Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Tlohang Sekhamane and his Home Affairs counterpart Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane yesterday met with the leadership of the opposition alliance in Modderpoort, South Africa.
The meeting was organised by the government to discuss the return of opposition leaders living in exile in South Africa.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, and his Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) counterparts Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo , fled to South Africa in May last year claiming their lives were in danger.
Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) representatives, Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Adam Taaso of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and Reverend Tšeliso Masemene of the Lesotho Evangelical Church of Southern Africa.
Dr Thabane and Chief ‘Maseribane did not attend yesterday’s meeting but Ms Ms Rantšo was part of the RCL delegation, which also comprised deputy leader Dr Motloheloa Phooko, and secretary general ‘Mamolula Ntabe.
Dr Thabane told the Lesotho Times that he did not come to the meeting because the ABC executive agreed that since he was the subject of discussion, he should not attend, while Chief ‘Maseribane could not be reached for comment.
However, the ABC was represented by its deputy leader Tlali Khasu, secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele and chairperson Motlohi Maliehe in the meeting, while the BNP delegation comprised the party’s deputy leader Joang Molapo, chairperson Dr Nthabiseng Makoae and political consultant Professor Kopano Makoa.
When the Lesotho Times crew arrived at the meeting, the delegates were about to break for lunch, but they refused to speak about their discussions.
Mr Sekhamane said he could not say anything about the meeting because the discussions “are not yet complete.”
Advocate Rakuoane also refused to comment on the meeting as did the opposition alliance.
However, Ms Rantšo later told the Lesotho Times that the delegates resolved that Dr Thabane, Chief ‘Maseribane and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili should attend the next meeting.
Ms Rantšo said: “I cannot go into details of the meeting but what I can tell you is that we could not come up with a plan of action because of the absence of Ntate Thabane, Ntate ‘Maseribane, and Ntate Mosisili. The two government representatives at the meeting, Ntate Sekhamane and Ntate Rakuoane, said they will report to Ntate Mosisili and get back to us to confirm the date of the next meeting. The opposition also agreed to do the same with Ntate Thabane and Ntate ‘Maseribane.”
According to letters written by Government Secretary (GS) Lebohang Ramohlanka dated 29 February 2016, and addressed to ABC, RCL and BNP secretary generals, the meeting followed last month’s visit to Mozambique and Botswana by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
In her letter, copied to Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson and Botswana President Ian Khama, chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, SADC Facilitator to Lesotho and SA Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and SADC Executive Secretary Dr Lawrence Stergomena Tax, Ms Ramohlanka noted: “This serves to invite the leader of your political party to the meeting referred to above which will be held at Modderpoort near Ladybrand in the Republic of South Africa, on 2 March 2016, starting at 11am. Leaders are expected to be accompanied at this meeting by two members of their political party.
“The government of Lesotho initiates this meeting following meetings held between the envoy of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister, in the person of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, and his delegation, with the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, and His Honour Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice-President of the Republic of Botswana, and his delegation, on behalf of the chairperson of SADC, His Excellency Lt-Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana.
“Discussions will focus on the steps that need to be taken to enable these leaders who are outside the country to come back home to Lesotho.
“Please note that the government has invited the Christian Council of Lesotho to send a representative to this meeting.”