Moleleki lashes out at Denmark

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DC Deputy Leader, Monyane Moleleki
Police Minister, Monyane Moleleki

…accuses Danish government of sponsoring a local NGO to conduct a study he says undermines Lesotho’s sovereignty

Keiso Mohloboli

Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki on Sunday lashed out at Denmark for disrespecting Basotho and sponsoring a local non-governmental organisation, Development for Peace Education (DPE), to conduct a study he condemned as undermining Lesotho’s sovereignty.

Addressing a rally attended by about 1000 DC supporters in Machache, Mr Moleleki said this lack of respect was the reason Lesotho closed its Denmark embassy and relocated to Japan while he was still Foreign Affairs minister.

Mr Moleleki, who is also Machache Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister of Police, told the cheering crowd that it was time he “exposed” how the government of Denmark ill-treated him and fellow ministers in the early 2000s, and was now out to destabilise Lesotho through civil society.

“The Danish were not fair to us and denied Lesotho funding to build Metolong dam, but now they support initiatives that want to mislead children of this country.

“I see it as unfair for an NGO to barge into Machache constituency for a 30-minute gathering and then ask the people to answer a questionnaire with very serious questions about the army’s competence and training or whether this country needs the army or not. Then again, who are the Danish to decide how our own cabinet must be elected?” Mr Moleleki thundered, as he brandished the DPE questionnaire in question.

Mr Moleleki said due to the “terrible” treatment he and fellow ministers were subjected to in Denmark in 2002 while he was still Minister of Mining and Natural Resources, and the cold reception given to former Labour and Employment Minister Advocate Refiloe Masemene, he advised Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to close Lesotho’s embassy in protest.

“In 2002, I went to Denmark together with the then Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Thomas Thabane, who is now leader of the (main opposition) All Basotho Convention (ABC).

“The cabinet of Lesotho sent us there to seek funds from the Danish government, not as a donation but a loan to support the Metolong dam project.

“When we arrived in Denmark, we were put in a small office and attended by a Principal Secretary who didn’t even bother to tell us the ministry she was from.

“The lady sat in front of us smoking a cigarette in a very irritating manner. Both me and Ntate Thabane are not smokers and felt very offended to be attended by a lady who was busy blowing smoke into our faces as we explained why we were in Denmark. In between her smoking, she just told us that that the government was not interested in supporting dam projects because they occupy a lot of land.

“Basotho are since enjoying clean water from the same project that the Danish government didn’t support, yet they now have the money to support this NGO,” Mr Moleleki said.

He also spoke about how Lesotho’s first blind Minister, Advocate Masemene, was turned back to Lesotho after he arrived at Copenhagen International Airport without a visa for his entry.

“I was Foreign Affairs Minister at the time when Denmark hosted a disability conference and cabinet nominated Advocate Masemene to represent Lesotho at that meeting.

“I can’t remember the exact year but all the preparations were made and Ntate Masemene went to Denmark with his wife, who was his personal secretary.

“Upon arrival at the airport, he was told by immigration officers that he was not going to be granted an emergency visa, and had to return to Lesotho and apply for one here. Lesotho’s ambassador to Denmark, Dr Khati, tried to intervene but it did not help. The minister was put on the next flight back to Lesotho and never attended that conference or set his foot on the soil of Denmark.

“I then approached Dr Mosisili and asked him to allow me to close the Lesotho Embassy in that country because they didn’t respect us and also did not care about the relationship they had with Lesotho. Dr Mosisili gave me the go-ahead to shut the embassy down which we did, and opened another one in Japan.

“Personally, I am of the view that the Danish don’t respect a black person; that is why they gave us such a bad reception,” Mr Moleleki said.

“I am saying this for Basotho to know that the Danish don’t respect them yet they want to determine how we run the country’s pillars of governance.”

Asked about Mr Moleleki’s speech, Denmark’s Honorary Consul to Lesotho Simon Phafane said he was not mandated to speak to the media on behalf of the Danish government.

“My only duty is to assist Basotho when they want to apply for visas. In fact, I simply refer them to the Denmark Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.

“But what I can tell you is there is currently no Lesotho embassy in Denmark,” Mr Phafane said.

On the other hand, DPE Country Coordinator Sofonea Shale said he could not engage in a slanging match with Mr Moleleki.

“I don’t want to answer Ntate Moleleki’s claims because he is an elder by age and position. The only thing I can say is that DPE has been running campaigns aimed at enabling ordinary citizens to voice their views about reform processes. “To date, we have been to more than 70 constituencies. Then again, DPE introduced that campaign to the government even before it started. What Ntate Moleleki is saying doesn’t match his position and that is all I can say,” Mr Shale said.

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