Why we fled Lesotho
. . . ABC MPs Monyake and Litšiba speak out
By Billy Ntaote
MASERU — Two All Basotho Convention (ABC) Members of Parliament (MP), Mophato Monyake and Thabiso Litšiba, fled to South Africa late last month after receiving death threats.
In separate interviews with the Lesotho Times from their South African hideouts, the legislators said they were threatened with death after pronouncing their allegiance to the Parliamentary Working Alliance of Parties and Individual MPs, which seeks to pass a no-confidence vote on the government.
Monyake, who was fired as Justice and Correctional Services minister in February, is an MP for the Stadium Area Constituency, while Litšiba represents Koro-Koro in the National Assembly.
“After I was dismissed from cabinet, all sorts of claims were leveled against me, among them that I wanted to form a new party,” Monyake said.
“That is why I then decided to hold a rally in my constituency in March to set the record straight. I was then approached by an informant who told me about the death threats made against me.
“I took that tip-off seriously and reported it to the police.
“The bottom line is I don’t have confidence in the coalition government anymore, hence my decision to join the grand coalition in parliament.
“After signing that I was now part of the grand coalition, I also learned that a lot of people were angry with that decision, and even wanted to force me to resign my position as an MP.
“I reported this again to the police and then decided I should leave the country and assess the situation from a secure location. That is why I am here at my house in Bloemfontein; I will stay here until given the protection I requested from the police.
“I have also written to the Speaker of Parliament to inform him about my situation.”
Monyake said what he cannot understand is why his decision to align himself with the “grand alliance” stoked so much anger.
“Ntate Mokhehle (former Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle) and even Ntate Thabane formed new parties through floor-crossing.
“Is it a sin when it’s Monyake who says koloi ea kobo-tata e khelohile tseleng (loosely translated to mean the ABC vehicle has been derailed)?” he said.
Monyake further alleged the coalition government is only benefitting the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), and not the other partners, the ABC and Basotho National Party (BNP).
“By 2017, the LCD would have gained a lot. They are selfishly developing their own party at the expense of the coalition partners.
“This coalition is not benefitting our party and I cannot continue to be part of such an alliance.
“The LCD controls ministries such as local government and public works and construction, which directly employ ordinary citizens of our country. In turn, the LCD has slowly endeared itself to the people through employment, so by the next general election in 2017, this party would have gained a lot of goodwill because of this,” Monyake said.
His dream, Monyake added, is to work with people who share a similar vision with him “as opposed to those who are just in a marriage of convenience”.
“I’m still the Stadium Area constituency MP and my desire is to see this area developed. I was born and bred in the Stadium Area and, as an MP, my role is to serve the people of that area without any political bias whatsoever.”
Monyake said his request is to be granted protection and that the Speaker of the National Assembly should be aware of his political situation.
“I’ve not received any response from the Speaker even though I included my contact details in my letter.”
Litšiba, who said he was speaking from Gauteng, yesterday also confirmed he was part of the “grand coalition” with Monyake, which is behind a vote-of-no-confidence motion which has since been submitted to parliament.
Speaking about his move to South Africa, Litšiba said: “What happened was on 10 March, I left to attend a parliamentary workshop in Gauteng, and I was shocked to learn that two days later, on March 12, my wife had found two bullets on our doorstep.
“The bullets were in an envelope, and after that incident, I realised that my life was in danger.”
Litšiba said his decision to join the coalition came after realising the Thabane-led government “cannot bring meaningful change to ordinary Basotho”.
“We even saw recently a certain minister (name withheld) alluding that there were problems with our coalition partners, so I didn’t understand why the uproar when we showed we had no confidence in the coalition government.”
Litšiba further said he had since realised he cannot return to Lesotho and would stay in Gauteng “until the dust settles”.
“I decided to stay here in Gauteng and write to the Speaker informing him that I fear for my life as I have received death threats,” he said.
“If tomorrow I am told that my security is guaranteed, I will return home without any hesitation.”
Contacted for comment, the parliament’s Deputy Speaker, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane confirmed receiving both Monyake and Litšiba’s letters informing the house about their “situations”.
“Now that they have submitted the letters, they should fill forms that require their absence to be granted after their parties have signed the forms, together with the Speaker.
“What is problematic is that we don’t know the grand coalition or the alliance as it’s not yet formally established in parliament and we don’t know who its whip is,” Rakuoane said.
In the meantime, Rakuoane said the letters would be referred to parliament’s Code of Conduct, Immunities and Privileges Committee.
“The committee is going to investigate whether there have been any breaches of the law by the MPs.”
Contacted last night for comment, police spokesperson Senior Inspector Lebona Mohloboli said: “As the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, we do not have any reports about such issues.
- “None of those two people came to us, either on their own or together to report any threats made against them.”