…demands end of “persecution” of his supporters
LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has threatened to cause mayhem unless the government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane ends what he describes as the continued persecution of his supporters.
Mr Metsing’s controversial remarks are contained in an audio clip recorded during the former Deputy Prime Minister’s 51st birthday celebrations in Ladybrand, South Africa, this week.
The Lesotho Times has a copy of the clip in which Mr Metsing states that his party would solicit help from unspecified sources “everywhere” to ensure its supporters defends themselves against what he perceives as the continued persecution from the Thabane coalition. He proceeds to threaten destructive conflict in Lesotho unless the “persecution” and “prosecutions” of his supporters are halted.
Mr Metsing also took the opportunity of his birthday celebrations to outline the conditions for his return to Lesotho to participate in the multi-sectoral reform process kick-started by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Mr Metsing has been holed up in the neighbouring country after fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him.
The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that Mr Metsing fled to escape prosecution for corruption.
Mr Metsing said that his party’s patience with the government was fast running out as the police continued to “target defenseless LCD supporters” whom he said would now be forced to defend themselves.
He said he had already asked SADC to intervene to end the “persecution” and “prosecutions” of his supporters. He was also asking the current coalition of Dr Thabane for legitimate dialogue to achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho.
“I can go everywhere to ask for assistance if need arises for us to protect ourselves and that it why I am praying hard that we help ourselves by showing these people that it is in our collective interest to follow peaceful ways because any other path will ensure that Lesotho is reduced to nothing.
“We will not always cry. The LCD supporters will not continue to cry when I am still their leader or be expected to just keep quiet. Our request is that the other parties must work with us to normalise the situation and we have told SADC that a peaceful and stable path is the only one for Lesotho because the other one will reduce Lesotho to nothing.
“The situation was the same when (former Prime Minister) Ntate Ntsu Mokhehle went into the bush (in the 1970s to challenge the-then Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan) and came back with fighting sticks.
“None of us want us to go back to such sad days that Lesotho once found itself in,” Mr Metsing said at the celebrations, also attended by Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane, Democratic Congress (DC) Deputy Secretary Tlohang Sekhamane and representatives of the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).
The DC, PFD and MFP were part of the former seven parties’ coalition, alongside Mr Metsing’s LCD, from 2015 until they lost the 3 June 2017 snap elections.
Their coalition was replaced by a four party alliance of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Alliance of Democrats (AD), the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
While warning that his party’s patience was running out, Mr Metsing said they would continue to ask Dr Thabane’s coalition for dialogue for the sake of sustainable peace and suitability.
But he also warned that they would not waste time on dialogue which did not yield concrete results.
“We do not want to engage in unproductive dialogue. That is our plea to SADC . . . We do not wish to reach the point where we say enough is enough, let us protect ourselves,” he said.
He said dialogue would be meaningless if he and the likes of former army commander, Retired Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, continued to be “victims of politically motivated charges”.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is currently detained at the Maseru Maximum Prison awaiting trial for a plethora of murder and attempted murder charges.
Lt-Gen Kamoli and Mr Metsing were known to be very close. When Dr Thabane fled Lesotho in the wake of the 30 August 2014 coup attempt against his first coalition government, in which Mr Metsing served as Deputy Prime Minister, the latter remained in the country and renounced Dr Thabane’s dismissal of Lt-Gen Kamoli and replacement with the slain Maaparankoe Mahao.
“The politically motivated prosecutions must stop for us to come back,” Mr Metsing told dozens of his supporters at the party.
“Today the people realise that the M53 million charge was nothing but a political charge and we are saying such charges must be stopped until we have completed the reforms and dialogue processes,” he added.
This was in reference to the theft and fraud charges involving M53 million preferred against him in 2014. The money was meant for the procurement and insurance of equipment for the Maseru City Council. However, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Leaba Thetsane, who was also seen as Mr Metsing’s staunch supporter, withdrew the case from the courts saying it was lodged behind his back.
Mr Metsing said he would gladly appear in court over this and other charges after the completion of the multi-sector reforms process, safe in the knowledge that the judiciary would not be influenced by politicians and that police investigations and prosecutions would not have political motives.
He also listed as one of the conditions for his return, the setting up of a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the 5 September 2017 killing of army commander, Lt-Gen Khoantle Motšomotšo and his colleagues Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.
The government has since concluded that Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was shot dead by Brigadier Sechele who was accompanied by Colonel Hashatsi and a third officer on that fateful day at Ratjomose Barracks.
The three are said to have confronted Lt-Gen Motšomotšo to challenge him over his decisions to handover soldiers to police for prosecution over their past crimes as demanded by SADC. Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi were then shot dead by Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards in the fracas that ensued.
However, Mr Metsing this week demanded that all the deaths be investigated, saying as the country was embarking on security reforms, it was important to know what was actually happening in the LDF.
“As leaders we need to question why this matter has been taken lightly because we are going to embark on the security reforms and we need to know what is happening in the LDF.
“The government might be telling the truth on events of that day but we need to have an independent commission that will unearth what really happened.”
He also demanded the setting up of a Government of National Unity to include the parties that are currently in the opposition as well as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and an impartial independent prosecuting authority.
Mr Metsing also demanded the reinstatement of National Security Service agents who were employed by the former seven parties’ coalition government in which he served as deputy to former Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili.
He also demanded that the Thabane coalition reverses its decision to rescind police promotions made by his previous coalition.
“The police officers who were promoted under our regime were demoted and there are many others in the public service who have since lost their jobs. What kind of leaders would we be if we don’t stand for the rights of these people? This issue must be dealt with to ensure that these Basotho are absorbed back into the system.”
Mr Metsing also said that it was wrong for the government to withhold his benefits as a former deputy prime minister as well as his salary as a legislator for the Mahobong constituency.
He said this had caused him untold suffering which had only been alleviated by party supporters who took care of his needs.
Yesterday, Mr Metsing did not answer calls to his mobile phone or respond to messages from this publication requesting a comment on his remarks which the Thabane government has dismissed as treasonous.
Meanwhile, LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, yesterday told this publication that Mr Metsing spoke in Sesotho which was so clear in its meaning that it was self-explanatory.
“This is clear, Sesotho ha se tolokoe (loosely translated to mean that Sesotho does not need to be translated) and Ntate Metsing is telling the truth that we will go everywhere to ask for assistance but we are not yet in a position to do so.
“Indeed we will go everywhere to seek assistance so that we can defend ourselves but we are saying we don’t need to go that route. The government must stop prosecuting our members.
“We have friends all over the world- political parties that are governing in their countries and we can ask for their assistance. For example, we are friends with the governing parties in Botswana and China. We are also members of the Socialist Initiative with many others like the African National Congress (of South Africa),” Mr Sekata said.
He also said that a commission of inquiry into the deaths of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo, Brigadier Sechele and Col Hashatsi was necessary to ensure that all political parties entered into the reform process knowing what transpired.
Dr Thabane has previously lambasted Dr Metsing as a fugitive from justice and urged him to return and stand trial to clear his name. ENDS