Political analyst Professor Mafa Sejanamane has responded angrily to a statement by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili that last month’s attack on his home was used as a “hollow and despicable political ploy” to tarnish government’s image.
The National University of Lesotho (NUL) Political Science professor’s residence was attacked by unknown assailants on 7 May. Two windows were broken in the attack while Sejanamane said he heard gunshots during the attack.
After the assault, Professor Sejanamane said he suspected the incident was linked to his critical analysis about Lesotho’s current political situation in both the print and electronic media as well as his blog, lesothoanalysis.wordpress.com.
Among the organisations which condemned the attack was the African Union (AU), which issued a statement expressing “deep concern over the breakdown of the rule of law in the Kingdom of Lesotho”.
On Monday this week, Dr Mosisili was addressing parliament on government’s position over the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry into Lesotho’s security and political challenges, when he made reference to the attack.
Dr Mosisili said: “More recently, on 7 May 2016, when criminals threw stones at Professor Mafa Sejanamane’s home in Mazenod, there was wild rumour that this was a government-sponsored attempt on the Professor’s life. This rumour was so strong that the African Union released a press statement expressing ‘deep concern over the breakdown of the rule of law in the Kingdom of Lesotho’.
“A newspaper carrying the title, ‘African Union blasts Lesotho’ reported that the AU had raised concern with the state of human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism. All these because of an incident in which common criminals had used stones to break two windows at a house of one person, without inflicting injury to anyone.
“I therefore commend the Commission for bringing this mischievous practice of information peddling to the fore, so that the international community as a whole, and Basotho in particular, will no longer fall prey to this hollow and despicable political ploy.”
But the statement angered Professor Sejanamane who told the Lesotho Times that Dr Mosisili referred to the incident the away he did “because he is under pressure and in panic mode”.
“I have kept his government under so much pressure by exposing how the rule of law and democracy are undermined under his administration. He is feeling the pressure and is in panic mode. I will keep up the pressure. In fact, I have not started, I’m yet to pile more pressure on his government,” Professor Sejanamane.
“The prime minister disregards principles of democracy. To him democracy only comes once after four years when it’s time for elections and he is soliciting votes. That’s unacceptable. By Tuesday next week, when the government attends the SADC Double Troika Summit in Botswana, I would have sensitized the Summit about the current state of affairs in Lesotho through a petition signed by thousands of people.”
The Lesotho Times saw the online petition titled ‘Stop Impunity in Lesotho’ which Professor Sejanamane posted on his Twitter handle.
At around 6:30pm yesterday, the petition, which basically calls for the Summit to enforce and monitor the implementation of the SADC recommendations in Lesotho, indicated it had been signed by 1594 people.
The petition reads: “From April 2015, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) began a campaign to detain more than 50 soldiers, torture them severely for allegedly being suspected of mutiny. After their families had applied for habeas corpus, some of those soldiers were brought to court in leg-iron shackles and dripping blood and other signs of torture. Another batch of more than 20 soldiers fled the country and continue to live in exile in South Africa.
“At the same time, three leaders of opposition parties in parliament were threatened and also fled to South Africa where they remain up to the present. In another sign of instability and lack of rule of law, heavily armed soldiers in three army vehicles waylaid Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao, former commander of the army, and brutally murdered him and dragged his body into one of the vehicles, to a military hospital where a concerted effort to hide evidence, including washing his body and clothes was undertaken.
“The SADC Double Troika Summit in Pretoria, South Africa established an international Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Phumaphi from Botswana to investigate the circumstances of his murder and related issues.
“The Phumaphi Commission among other things recommended that Lt-Gen Kamoli be relieved of his Command of the LDF; soldiers implicated in cases of murder, high treason and related matters be suspended while investigations about those crimes are completed without any hindrance; detained soldiers be released since there is evidence that they were tortured and no case was made to the Commission contradicting that; measures be taken to ensure that opposition leaders and other exiles return to the country.
“At its summit in Gaborone in January 2016, the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government received and endorsed the recommendations for implementation by the Lesotho government. None of the above decisions have been implemented.
“On the contrary, Prime Minister Mosisili in parliament on 20 June 2016 praised the loyalty and competence of Lt-Gen Kamoli; suggested that rather than release detainees he is inclined to issue a general amnesty to all soldiers including the murderers and those who have warrants of arrest for treason who continue to be ensconced in the barracks under the protection of the LDF command.
“He blamed the exile of opposition leaders on themselves because they are not in danger. When the Double Troika Summit convenes on 28 June 2016, we plead that impunity in Lesotho be stopped and decisions that Lt-Gen Kamoli be removed be enforced since all other decisions are dependent on that. We also plead that a supervised investigation and prosecution of all cases identified by the Phumaphi Commission be decided upon. Finally, we plead that SADC ensures that a comprehensive and inclusive constitutional, public sector and security reform as per communique of 19 June 2016 be undertaken under supervision of SADC.”
The Prime Minister’s Press Attaché Motumi Ralejoe yesterday dismissed Professor Sejanamane’s statements as unfounded allegations meant to discredit Dr Mosisili and the government.
“Let’s first establish who Professor Sejanamane is. The professor, at some stage, was tasked to manage the university (NUL) or a group of universities and he failed dismally because he showed signs of being a dictator himself, not Ntate Mosisili,” Mr Ralejoe said.
“Professor Sejanamane is not ashamed to say what he is saying today because he knows quite well that he is living in a democratic country that upholds the rule of law. He knows he is exercising his right to freedom of speech under the administration of Ntate Mosisili. His unfounded claims prove he has got so much freedom he even abuses it. Ntate Mosisili, when referring to Professor Sejanamane’s attack, was not taking for granted what happened to him. The Prime Minister was just expressing his surprise that the AU was able to issue such a damning press statement when one person’s home was attacked by criminals and broke two windows without injuring anybody.”