‘It is about time we put a stop to this nonsense of criminals whose intention is to destabilise the nation’, says deputy premier.
Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Mothetjoa Metsing has condemned “lies” doing the rounds in Maseru and on social media linking him with an alleged plot to assassinate Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader told a press conference held on Tuesday in Maseru that the allegations are unfounded and also meant to destabilise the country.
The Church has since issued a statement condemning the alleged threats to “eliminate” Archbishop Lerotholi, but according to Mr Metsing, he had nothing to do with the conspiracy if ever it existed.
“I have been made aware and notified about lies being spread on the internet that I, together with some people believed to be aligned to me, met at some place called Protea – I think it’s Protea Hotel (in South Africa) – where it is said that we planned to end the life of Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi.
“This propaganda goes further to say, at the same place, there was a lot of money involved, which we were also planning to give members of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) Commission investigating the death of Ntate Maaparankoe Mahao, as a bribe.
“The lies went on to say that this past weekend, there was also a mission, which I was part of, to arrest more soldiers in Quthing district. The soldiers, according to this rumourmill, were supposed to be arrested at the Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) in Quthing.
“Now, I have called this gathering today to inform you and the entire nation that these allegations that I was part of a conspiracy to end the life of Archbishop Lerotholi, are not true. I have never been to such a place (Protea), and I have never been part of such a conspiracy.”
Mr Metsing said “for a long time” lies have been told about him.
“The lies have been going on for a long time about me but I did not bother to call a meeting like this to respond. But today, I decided to come and set the record straight because this has gone too far especially now that there is the life of a very significant figure, the Archbishop of Maseru being mentioned.
“This time, I could no longer sit back and say nothing. The Archbishop is a very dignified person in this country; he is an important figure in the lives of many Basotho. He is a person of immense responsibilities and you all know about his hard work and efforts to ensure there is peace and stability in this country.
“He has intervened in political issues bothering this country and also facilitated to harmonise relations between us politicians. And by looking carefully at this rumour, I have realised that the people behind it really want to destabilise this country. They are doing this to create confusion in Lesotho and polarise this nation. And this should be taken seriously as an act that can lead this country to chaos.
“We are already in a state of crisis in this country, but this can lead to more crises. SADC has just promised to send a delegation to Lesotho to facilitate peace. And I want to tell you that even those people nominated by SADC to come to Lesotho for the task are not yet known to the government of this country. We do not know who they are, but some people are already spreading lies that they know those people and that we have already bribed them by giving out money.
“About the soldiers who are said to be arrested, why do these people choose the LEC church as a place where these soldiers would be arrested?”
The deputy premier warned those “spreading the lies” to stop.
“It is about time we put a stop to this nonsense of criminals whose intention is to destabilise the nation.
“And for me, I would like to pronounce to the entire nation that those allegations are unfounded and therefore, untrue.
“I also cannot run away from the fact that as the deputy prime minister, I should, on behalf His Majesty’s government, stand here today to warn these people who are spreading lies to refrain from doing so. I am also appealing to all national security agencies to be aware that these people have taken a very dangerous route.
“We should come together to bring to justice, these criminals whose intention is to destabilise the nation by painting this picture that we have bad governance in Lesotho. We appeal to the nation to calm down because what is being spread is nothing but baseless allegations and blatant lies.
“Just when I came back from a cabinet meeting today, I received messages that it was being reported that I had fled the country as I feared for my life. And I am saying this information is being spread by some criminals we have in this country. They are out of order and the public should be careful of what they say.”
Asked if he had taken any legal action against his detractors, Mr Metsing said: “The government is still on a mission to bring back peace and stability to our country. We are aware that because government mentioned right from the onset that it was dedicated to restoring peace and stability, these criminals have therefore, been on a mission to cause chaos.
“It is unfortunate because these criminals are doing this intentionally. As government, we are trying as much as possible to resolve political problems facing this country.
“You will be aware that this time around, unlike in the previous coalition government which I was also part of, the problem we have does not emanate from government. In the past, the government was a problem itself so much that the coalition (comprising the LCD, All Basotho Convention and Basotho National Party) had to collapse and early elections called (on 28 February 2015 instead of the original 2017).
“But this time, the government will emerge victorious because it has always stuck to the principles of truth and peace.
“Yes, I have reported this matter to the police and at the moment, I am also looking at the law to see how it protects me against defamation of character. I will take action against these criminals based on guidelines set out by law.”