Opposition calls for stay away
The All Basotho Convention (ABC), Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and Basotho National Party (BNP) have called for a countrywide stay-away on Monday and Tuesday next week to show their displeasure at the country’s “deteriorating” security situation.
The country’s largest opposition political parties want government to ensure the rule of law is respected and also rein-in members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) who have been on the rampage over recent weeks, arresting, detaining and torturing their colleagues they suspected of plotting a mutiny.
BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo yesterday said the opposition was calling on employees and Basotho at large hoping for Lesotho’s return to stability to “stay away” from their workplaces on the days in question and pressure the seven-party coalition government into addressing the security crisis, which has been raging since the beginning of last year. Taxi operators have also been urged to ensure their vehicles are off the road on the days in question to paralyse the public transport system.
“The seven-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili ignored the security crisis in this country until it worsened and resulted in the death of former army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao (on 25 June 2015). In this protest, we are calling on employees in both the public service and private sector to excuse themselves from work and show the government that the security issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Chief Molapo said.
According to Chief Molapo, the fact that ABC leader Thomas Thabane, and his BNP and RCL counterparts Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo respectively fled the country for South Africa in May this year fearing for their lives, is clear testimony the security crisis needs serious attention.
On his part, ABC Secretary General Samonyane Ntsekele said the security situation deteriorated way before the 28 February 2015 snap election, which brought in Dr Mosisili’s administration and replaced Dr Thabane’s administration.
“In fact, the security crisis dates back to January 2014 when members of the LDF refused to assist the police with investigations over the bombings of the home of Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana in Ha Abia and those of Dr Thabane’s wife ‘MaIsiah Thabane (Liabiloe Ramoholi) and ‘Mamoletsane Moletsane in Moshoeshoe II.
“And then on 30 August 2014, the army attacked three police stations in Maseru, the house of Lt Gen Mahao, State House as well as Chief ‘Maseribane’s residence.
“We are thankful that SADC (Southern African Development Community) has made recommendations and plans to address the security situation in Lesotho and hope that unlike the previous mediation by Mr Cyril Ramaphosa (South African Deputy President), our security problems will be seriously looked into.
“After this new government came to power, Ntate Mosisili and his colleague, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, claimed that there was never a security problem in Lesotho, yet the opposite was true. So this stay-away is simply meant to put pressure on them to consider working hand-in-hand with SADC to resolve the crisis and not be arrogant in their dealings with the bloc.”
Ntsekele continued: “Just before the elections, there was a shootout between members of the army near the Royal Palace here in Maseru during which a private security guard on duty at a nearby building was killed. If Ntate Thabane and his ally in government then, Chief ‘Maseribane, had not been ignored when they raised alarm citing such incidents as examples of the security crisis in this country, the situation would have been brought under control at the time.
“Security has been the major problem in Lesotho over recent months, and the killing of prominent taxi-owner Thabiso Tšosane by unknown gunmen in May this year, which was followed by the 25 June shooting of former army commander Mahao by members of the LDF show that Lesotho is indeed, in a serious security crisis.
“Opposition parties can’t also overlook the fact that their leaders are out of the country and not because they want to, but due to threats on their lives. We will demonstrate our concerns until government hears our voices, and we will start with next week’s stay-away,” Mr Ntsekele said.
The opposition, Mr Ntsekele further said, had since lost confidence in SADC’s facilitation, which he said was keen on elections without addressing the issue of security first.
“The opposition has been clear that SADC failed Lesotho through Mr Ramaphosa’s facilitation and it is our hope that since he was appointed to the role again on Friday last week by the Double Troika, he will do much better this time around.”
He continued: “Before closing the SADC Mission offices in Maseru on 30 March 2015, Mr Ramaphosa promised a second phase of the mission to Lesotho but he never came. Now that he is back, we believe that he will be faithful and truthful to SADC and help bring stability to Lesotho.”