We will not be intimidated: Motsamai

 

Billy Ntaote

THE Lesotho Council of Nongovernmental Organisations (LCN) leadership yesterday vowed to continue lobbying for “peace and a stable democracy” regardless of allegations they betrayed the nation at the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held in Zimbabwe.

The LCN stands accused of plotting Lesotho’s failure to assume the chairmanship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation on Sunday by sending its leaders to the regional summit to draw attention to the country’s political and security challenges.

South Africa will now lead the Organ for the next 12 months, while Lesotho deputises and Namibia is the third member of the troika.

However, the LCN Executive Secretary, Seabata Motsamai says no amount of “propaganda” would deter civil society from carrying out its mandate of ensuring justice for all and good governance in Lesotho.

“We shall not be deterred; we are moving forward as Lesotho’s civil society to ensure our country has peace and a stable democracy. And if the intention was to deter us from doing our advocacy and lobbying, through making these false statements to taint our image, then it was an exercise in futility,” he said.

Mr Motsamai was referring to alleged announcements by the prime minister’s Press Secretary, Thabo Thakalekoala, on radio this week that LCN members had gone to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where the SADC summit was being held, to persuade regional leaders not to award the Organ’s chairmanship to Lesotho because the country was politically unstable.

Thakalekoala had also reportedly announced that apart from their lobbying against the appointment of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to chair the Organ, Mr Motsamai, Sofonea Shale and another unnamed LCN member had been deported from Zimbabwe for being in the country illegally.

Mr Motsamai is now demanding an apology from Mr Thakalekoala for the “falsehood”, failure of which he would face legal action.

“We were never deported from Zimbabwe, but came back on Friday last week as per our original scheduled. This information was meant to tarnish our image and intimidate us from carrying out our mandate as civil society. We only went to Zimbabwe to make sure the Lesotho political and security situation was told as it really is and not to tarnish the country’s image.

“But we will not be intimidated, and we will be demanding an apology from Thakalekoala, failure of which we will take legal action against him,” Mr Motsamai said.

The LCN, he added, would seek an audience with the new SADC chairperson, Robert Mugabe, to get an understanding of what the decision means for Lesotho, and what further action the regional bloc would take to help address the instability.

“We will be in Zimbabwe from 15 to 18 September to get a clear understanding of this decision. We will also engage the government of Lesotho and get its understanding of the SADC decision on our current political situation, and then we will take it from there”.

On his part, Mr Shale said: “I don’t really think there is any anger among Basotho about civil society going to Victoria Falls. What’s really there is a creation of the prime minister’s press secretary and what we hear from the people is the result of what he said on radio.

“The man speaks on behalf of the prime minister so people believe what he says, but this statement about our alleged arrest and deportation puts his credibility at risk.”

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Times could not get Mr Thakalekoala’s side of the story yesterday as he was said to be out of the country.

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