. . . as DC youth league hits back
Lekhetho Ntsukunyane and Billy Ntaote
DEPUTY Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing has warned Monyane Moleleki and Thomas Thabane to stop telling “fairytales that will never turn into reality” about a change of government lest they face the wrath of the law.
Mr Metsing, who temporarily assumed the premiership during Dr Mosisili working trip to Algeria, also accused Mr Moleleki and Dr Thabane, who are Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader respectively, of giving their supporters “false hope and influencing them to engage in illegal ways of changing the government”.
However, the DC Youth League President Thuso Litjobo has hit back at Mr Metsing, saying the deputy premier is in “panic mode” after the signing of a coalition agreement meant to oust the seven-party governing alliance.
Last Thursday, a DC faction supporting Mr Moleleki signed a coalition pact with the ABC and its opposition partners, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho to form a government of national unity (GNU) to oust the governing seven-party alliance.
This was after the Mr Moleleki’s faction, which consists of the bulk of the DC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) members on 10 November this year pulled out of government and ordered members, including party leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili Dr Mosisili, to resign from their government positions.
Four ministers and two deputy ministers have since resigned from government in conformance with the NEC’s directive, with Mr Moleleki and three other ministers moving to the National Assembly’s crossbench to signify their withdrawal from the government before it was indefinitely adjourned last week.
The NEC also suspended Dr Mosisili for alleged misconduct and appointed Mr Moleleki as acting leader.
However, Dr Mosisili did not take the direct challenge to his rule lying down, with the premier also suspending 10 members of the NEC including Mr Moleleki and calling for a special party conference slated for tomorrow.
The conference remains uncertain after the NEC members supporting Mr Moleleki made a High Court application to interdict Dr Mosisili and his supporters from holding the indaba which will be heard today.
In a statement broadcast on national television on Monday, Mr Metsing accused Mr Moleleki and Dr Thabane of engaging in a “dangerous campaign of causing confusion and misleading the nation”.
“I am making this statement on behalf of the government with the aim of setting the record straight, and to strongly reprimand some people who seem to be on a dangerous campaign of causing confusion among the nation and misleading them concerning governance issues,” he said.
Mr Metsing, who is also Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, said during last Thursday’s press conference to announce the coalition pact, Mr Moleleki and Dr Thabane stated as fact that a new government had been created.
“I should explain from the onset that there is nothing wrong when individuals and groups of people announce their partnership. There is absolutely nothing criminal about that,” he said.
“What is disturbing though are some of the statements that were uttered by Ntate Thabane and Ntate Moleleki at the press conference.”
Mr Metsing quoted Dr Thabane, who addressed the press conference via telephone from his Ficksburg base.
“We put before you an agreement we have reached in order to form government and resuscitate peace, stability and solidarity of the nation. This type of government we have agreed upon will be led by the two parties namely ABC and DC.”
The deputy premier also quoted, Mr Moleleki who said: “When all the processes are done, and this agreement of ours has been received by the National Assembly Speaker (Ntlhoi Motsamai), she must not delay to submit it to His Majesty so that he can convene the Council of State for consultation on when the new government will take over the reins.”
Mr Metsing said the statements gave the impression was already formed and only awaiting inauguration.
“The nation can hear that Ntate Thabane is saying they have reached a decision to form government, and that their parties will lead the government. And Ntate Moleleki, conversely, says the new government should take over the reins,” said the deputy premier.
“There is no doubt this means is they have formed a new government and what is left is for their government to be officially inaugurated and take over the reins.”
Mr Metsing stressed the government could only be changed in parliament according to the Constitution of Lesotho and the National Assembly Standing Orders.
“There is no other way, and they (Dr Thabane and Mr Moleleki) know that very well. Therefore, they are not being just to the people they serve. They are confusing the nation.”
He said the government was not shaken by the tumultuous events of recent weeks, adding “it remains intact”.
“The government of His Majesty, which was formed following the 2015 election, still exists and is in power. It continues with its administration. “They (Dr Thabane and Mr Moleleki) are saying all sorts of things because they have embarked on an unfortunate campaign to mislead the people. They give their people false hope that soon there will be change of government.
“These are dangerous politics that could influence some people to try to change the government through illegal means.”
Mr Metsing added: “I can assure you the government is stable. We are still in full control of the government this nation has elected. There is nothing shaking the government; it remains intact. You are being told lies about a change of regime.
“You are just being told fairytales that will never turn into reality. I want to conclude by strongly warning these leaders who are on a crusade to mislead the nation, as well as their followers, that they should refrain from sowing seeds of confusion to the nation; stop giving false hope to your followers; stop influencing people to engage in illegal ways of changing their government. The government is strongly reprimanding you. Avoid engaging in violations that could lead you into the hands of the law enforcement agencies. You should all tread carefully lest you end up on the wrong side of the law.”
However, in their press conference convened to respond to Mr Metsing’s remarks, the DC Youth League executive committee yesterday accused the deputy premier of “panicking”.
In his remarks, Mr Litjobo said: “The LCD leader’s statement is just a sign he is panicking. Metsing is in panic mode because he can realise that his future in the government does not look bright following the formation of a partnership to form government of national unity by Ntate Moleleki and Ntate Thabane.”
He said Mr Metsing was wrong to surmise that Dr Thabane and Mr Moleleki had announced they had formed a new government.
“They didn’t say that. All they are saying was that they entered into a coalition agreement for the establishment of a GNU. But because the LCD leader is against the unity of the nation due to his personal interests, he is trying to intimidate our leaders.
“We cannot allow him to abuse his powers and threaten Ntate Moleleki and Ntate Thabane for uniting Basotho. We condemn his statement in the strongest terms.”
Mr Litjobo said the deputy premier’s threat of using law enforcement agencies revealed abuse of the state institutions for political ends.
“For him to imply that our leaders’ actions are tantamount to violation of the law and therefore the law enforcement will take action, shows his abuse of the police in political activities especially where he sees a political defeat coming his way. Metsing is certainly abusing his powers,” he said.
“We are preaching unity and reconciliation of the Basotho nation but Ntate Metsing seems hell-bent on drawing soldiers and police officers into fighting his political battles. His divide and rule tactics are meant to bring divisions within the security agencies, and we won’t allow that to happen.”
Mr Litjobo also railed against Mr Metsing for trying to instill fear “within the public and especially members of the opposition in an attempt to derail the union”.
“We won’t be easily scared by his speeches. He cannot use the police and army against anybody because this is a political battle that has nothing to do with the police or army. We can see through his attempts to cause divisions in the police and the army and stir confusion,” said Litjobo.