Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says he is surprised by accusations that his government has not made any effort to reach out to three opposition party leaders who fled the country last month.
According to Dr Mosisili, who is also leader of the ruling Democratic Congress (DC), his coalition administration had tried to contact the leaders in South Africa where they are in ‘hiding’ for the purpose of “facilitating their safe return to Lesotho”.
The main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leader Keketso Rantšo, fled the country last month allegedly after being tipped off that there were plans to assassinate them.
Addressing a media briefing in Maseru on Monday, Dr Mosisili said a meeting between government and church-leaders to discuss the plight of the exiled politicians had agreed on a follow-up “to discuss the matter further”.
“It was agreed that Home Affairs minister Lekhetho Rakuoane and Foreign Affairs minister Tlohang Sekhamane, should represent government in that meeting,” Mosisili said.
However, when Mr Rakuoane later called Chief ‘Maseribane to agree on the date and time of the meeting, the BNP leader was not forthcoming, the premier added .
“He told Mr Rakuoane that he first had to consult with Dr Thabane and Ms Rantšo and that he would contact the minister at a later stage.
“But it has now been 10 days since Minister Rakuoane talked to Chief ‘Maseribane and we still await their response. They have not told us when and where they intend to meet with government.
“It is therefore, misleading to conclude that government is silent on the matter and that we’re not doing anything about their plight. We are waiting for them to make contact.”
The premier further appealed to the opposition trio to “commit to the promise they made that they would meet with government”.
He added: “But above all, I urge them to return home. Government is more than willing to provide them with security as it is our responsibility to protect every Mosotho.”
The premier also said he had received reports that after fleeing Lesotho, Dr Thabane and Chief ‘Maseribane, had visited the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Headquarters in Botswana seeking to meet with the regional bloc’s chairperson, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe “to discuss their concerns with him about their compromised security in Lesotho”.
“But President Mugabe refused to talk to them after asking them if they had first reported their fears to either government, heads of churches or South Africa’s President Jacob Zama, who is the Chairman of the Organ of Defence and Security Cooperation ,” Dr Mosisili said.
“Because their answers to President Mugabe’s questions were all in the negative, he declined to talk to them and instead, advised them to return home to report the matter to the relevant authorities.”
However, Dr Thabane on Tuesday dismissed Dr Mosisili’s statement that they had been snubbed by Mr Mugabe, telling the Lesotho Times that “he’s just saving face”.
According to the ABC leader, Lesotho government officials could not care less about their safety saying if they did, they would never have reinstated Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli. Dr Thabane fired Lt Gen Kamoli in August 2014 for alleged insubordination but refused to vacate the post arguing the dismissal had not followed due process.
“When I was the prime minister, I removed Kamoli from office because he did not respect me and also endangered my life. But when Mosisili took over, he reinstated him despite the danger this man poses,” Dr Thabane said.
The ABC leader added it defied logic why government wanted to meet with the exiled leaders because they had nothing to discuss.
“I don’t know what it is that these people want from us, where and why they want us to meet. When we fled, didn’t they realise that our lives were in danger?” Dr Thabane asked.
The former premier also berated Dr Mosisili for “pretending to care”, insisting if he did, “he would have called me a long time ago as a follow-up on my welfare”.
“But he hasn’t called to check on me and has not appealed to me to return home. I have left my children, he has not. He couldn’t care less. He’s lying and only trying to save face.
“We released Kamoli from the army but Mosisili got back at us by reinstating him, yet he expects us to be free in Lesotho. Well, life is a spinning wheel and things will turn against him one day.
“Now he can comfortably say whatever he wants because he is in power but he should know it will come to an end one day.”