‘Maseribane warns of ‘security crisis’

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Semonkong-Chief-Lerotholi-Lerotholi-Compol-Khotatso-Tsooana-Min-of-Soports-Thesele-Maseribane-on-Friday-during-the-re-opening-of-the-8th-Parliament-Session
Semonkong-Chief-Lerotholi-Lerotholi-Compol-Khotatso-Tsooana-Min-of-Soports-Thesele-Maseribane-on-Friday-during-the-re-opening-of-the-8th-Parliament-Session

…as ABC also expresses concern over developments in the police and army

Billy Ntaote

Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, has warned of “a security crisis” if the on-going restructuring of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is not stopped with immediate effect.

Chief ‘Maseribane says Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili should rein-in Acting Police Commissioner Keketso Monaheng and Police Minister Monyane Moleleki, whose restructuring of the LMPS has received widespread criticism from both within the agency and various stakeholders.

According to the BNP leader, the shakeup could only bring bitterness into an institution in desperate need of “healing” after its bitter feud with the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) last year.

The animosity resulted in the fatal shooting of an LMPS sub-inspector by renegade LDF members as they stormed Police Headquarters on the morning of 30 August 2014.

The LDF also took over Mabote and Maseru Central Charge Office on the same morning in what then prime minister and All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, said was an attempt to overthrow his coalition government which also comprised the BNP and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

However, Chief ‘Maseribane believes Dr Mosisili’s seven-party government, which came to power after the 28 February 2015 snap elections had resulted in a hung parliament, had started on the “wrong foot”, particularly with regards the police.

After receiving his transfer letter last week, one of the officers, Assistant Commissioner Sello Mosili, took legal action against government—a development Chief ‘Maseribane said did  not augur well for the national and the LMPS in particular.

Chief ‘Maseribane says Lesotho should be moving forward and not in “circles of security and political instability”.

“We, as the BNP, suspect that the decision taken by the Acting Commissioner, was influenced by a certain political agenda; it is nowhere close to the mission of depoliticising our security agencies as is being claimed.

“These are people who are supposed to be professionals in the execution of their duties and now we have someone transferring them from one unit to another just to pursue political ends. We should stop bringing the police into our politics and let officers do their work without interference.

“It seems decisions being made by this government are somewhat meant to conceal certain politicians’ corrupt actions and can only succeed with a weakened police service, which is exactly what the transfers are meant to achieve.

“But our warning is if the transfers continue, then we are bound to have serious problems in our country. The police are human and should be treated with the respect they deserve.”

The BNP leader added his party and its opposition allies would work hard to ensure Lesotho’s security situation does not deteriorate any further.

“We will protest against these transfers both legally and politically. We will raise our concerns in parliament and we won’t just sit back and watch this country being dragged down this unfortunate path of instability. Ntate Mosisili has started his journey as prime minister on the wrong foot with these police transfers, and if I was in his shoes, I would have started by a healing process in the LMPS.

“The police need counselling and not salt being rubbed into their open wounds. We saw a police officer die a gruesome death in August last year and we don’t even hear the new Acting Police Commissioner starting by passing his condolences to the family of the deceased (Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko).

“Unbelievably, his first step as the new LMPS boss was not development but condemning his subordinates for provoking the army while neglecting the losses the police suffered at the hands of the soldiers during the 30 August 2014 raids on three Maseru police stations.”

According to Chief ‘Maseribane, Mr Monaheng needed to be reminded that his sole responsibility was to ensure that all perpetrators of crimes are prosecuted, and not to personalise his position.

“We are concerned that he seems to be driven by what could be an attempt to frustrate or even destroy existing dockets of cases that need to be taken to court. We wonder if his traditional initiation was properly undertaken as he seems to be rushing to publicise things he should have dealt with internally first.

“This man should be respectful of our intelligence as people who have been involved in these matters before and he should know this country is also our home. We cannot sit back and let him do as he pleases and abuse his office under the guise of depoliticising the police service when in actual fact, he is bringing more trouble into the LMPS,” said Chief ‘Maseribane.

Meanwhile, ABC deputy leader, Tlali Khasu, said his party was “baffled” by developments in the security sector since the DC, LCD, Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and National Independent Party (NIP) formed government last month.

“Lesotho’s constitution dictates that Defence and National Security are the responsibility of the Prime Minister and these portfolios should be under the control of a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. However, with this coalition, their first mistake was to allocate these agencies to standalone ministries.

“We also fail to understand why we have an Acting Commissioner of Police when the Police Commissioner (Khothatso Tšooana) is back in the country from his leave of absence. Our expectation was that both Tšooana and Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao would assume leadership of the LMPS and LDF respectively on their return from the special leave they undertook in November last year under the Maseru Security Accord, while Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli retired.

“We signed the Accord (in October 2014) with an understanding that there would not be any problems when these three men returned from their special leave outside the country.

“It therefore, comes as a complete shock that this is not what is happening and these developments could have far-reaching implications on the country’s security.

“Ntate Monaheng does not have the right to be making all these transfers that are bringing confusion in the police service, especially when the substantive office-holder is back in the country, but has not been called back to duty for some reason,” Mr Khasu said.

Mr Monaheng, meanwhile, told the Lesotho Times last week that he would not discuss the transfers, while Mr Moleleki has not been responding to requests for interviews regarding the issue.

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