Opposition demands answers on Thabane involvement in murder

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Ntsebeng Motsoeli

OPPOSITION parties say they will make full use of tomorrow’s reopening of parliament to demand answers from Prime Minister Thomas Thabane concerning his and his wife, ‘Maesaiah’s alleged involvement in the June 2017 murder of the premier’s former wife, Lipolelo.

The parties said they would also discuss the possibility of filing a fresh no confidence motion against Dr Thabane as well as push for further amendments to the controversial 2018 wool and mohair regulations which allegedly impoverished farmers countrywide.

Parliament re-opens tomorrow almost three months after it was indefinitely adjourned last November. Although no reasons were provided for the move, it is widely believed that this was done to give Dr Thabane time to address a power struggle within his All Basotho Convention (ABC) which resulted in a no confidence motion being filed against him in June 2019.

The motion was filed by the ABC’s Koro-Koro legislator, Motebang Koma, and he was seconded by the DC deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa. The ABC no longer supports the motion and will not raise the issue when parliament re-opens tomorrow. This after Dr Thabane buried the hatchet with his ABC deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, and subsequently announced that he would soon step down as prime minister.

However, Mr Letsosa said it was still unclear when Dr Thabane would be stepping down and therefore the opposition would discuss the revival of the no confidence motion in parliament.

He said they would also demand answers regarding Dr Thabane and ‘Maesaiah’s alleged involvement in the 14 June 2017 murder of Lipolelo and attempted murder of her friend, Thato Sibolla. (See story on page 2).

“We will demand an explanation from the prime minister (Dr Thabane) about reports that his mobile phone was used to facilitate communication during the murder of Lipolelo,” Mr Letsosa told the Lesotho Times this week.

“He (Dr Thabane) also has to explain the controversial bail which was granted to his wife (‘Maesaiah by Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase on 5 February 2020),” Mr Letsosa said. (See story on page 4).

“He (Dr Thabane) will have to clarify to parliament if he is indeed retiring or not. He has to give a date for his departure. If he wants to retire or resign, he should just do so. And since he is still in office, the no confidence motion against him could still be revived with a different person proposing it,” Mr Letsosa said.

His sentiments were echoed by Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL) leader, Limpho Tau, who said the allegations of Dr Thabane and Maesaiah’s alleged involvement in the murder of Lipolelo warranted the premier’s resignation.

“This country has gone beyond the crossroads and it stands on the brink. The credibility of the leadership has been totally eroded and we expect the prime minister to resign. We cannot afford to have a situation where the leader of government is implicated in such a serious crime and just carry on with his duties as if nothing happened. The international community is looking at us and are probably wondering what kind of people we have as the first couple.

“The prime minister is the custodian of the constitution and one of his duties is to ensure that criminal acts are prosecuted. Failing to do so would be called a constitutional delinquency in a democratic country and we should not continue with him as the head of government,” Mr Tau said.

Shortly before the closure of parliament last November, the leader of the house, Deputy Prime Minister, Monyane Moleleki, announced that government had amended the 2018 wool and mohair regulations to allow farmers to sell their produce to buyers of their choice from anywhere in the world. Previously the farmers had been restricted to selling their produce through the Lesotho Wool Centre (LWC) in Thaba Bosiu which is controlled by Chinese businessman, Stone Shi.

The farmers bitterly opposed the regulations saying they resulted in delayed payments far less than what they earned before the enactment of the regulations when they freely sold their produce through South African brokers, BKB.

This week, Mr Letsosa said there was still a need for further amendments to remove the “heavy sales levies” which reduced farmers’ earnings from their produce.

“We want that issue to be sorted out. The amended regulations have also imposed heavy sales levies. We want that changed,” he said.

Under the new regulations, the broker is allowed to deduct a brokering commission of four percent, administration costs of 2, 5 percent as well as dipping levy costs at M1 per kilogramme for mohair and M0, 38 per kg for wool.

More deductions are allowed for insurance costs at less than one percent of the sales value and there are also testing costs at one percent of the sales value as well as government taxes.

“We had given the LWC 30 days to pay the farmers proceeds from the 2019 sales of their produce failing which government was mandated to pay the farmers. We will follow up on that because the 30 days are long gone and the farmers’ payments are long overdue now,” Mr Letsosa said.

Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has said his party will push for the creation of a government of national unity and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to stabilise the country and achieve reconciliation of all Basotho.

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