THE leader of the opposition Democratic Congress (DC), Pakalitha Mosisili has launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government for allegedly violating the independence of the judiciary and politicising the security agencies.
Dr Mosisili also accused the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of interference in the internal affairs of Lesotho.
Speaking at a rally this week in Mahobong in the Leribe district, the former prime minister said while governments had come and gone, this was the first time that the pillars of governance had come under siege from the government.
“Regimes have come and gone but this is the first time that I see the pillars of governance under such siege,” Dr Mosisili said.
“The pillars of this government are all under attack, all the security agencies are being headed by politicians.
“As far as this government is concerned, one can only be appointed police commissioner if they affiliate with the All Basotho Convention (ABC). The Director of National Security Services is only in that position because he contested the elections under the Basotho National Party (BNP) banner.
“How then, can we depoliticise the security agencies when this government is making such appointments? (The NSS director Pheello) Ralenkoane is a politician, otherwise he wouldn’t have contested in the past elections.”
Dr Mosisili said the fact that Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara had been asked to ‘show cause’ why she may not be impeached “was a clear indication that the judiciary is under attack”.
Justice Majara’s tenure at the helm of the judiciary hangs in the balance after she was recently served with a letter asking her to ‘show cause’ why she should not be impeached.
A source close to the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several issues were raised in the ‘show cause’ letter.
“The issues are basically about her conduct. Top of the list is the issue of the M27 000 housing allowance she gave herself although according to the law she is entitled to M4000,” the source said.
While senior government officials including the government secretary, Moahloli Mphaka and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mokhele Moletsane were evasive on the contents of the letter, Mr Moletsane however, conceded that the government expected Justice Majara to respond within seven days of receiving the letter.
He refused to say when the letter had been served on the chief justice and when the seven days would be up.
Dr Mosisili also criticised the government’s decision to include legislators from the opposition and governing parties among the list of Basotho who will lease 300 vehicles to the government, saying this amounted to corruption.
“They (the governing parties) said they loathe corruption but I have never seen such corruption as this that exists in this government. They made a noise over the fleet tender when we were still in government and today they are the ones fighting over the very tender and they even want legislators to lease their cars to the government. This is corruption,” Dr Mosisili said.
He also tore into Dr Thabane for hiring Xie Yan, a Lesotho citizen of Chinese origin as head of special projects and trade adviser.
“This (Dr Thabane) is the man who in the past gave the Guptas our diplomatic passports when they had never even set foot in our country and today he has appointed a notorious Chinese national as advisor in his office. This is only because birds of the same feather flock together.”
Dr Mosisili said they were still waiting for the government to set up commissions of inquiry into the killing of Dr Thabane’s former wife Lipolelo Thabane and the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo.
“We set up an independent commission to investigate the assassination of Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao because we felt that his death was one too many and yet this government has failed to set up a commission to investigate the other deaths,” Dr Mosisili said.
Lt-Gen Mahao was fatally shot by his erstwhile LDF colleagues on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru. The LDF claimed Lt-Gen Mahao had resisted arrest for allegedly leading a mutiny when he was killed but that claim was dismissed as a hoax by a regional inquiry into his death.
Lt-Gen Mahao’s family accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.
At the behest of Dr Mosisili, SADC appointed a 10-member commission of inquiry headed by retired Botswana judge Mphaphi Phumaphi which conducted its investigations from 31 August and 23 October 2015. The commission subsequently recommended that the-then government should investigate the killing of Lt-Gen Mahao and prosecute those found to be responsible. It also recommended a raft of constitutional, security sector, governance, public service and media reforms to ensure stability in Lesotho.
But on Sunday, Dr Mosisili accused SADC of “hijacking” the Phumaphi commission.
“That was our commission. In Lesotho the Prime Minister is the one who has powers to set up a commission and we had only asked SADC to help us with experts because we wanted it to be as transparent and independent as possible,” Dr Mosisili said.
He however, blamed the advent of the current government on his own party’s failure to unite and mobilise for victory in the 3 June 2017 snap national elections.
“Today we are enduring this maladministration because you failed to listen to your leadership in the past elections. You should stop fighting amongst yourselves and be united.
“I want them to govern us so we can feel the pinch and we can correct our ways next time. They don’t even need us to topple them as they are already fighting among themselves. I therefore urge you all to go to your constituencies and put our party in order,” Dr Mosisili said.
His allegations were however, refuted by the government spokesperson Nthakeng Selinyane.
Mr Selinyane said it was Dr Mosisili who requested the SADC commission to investigate the assassination of Lt-Gen Mahao but ended up fighting and doing “everything to frustrate and bully the commission”.
“After (the commission made its findings) that he (Dr Mosisili) wrote a long report to critique, disparage and dismiss that report,” Mr Selinyane said.
Mr Selinyane also said the appointment of Mr Xie was above board.
“His is one of the many coterminous appointments which the Prime Minister can make because they run concurrently with the tenure of the PM. Anyone who is appointed is open to public scrutiny, which is exactly what Ntate Mosisili is doing” Mr Selinyane said.
He also said “the government is committed to investigating the death of Ms Thabane”.