They want me dead: Moleleki
AS the internecine war within the Democratic Congress (DC) escalates, the party’s deputy leader Monyane Moleleki has alleged a plot to kill him before the re-opening of Parliament next week.
Mr Moleleki — who is also the Minister of Police — made the sensational claim while addressing scores of supporters during a rally in his Machache constituency on Sunday.
He also waded into the government’s fleet service project, which is among issues threatening to tear the DC apart, saying the contract to run the state’s vehicle fleet should be awarded to a local joint venture company fighting the government’s decision to award it to a South African firm, Bidvest Fleet Company.
The usually reticent Mr Moleleki made the remarks as the DC – the largest partner in the seven-party coalition government – is on the brink of a split due to escalating factionalism. Two distinct factions have emerged in the DC, with Lithope (loosely translated to girlfriends) linked to party leader and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Lirurubele (butterflies) linked to Mr Moleleki.
The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) last Friday broke ranks with the government over its decision to award a vehicle fleet contract to Bidvest Fleet Company.
They accused DC treasurer and Finance Minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla of disregarding due process in cancelling the tender at the expense of the joint venture company comprising Fleet Service Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions (Pty) Ltd that had been recommended for the contract.
The feud over the lucrative tender, administered by a ministry run by the DC itself, is seen as ample evidence the main coalition government party is at war with itself.
Mr Moleleki said “some people” wanted him dead because they thought he was working to topple the Dr Mosisili-led coalition government. He did not mention those behind a plot to kill him, but it was clear he was referring to his detractors within his DC and other coalition government parties.
“Let me tell you a top secret. Some citizens of this country have decided that by 7 October when parliament reconvenes following the winter vacation, I should have been assassinated,” Mr Moleleki said without elaborating.
“If I were to die, it would not be in vain because I would have left you with an important message of unity and reconciliation and ending the marginalisation we have had in our politics for the past 50 years.”
Mr Moleleki accused some of his DC colleagues of frantically plotting against him due to “unfounded” fears he sought a no-confidence motion against Dr Mosisili when parliament reconvenes on Friday next week .
“It is shocking that people in Maseru are on high alert as speculation is rife that on 7 October we are going to topple the government when parliament reconvenes,” he said.
“You should know we are not going to topple the government; they should stop making these frivolous accusations.
“There is no reason for some people to be going up and down seeking support from our rivals over unfounded speculation that Moleleki is going to topple government.”
Mr Moleleki spoke amid accusations by his detractors that he is working with the opposition in an attempt to force a no confidence motion against Dr Mosisili. Mr Moleleki’s detractors say he is now impatient for his turn to become premier and would do anything to sabotage Dr Mosisili, allegations the Police Minister vehemently denies.
However, sources say should Mr Moleleki’s faction decide to pursue the no-confidence motion, it could easily master the majority to achieve such a feat as long as it mobilised support from the opposition. Mr Moleleki’s Lirurubele faction commands the loyalty of 23 MPs out of the 47 DC MPs. If Mr Moleleki were to team up with Thomas Thabane’s ABC, which has 46 MPs, as is being alleged by the Police Minister’s detractors, then Lirurubele would easily command the majority to unseat Dr Mosisili. Regardless of what the seven party coalition agreement says, a prime minister in Lesotho is constitutionally anointed by a majority of MPs as per the Kingdom’s Westminster parliamentary system. Mr Moleleki’s political enemies nevertheless doubt the durability of any pact between the Police Minister and Dr Thabane.
“It won’t work. It will be like having two bulls in the same room….A spectacular clash of egos,” said a senior politician speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The question is who would become prime minister. Thabane will see it as his entitlement while Moleleki is too impatient for the top job. However, politics is politics and nothing should ever be ruled out. We now face a very crunch test. If this coalition survives the month of October, then it will last for the duration of its term until 2020.”
It is perhaps because of fears by his opponents that his faction will mount a bid to unseat Dr Mosisili that partly informs Mr Moleleki’s fears of a plot to kill him even before Parliament opens.
Some of his detractors have also raised the tempo with Bokang Ramatsella, who staged a march two Sundays back in support of Dr Mosisili and the PM’s allies in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) calling for Mr Moleleki to be axed from cabinet (see separate story on Page 7)
Mr Moleleki also told his rally he was encountering “many challenges” in discharging his duties, including being instructed by some government officials to order the selective arrests of their opponents.
“The person appointed by Ntate Mosisili to develop the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is called Monyane Moleleki. My job is to make sure the police have resources to do their work. I am also supposed to ensure their accommodation and welfare needs are taken care of,” he said.
“There has never been a day that I instructed the police to go and arrest someone. It is wrong for a political authority to give instructions to the police to arrest certain people.”
Mr Moleleki said his role was akin to that of a chef, who did not need anybody to tell him how to prepare food in his own kitchen.
“When I am cooking this pot (police), I hear someone whispering Mokola on my shoulder saying I have not added certain spices to the dish I am cooking,” he said.
“Such people want to instruct the police on how to do their work. It is like saying I have not added certain spices to a pot when I am supposed to be the sole cook. It should be clear that I am the one responsible for cooking this dish. The LMPS’s affairs are my sole responsibility as Police minister.”
Mr Moleleki also implored the police to avoid being drawn into “our intra-party and inter-party political squabbles”.
“I should never say to the police go and arrest a member of the RCL (Reformed Congress of Lesotho), a member of the BNP (Basotho National Party) or even a member of the ABC (All Basotho Convention). That should not be happening,” he said.
“There should never be someone standing over my shoulder telling me who to grant a permit to hold marches and who not to. It is not correct to do so.”
Mr Moleleki said he had been instructed by “some people” to order the police to stop the DC NEC’s press conference last Friday by demanding a permit for the event. The press conference was continually interrupted by the police who demanded a permit. However, the DC NEC officials refused to budge, saying a press conference did not require the police’s permission.
During the DC NEC’s press conference, party Deputy Secretary-General Refiloe Litjobo said the country was now enduring a “heavy and unsustainable” burden of transport services from the Bidvest deal, “which appears to have been awarded the contract without having followed due process, as mandated by Procurement Regulation of 2007”.
“This unfortunate episode has adversely affected the fiscus, disturbed the economic equilibrium by overstretching the already high budget deficit by an additional three percent of the gross domestic product,” said Mr Litjobo.
“This leaves a very dark cloud hanging over the nation’s economic and financial health.”
Echoing the DC NEC’s sentiments, Mr Moleleki said the government, through the Finance Ministry, erred in its decision to withdraw the government fleet service tender and to change the terms of the contract leading to its awarding to Bidvest Fleet Company.
“There are people who wanted to conceal certain issues that were being said during our NEC’s press conference. They demanded for the DC NEC to have a permit to hold a press conference,” he said.
“They are coming to whisper on my shoulder demanding that I arrest certain people and interrogate them on where they got information that the fleet tender was corruptly awarded.”
The DC deputy leader added: “The pertinent issue here is whether there is a case of corruption or not. The question of where the whistle-blowers got information about the allegedly corrupt deal is immaterial.
“They should come and arrest me here today because I am saying Lebelonyane won the tender fairly and defeated them so it should be given the tender.”
Mr Moleleki also touched on the 18 September 2016 protest march organised by outspoken politician Bokang Ramatšella and meant to show solidarity with the coalition government and army commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli among others.
The DC deputy leader said he refused to attend the march because the organisers “were out of order”.
“The appointments of the army commander and police commissioner are the sole responsibility and prerogative of the prime minister of Lesotho,” he said.
“This country’s army belongs to every citizen. And the army commander is appointed by Basotho through the prime minister only and not anybody else. If ever I get to say I am going to show confidence in the army commander, it means I am out of order.
“The people who were saying they were going to show their support for the army commander on radio stations were out of order.”
Mr Moleleki also called for a “new thinking” as Lesotho celebrates 50 years of independence.
“We should stop marginalising one another and name calling. If someone is an ABC member, approach them and accept defeat if they defeated you in the previous elections,” he said.
“Let us have fair play in our politics. When we celebrate independence, we should do so with one objective of ensuring the stability and the unity of this country.”