian leader of conniving with a “certain crook” who was part of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s first coalition government “to disturb the stability of the government”.

He said after the fall of the first Thabane government in 2015, Mr Ramaphosa who was the SADC mediator failed in his task of ensuring that the successor Pakalitha Mosisili-led government complied with SADC recommendations which included the removal of then army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.

Professor Mahao, who is currently the Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL), made the allegations while addressing an event which served the dual purpose of commemorating World Aids Day and announcing his nomination for the ABC deputy leader position.

He faces a tough battle for the post as party sources say that Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro and the incumbent, Prince Maliehe are also in the running for the post.

Addressing ABC members in Koro-Koro constituency early this week, Professor Mahao said “in 2014 one of his (Dr Thabane’s) coalition government partners, a crooked one, told the cabinet that there were people who were plotting to kill him and that he needed his security reinforced”.

“I trust that you know who that person is. This crook said he needed to be given security from the special forces and vehicles and you know what happened.” The first coalition comprised of Dr Thabane’s ABC, Mothetjoa Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP).

“As time went by, the crook destabilised the government and the prime minister (Thabane) made a decision to prorogue parliament. That crook however, used his international friends to force the hand of the prime minister to reopen parliament. The prime minister was then instructed to open parliament while we were in Namibia despite that the Lesotho constitution allows him to prorogue it.

“The Namibian president (Pohamba) disregarded our constitution so that that crook can continue to disturb the stability of the government. SADC forced Lesotho to go for an early election (in 2015) even though her problems had nothing to do with the elections. Her problems were those of security,” Professor Mahao said. The 2015 elections ushered in the Mosisili-led seven party coalition where the latter was deputised by Mr Metsing.

Professor Mahao accused Mr Ramaphosa of inaction when the Mosisili administration refused to implement SADC recommendations which called for the removal of Lt-Gen Kamoli among other things.

The recommendations were made in 2016 in the aftermath of a SADC inquiry which investigated the circumstances into the murder of Professor Mahao’s brother and then army commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

“The international community asked them (Mosisili and his partners) to expel criminals from the army but they refused. Had it not been for the liberation struggle of Basotho and the support of international community like the Americans, they would still be in power and disregarding the law,” Professor Mahao said.

He added: “I vividly remember the day the exiled leaders (Dr Thabane, Chief Maseribane and others) returned to the country and I met with Cyril Ramaphosa. In that meeting we asked about the progress he (Ramaphosa) had made in implementing SADC decisions. He told us that Prime Minister Mosisili had informed him that there was nothing he could do and that he was not going to fire the likes of Kamoli. He (Ramaphosa) told us that there was nothing he could do and I told him that it was clear he was not willing to assist us. I told him that Basotho will find their own solution and they indeed found it on the 3rd of June 2017 by voting out the seven-party coalition.”

Lt-Gen Mahao was on 25 June 2015 assassinated by his former LDF colleagues who claimed he had resisted arrest for allegedly being the ringleader of a mutiny.

However, Lt-Gen Mahao’s nephews — who were with him during the incident – disputed the army’s version of the event and instead accused the soldiers of killing him in cold blood.

A SADC commission of inquiry set up soon after the killing also quashed the LDF’s mutiny plot claim, citing lack of evidence.

Lt-Gen Mahao was appointed as LDF commander on 29 August 2014 after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fired the then commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli for alleged insubordination. However, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli rejected the dismissal challenging its legitimacy.

After Dr Thabane relinquished power in the wake of the 28 February 2015 snap elections, the seven-party coalition government led by Dr Mosisili reinstated Lt-Gen Kamoli, arguing that his dismissal and Lt-Gen Mahao’s promotion were illegal.

Lt Gen Kamoli was reinstated in a Government Gazette dated 21 May 2015 with another gazette issued on the same day terminating Lt-Gen Mahao’s appointment as LDF commander and reverting him to a brigadier.

Lt-Gen Mahao challenged his demotion in the High Court with the case not seeing the light of day after he was killed on 25 June 2015 by his LDF colleagues.

After two years without any movement on the case, the eight soldiers were arrested and they will be tried early next year.

The Mahao family has stated that they want Dr Mosisili, Mr Metsing and Lt-Gen Kamoli to be also held accountable for his death.

And on Sunday, Professor Mahao said Mr Metsing had used his “international friends” to stop the government from prosecuting him for corruption.

“You now know that the man whose responsibility it is to hurt the nation fled the country saying there was plot to kill him yet there was no such thing.

“When he was outside the country, the Lesotho government started an extradition processes and his international friends convinced the government to stop the processes because he would come on his own will.”

Prof Mahao said Mr Metsing’s international friends then moved to ensure that he is protected by coming up with clause 10 (of the government-opposition deal) which prevented the government from prosecuting Mr Metsing until after the reforms process.

“We are all equal before the eyes of the law except His Majesty King Letsie III but the fake king wants to use his international friends to suspend the law. Fortunately for us, we fought and clause 10 has been declared unconstitutional and now the onus is with the police and the DCEO to do their jobs,” he said.

Mr Metsing returned home a fortnight ago from exile in South Africa. He had been granted relief from possible criminal charges when the government and the opposition signed an agreement on 26 October this year facilitating his and other exiled opposition leaders’ return to participate in the reforms process.

Clause 10 of that Memorandum of Agreement states that “Mr Metsing and similarly placed persons in exile will not be subjected to any pending criminal proceedings during the national dialogue and reforms process”.

Others who returned home from exile are Mr Metsing’s deputy in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Tšeliso Mokhosi and the leader of Socialist Revolutionaries, Teboho Mojapela.

Although they returned on Sunday, the moratorium on their prosecution until after the reforms process was nullified by the Constitutional Court which ruled that “clause 10 (of the government-opposition agreement) is unconstitutional in as far as it undermines and is inconsistent with section 99(3) of the constitution” which empowers the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to decide whether or not to prosecute criminal cases.

Attempts to get a comment from Mr Metsing were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was not reachable.

LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata said Prof Mahao’s statements were misguided and that he must produce evidence to the effect that Mr Metsing has international friends that are fighting his battles locally.

“It is not illegal for anyone to have international friends but to say that those friends are being used to arm-twist the government is a blue lie. He must produce letters, videos or minutes showing that there was a meeting which agreed to arm twist the government,” Mr Sekata said.

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