Metsing speaks out on treason allegations

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing has accused the government of “double standards” by seeking to have him prosecuted for treason alongside Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane and former army commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Tlali Kamoli.

The opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader said in its bid to punish him and others, the government had ignored a SADC-brokered agreement which calls for the stay of all trials of politicians at least until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms recommended by the regional body in 2016.

He said in other instances the government claimed to be bound by SADC decisions but in this particular instance where SADC wants it to stop all trials of politicians, it claimed its hands were tied and it could not implement the SADC decision to stop their trial. This, according to him, is double standards.

Messrs Metsing, Mochoboroane, Lt-Gen Kamoli’s co-accused are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa.

Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane will only join their fellow accused if they lose their pending High Court application to stop the state from trying them at least until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

The treason charge is in connection with the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of former Prime Minister Thabane. Mr Metsing was deputy prime minister at the time of the attempted coup while Mr Mochoboroane was Communications minister and LCD secretary general.

The treason trial had initially been slated for 25 February 2020 but it failed to take off after Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane filed a constitutional application for an order barring the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane from prosecuting them because of the October 2018 agreement between the previous Thomas Thabane-led government and the opposition halting any trials of politicians until after the completion of the reforms.

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

The Constitutional Court had previously outlawed this particular clause 10 after the late Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng’s father, Thabo Khetheng, petitioned the court to declare it unconstitutional saying self-serving agreements between politicians could not outstrip the constitution. PC Khetheng was killed by fellow police officers on 26 March 2016.

Earlier this year, Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane petitioned the same court to rescind its 22 November 2018 judgement outlawing Clause 10. Their application was dismissed last month.

They have since launched another High Court application to stop the state from trying them.

Over the weekend, Mr Metsing spoke out publicly for the first time since losing the constitutional application to stop their trial.

Addressing LCD supporters in Tsikoane, Leribe, the opposition politician accused the government of double standards by allegedly complying with SADC recommendations only when it was convenient to them.

This despite that it was actually the constitutional Court bench which ruled that their trial should go ahead because the SADC-brokered deal had not been domesticated into law by an act of the Lesotho parliament to make it binding in the country.

“You all know that there is a SADC agreement that I should not be prosecuted until the reforms process has been concluded,” Mr Metsing told LCD supporters.

“But the most learned people are against that. When they are asked about it, they claim they are only implementing SADC recommendations for people to be prosecuted.

“SADC recommended that those who had a hand in the alleged treason should not be prosecuted, and yet today I stand accused of attempting to topple the government. Against SADC’s recommendations I am being prosecuted and the question is why should it start with me?

“This government only complies with certain SADC recommendations when it’s convenient for them to persecute and hurt other people. This calls for us to understand the kind of leadership that we have and we should pray for them because if they are allowed to do things as they wish, the whole country shall be thrown into turmoil,” Mr Metsing said.

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