…also condemn Chief Khoabane Theko for attacking government
Youth leaders of the seven political parties in government have dismissed as “mere propaganda” widespread allegations of threats on the life of Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).
The youths—from the Democratic Congress (DC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), National Independent Party (NIP), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD)—told a media briefing on Tuesday that the alleged death threats were the work of opposition parties out to discredit the government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
“We urge Archbishop Lerotholi to open his eyes and look into the source of the threats on his life. We also urge his colleagues in the church to strive towards establishing who the people behind the threats are,” said LCD Youth League deputy spokesperson Potso Shao.
Last Friday, the RCC issued a statement expressing concern after learning of the alleged threats amidst heinous murders and political instability in Lesotho. Unknown assailants shot and killed prominent businessman Thabiso Tšosane in May, while former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao was fatally shot last month by soldiers who had come to arrest him for allegedly being part of a plot to overthrow the army command. Former prime minister and leader of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) Thomas Thabane, his Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) counterparts Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo respectively, fled the country for South Africa in May this year claiming their lives were in danger, which the Church said was disturbing.
Read the RCC statement: “The current state of affairs in the country is worrying, more especially because now it seems it will affect Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi’s life.
“His life seems to be in danger based on recent allegations of threats made on his life. As priests of the RCC, we appeal to the masterminds behind this unfortunate plan to reconsider and stop it with immediate effect.”
However, the youth leaders insisted allegations that the Archbishop was in danger were part of a smear campaign by the opposition against the coalition government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
“They are against this coalition government and will do everything in their power to destroy its good reputation by targeting the RCC because they know a large number of Basotho are members of the church,” DC Youth League leader Mosala Mojakisane said.
“They are aware that because the RCC enjoys a huge following, scores of Basotho will desert our congress parties if Archbishop Lerotholi was to die.”
Asked about their plans to avert any possible harm on Archbishop Lerotholi, Mojakisane said: “We will try to establish the authenticity of the threats, and thereafter, consult with our government with a view to secure protection for Archbishop Lerotholi because he is a leader and deserves to be safe.”
Meanwhile, during the same briefing, the youths slammed Thaba-Bosiu Principal Chief Khoabane Theko “for his active participation in politics and support of the opposition”. Chief Theko was also under fire for speaking out against Dr Mosisili’s government and also blaming the DC leader for the death of Brigadier Mahao.
“We are also embarrassed by some of our chiefs who seem to be actively participating in politics, in particular Chief Khoabane Theko of Thaba-Bosiu,” Shao said.
“His continued resolve to speak badly about Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, and wrongfully blaming him for Ntate Mahao’s death, amounts to incitement of violence.
“We therefore reprimand Chief Khoabane Theko for his reckless allegations and also spit on them because they are not acceptable. We appeal to him to abandon the chieftaincy and join politics. He is out of order and needs to be put in his place.”
Contacted for comment on Tuesday, Chief Theko told the Lesotho Times that if his job involved speaking to politicians, he would “always adopt a political tone” when addressing them.
“I am not a politician but a chief. However, whenever I speak to politicians, I will always adopt a political tone to put my message across. Politics affect the whole nation,” Chief Theko said.
“Secondly, they did not make me a chief. By the way, how do they interpret politics? It is my social responsibility to speak out and conscientise people whenever there are issues affecting them.”
Chief Theko maintained that Brigadier Mahao’s death should be blamed on Dr Mosisili because he was allegedly warned by the Southern African Development Community and South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who facilitated Lesotho’s 28 February 2015 snap elections that brought the DC leader to power, against reinstating Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as LDF commander. Lt Gen Kamoli had been fired by Dr Thabane in August last year for alleged insubordination, but was restored in May this year by the Dr Mosisili-led government which simultaneously removed Brigadier Mahao as army boss. The government also demoted him from Lieutenant General to Brigadier at the same time.
“If he had not reinstated Kamoli, Mahao’s death would never have happened. He is to blame because he failed to heed the advice he was given,” Chief Theko said.