EXILED leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing is confident of returning to the country a year after he fled citing a government plot to assassinate him.
The former deputy prime minister addressed a rally on Sunday where he told his supporters that he would hold talks with the SADC mediation team in Pretoria to pave the way for his return to Lesotho.
The meeting with the SADC team that is led by former South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke was held on Tuesday.
Yesterday, the LCD deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi, told the Lesotho Times that they had a fruitful meeting with Justice Moseneke and his team.
“We are very pleased with Justice Moseneke and his team because they gave us a chance to table our issues,” Mr Mokhosi said.
“For the first time we felt that there was someone who wanted to listen to what we had to say.
“It is in this spirit that we sincerely hope that he will bring the much needed peace between the government and the opposition as he handled our issues with such maturity and was not at all judgmental. We are indeed very happy and hope to have another meeting soon.”
Mr Metsing has been holed up in South Africa since fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him. The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that he fled to escape prosecution for corruption.
The opposition has set Mr Metsing’s return as one of the preconditions for its participation in the process to implement multi-sector reforms that are aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.
The LCD leader recently spoke of his longing to come back “as soon as possible” to participate in the reforms. He said this in an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times.
And while addressing the Sunday rally, he restated his desire to return to Lesotho so that “all of us to look at how best we can turn a new leaf” in the country.
He said this in a telephonic address to LCD supporters who converged at Mahobong in the Leribe district.
“It is our strongest believe that God will be kind to us and as you may have learnt that the SADC facilitation team started its mission on Friday and on Tuesday (31 July) we’ll be meeting with them in Pretoria,” Mr Metsing said, adding, “it is my strongest belief that this will be a start of a journey to liberation”.
“This is a time when we need your prayers ever than before, and we shall be updating you on every step that we make as your leaders. We therefore need your oneness on this one (meeting with the SADC facilitators) and I shall be with you.
“How long shall Lesotho bleed and how long shall we be entangled in political unrest? It is sad that when we are all expected to take responsibility as the whole political leadership some refuse to do so.
“I know that I have a fair share of my weaknesses that people can point out to but I believe that the time has come for all of us to look at how best we can turn a new leaf. I know that one day I shall come back to this country because I have no other except this one and even if I may die in South Africa, my remains shall be brought back to Lesotho where they belong.”
Mr Metsing also took a swipe at the Thomas Thabane administration, accusing it of bankrupting the government, preaching the politics of hatred and unleashing the police to brutalise civilians.
“I have always maintained that I have never had a problem with the nationals (members of the ruling All Basotho Convention and the Basotho National Party) but I have always had a problem with their leaders as they are the ones who preach the politics of hatred,” Mr Metsing said.
He said for the first time in history, many civilians had died at the hands of the police.
“It is for the first time in this country’s history that we have had so many people dying due to police brutality. Basotho are taking joy in killing their own and it is time that we stood up against these acts and say it’s enough. All these atrocities should come to a stop in this country.
“These things never happened in the past and the saddest thing is when we are told that the country is bankrupt. This is the first time that this (bankruptcy) has happened and unfortunately it doesn’t affect only those in the congress (parties).
“It is also a problem for the nationals and everyone else. We are all affected and it’s time that we condemned it.”
Mr Metsing’s utterances come at a time when the police have been under fire for torturing criminal suspects. However, the police and the army were similarly accused of repression during Mr Metsing’s tenure in government.
During the one year that the Thabane-led four party coalition has been in power, the army has pledged its allegiance to the civilian government while the police have made some breakthroughs in some unresolved criminal cases. These include the arrest of military suspects accused of the June 2015 assassination of the former army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao.
Mr Metsing’s suggestion that the current government is at fault for the dire financial situation is at odds with the recent revelation by Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro that the government inherited a weak “post conflict” economy where there was only M1, 5 billion in the cash reserves down from M3, 5 billion in the 2015/2016 financial year.