ROTHE – All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane has accused the government of using the military to “intimidate people”.
Speaking at a rally in Rothe on Sunday, Thabane accused Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of not respecting the autonomy of the military.
He said Mosisili was using law enforcement agencies for his benefit.
“Mosisili unashamedly uses the military to intimidate us. But the military has specified duties, some of which include protecting this country and its borders,” Thabane said.
“The military is supposed to be autonomous and does not belong to him.
“Those people (military) have been done a favour to be where they are. They should refrain from being misused.”
He also said government ministers were interfering with court judgments.
“Ministers also interfere with the courts of laws by drawing politics into court proceedings. Most of the cases that go (before court) are politically motivated.”
He said the sedition charges brought against ABC’s secretary general Macaefa Billy was a sign that the government was using the courts to intimidate political opponents.
Thabane said some of the charges were so ridiculous that even prosecutors were embarrassed by them.
“There are many people who say things similar to what Billy said about the government. But because he is a politician the government decided to victimise him.”
Billy was acquitted of the charges earlier this year.
Thabane said the fugitives who fled to South Africa after being accused of attacking ministers in June 2007 were also “victimised because of their political affiliation to the ABC”.
He said the LCD administration had crippled the health delivery system.
“Their trashing of Queen Elizabeth II Hospital is a clear indication of an uncaring administration.
“Queen Elizabeth II Hospital is supposed to be the country’s top-most centre of excellence. If all other areas have failed, this administration should have at least excelled at improving the health care system and promoting good nutrition.”
Thabane said ministers were always travelling outside the country to earn per diems.
His remarks have however angered the LCD government which says Thabane is trying to mislead people by making false allegations for political millage.
LCD secretary-general and official government spokesperson Mothetjoa Metsing rubbished claims that the government was using the military to intimidate the people.
Said Metsing: “What the government does is within the limits of the law. Does he mean that the military was wrong to protect the PM when there was an attempt to assassinate him?”
Metsing said for the military to be autonomous it did not necessarily have to be a government within a government.
“While the military is an autonomous institution, it should be clear that it is also an arm of the government like any other institution. Therefore Thabane should not mislead people into believing the military is a government within a government.”
Metsing said Thabane was disrespecting both the military and his “followers whom he feeds untruths”.
He said Thabane was the one being unreasonable and unfair to the courts.
He denied that the LCD government was interfering with the judiciary.
“Judges are selected by the Judicial Service Commission, a body composed of independent elements not appointed by the government. We have absolutely no influence over them. Thabane is belittling these people (judges) by labelling them incompetent,” said Metsing.
“No judge has ever been victimised for not ruling in favour of the state. The state has lost numerous cases, a clear indication that it does not interfere with judgments.”
He said Thabane was trying to undermine the people’s confidence in the judiciary.
“He is one person looking to rule one day. Courts’ rulings should be respected and upheld. Would Thabane be satisfied to have his administration accused of controlling the courts?”
He said Thabane’s statements “actually amount to contempt of the courts which could land him in trouble if he is not careful”.
“He should understand that he is challenging the government. He is being provocative. We might be forced to take him head on,” Metsing said.
On the issue of government officials or ministers’ trips Metsing said Thabane as a person who was once a minister should know “without a shadow of doubt that Lesotho is an official and participatory member of regional and global organisations.”
“We do not just travel for the fun of it. This country actually benefits a great deal from our travels.
“If Thabane is so desperate to know what we do on our travels and wants us to list our achievements, then he could always invite us to his political rallies to address his followers.”
As for allegations that the government was crippling the health care system, Metsing said the government had achieved many things.
“Lesotho is among the best in the management of TB and HIV and Aids. Previous administrations of which Thabane was part of failed to boost the health system. He failed.”
Metsing said the LCD government was in the process of building a “top-class referral hospital which is set to be among the best this side of the equator”.