The year 2015 will go down as one of the most eventful in the history of the Mountain Kingdom. From an early parliamentary election that resulted in the change of government to the fatal shooting of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao by his military colleagues, 2015 is a year most Basotho would be happy that it has finally come to an end.
The Lesotho Times chronicles some of the major highlights of the year.
January 14: The High Court rules that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife, Lipolelo, is the country’s official First Lady and also that she be immediately afforded all the benefits that come with her position, among them a chauffeur-driven government vehicle and a bodyguard.
Jan 15: King’s Counsel Kananelo Mosito is confirmed as Court of Appeal president.
Feb 25: Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing loses court bid to block the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) from investigating him for possible corruption.
Feb 28: Basotho go to an early election brokered by SADC in a bid to restore order and stability following a coup attempt on 30 August 2014, which forced Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to briefly seek refuge in South Africa. The coup was staged as the fallout between coalition government leaders, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of the All Basotho Convention, his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane of the Basotho National Party, deepened.
March 4: Seven parties form a coalition government after the 28 February polls had failed to produce a majority winner. Dr Thabane and his coalition relinquish power, but Mr Metsing stays on after his LCD joined the Democratic Congress(DC), Popular Front for Democracy(PFD), Basotho Congress Party(BCP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and National Independent Party (NIP) in the new government.
March 9: Members of the 9th session of parliament of #Lesotho sits today for swearing-in of 120 members elected #28Feb2015. To elect Speaker and Deputy. #sabcnews 9th Parliament are sworn in. 9th session of parliament of #Lesotho sits today for swearing-in of 120 members elected #28Feb2015. To elect Speaker and Deputy. #sabcnews9th session of parliament of #Lesotho sits today for swearing-in of 120 members elected #28Feb2015. To elect Speaker and Deputy. #sabcnews9th session of parliament of #Lesotho sits today for swearing-in of 120 members elected #28Feb2015. To elect Speaker and Deputy. #sabcnews9th session of parliament of #Lesotho sits today for swearing-in of 120 members elected #28Feb2015. To elect Speaker and Deputy. #sabcnews9th session of parliament of #Lesotho sits today for swearing-in of 120 members elected #28Feb2015. To elect Speaker and Deputy. #sabcnews
March 17: DC leader Dr Pakalitha Mosisili is sworn in as Prime Minister. Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli returns from leave of absence.
March 30: Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator and South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa closed down the SADC Facilitation Mission in Maseru. The mission had been established to coordinate Lesotho’s road to stability culminating in the 28 February polls.
April 2: Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana and Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao return from leave of absence. The leave, which had begun in November 2014, was brokered by SADC to ensure Lesotho went to the elections without threats of violence from the police and army, whose feuding had been sparked by feuding between the three security chiefs.
April 14: Top lawyers take on Advocate Mosito and write him a scathing letter. Salemane Phafane, Motiea Teele, Karabo Mohau, Zwelakhe Mda (all King’s Counsel) and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika accused Justice Mosito of “using the weight of his office to bring internal matters of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into the public domain, and politicising them”.
In response, Justice Mosito criticised Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe for “ill-advising” the Commission, which he believed led to the rejection of the four judges he had proposed to hear cases in the 2015 first session of the Court of Appeal scheduled for 20 April to 5 May.
May 8: Ninth National Assembly reconvenes following its indefinite suspension in April.
May 9: Prominent businessman and ABC supporter Thabiso Tšosane is gunned down in Maseru. His sudden death left the country shocked and hundreds of his dependents in the cold and wondering what the future held for them now that ‘the good Samaritan’ was gone too soon at only 45 years of age.
May 11: Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Dr Thomas Motsoahae Thabane flees the country for South Africa fearing for his life.
May 13: BNP leader Thesele Maseribane also flees for SA fearing for his life.
May 21: A Government Gazette appoints Lt-Gen Kamoli as LDF commander and backdates the appointment to 29 August 2014. Another gazette is issued on the same date terminating Lt-Gen Mahao’s appointment as army commander.
May 26: RCL leader Keketso Rantšo also flees and seeks refuge in South Africa saying she feared for her life.
May 26: Defence and National Security Minister, Tšeliso Mokhosi, tells parliament that government had uncovered a mutiny plot in the LDF.
June 25: Basotho are shocked as they learn of the untimely death of Lt-Gen Mahao. Lt-Gen Mahao was gunned down by LDF members in his Mokema village on the outskirts of Maseru, allegedly as he ressted arrest for suspected mutiny.
June 26: Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) walk out of the august house, claiming that their issues of concern including security and the killing of Lt-Gen Mahao were being overlooked. They demanded that the House be given a full account of Mahao’s killing by government.
July 15: Minister of Energy Selibe Mochoboroane warns of severe drought and the need for Lesotho to adapt to extreme climatic conditions. The minister said this was going to be the driest and hottest weather in 43 years.
July 22: Lesotho Sun and Maseru Sun are rebranded to Avani Lesotho Hotel & Casino and Avani Maseru Hotel respectively during a glittering ceremony held at the newly-named Avani Maseru Convention Centre.
The rebranding followed last year’s deal in which global gaming and resorts giants, Sun International divested from the two hotels and sold them to Thailand-based firm, Minor Hotel Group (MHG).
Aug 20: Lesotho’s High Commissioner to South Africa ‘Malejaka Letooane, Johannesburg Consul-General, Mophethe Sekamane, Durban Consul-General Lerato Tšosane and High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr ’Mabaphuthi Moorosi Molapo are recalled by the government, bringing the number of returnees to eight alongside Bothata Tsikoane (India), Felleng Makeka (United Kingdom), Sempe Lejaha (Italy) and Nkopane Monyane (Switzerland), who had been recalled earlier. They were all told to wind-up their business and be at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Headquarters on 9 November.
Aug 31: The SADC Commission of Inquiry into Lt-Gen Mahao’s shooting kick-starts at the State Library, with Colonel Sechele being the first on the stand. The Commission was led by Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi.
Sep 7: Court of Appeal President, Justice Kananelo Mosito, files an urgent application before the Constitutional Court seeking an order to block a criminal case of allegedly failing to pay tax for his law firm.
Oct 6: ABC leader Dr Thomas Thabane appears before the Phumaphi Commission in Thaba-Nchu in the Free State, South Africa. He testifies in camera.
Oct 13: Public transport operators demand the termination of a six-month contract government had signed with South Africa’s Bidvest Car Rental. Bidvest was replacing Avis Fleet Lesotho—a subsidiary of Seahlolo Transport Logistics (Pty) Ltd—who relationship with the government ended suddenly amid allegations and counter-accusations of fraud. The two had been in partnership since 2007.
Oct 21: Double ritual murder suspect Lehlohonolo Scott is extradited and arrives in Lesotho amid tight security and jostling by members of the public who wanted a close look at the infamous 30-year-old Koalabata resident. Scott (28) escaped from Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012 while awaiting trial for the alleged murder of fellow Koalabata residents Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and June 2012, respectively.
He had been arrested on 12 July 2012 alongside his mother ’Malehlohonolo, following the discovery of Seetsa and Mohata’s mutilated bodies in Koalabata.
Oct 22: Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Political Advisor, Fako Likoti, says the opposition bloc’s continued boycott of parliament could result in the holding of by-elections in their constituencies. He says 41 of the opposition parties’ 55 directly elected parliamentary seats would be in jeopardy should the MPs fail to pitch up when the legislature reconvened on 30 October 2015. The other 14 seats were awarded by a proportional representation system.
Nov 11: Four prominent doctors, Dr Piet McPherson, Dr Ntšinyi Makoa, Dr Mokiba Rathebe and Dr Cheng are accused of dispensing expired drugs. The expired medication is seized.
Nov 12: Basotho learn that the government has paid M32 million to First National Bank (FNB) which members of the Eighth Parliament still owed the institution when their term of office prematurely ended in March this year. The legislators qualified for M500 000 interest-free loans from the bank as part of their benefits, and were supposed to repay the money over five years. The government underwrote the loans and also paid interest on behalf of the MPs.
Dec 15: The results of an autopsy of the late Lt-Gen Mahao are leaked. They reveal that his body had eleven wounds ‘caused by high-velocity military type weapons’.
Dec 22: Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili declares a state of drought emergency and appeals for aid from development partners.