THABA ‘NCHU- Exiled All Basotho Convention (ABC) member, Teboho Motšeleli, this week told the SADC Commission of Inquiry that Colonel Bulane Sechele asked him to convince the previous government led by Thomas Thabane, to fire army commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli.
Mr Motšeleli said the request was made in 2012 when Dr Thabane came to power after his ABC, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party formed an alliance.
At the time, Mr Motšeleli said he was still a member of the LCD and had contested the 26 May parliamentary elections, but lost. However, Mr Motšeleli told the commission he had a close relationship with party leader Mothetjoa Metsing, who became deputy prime minister when the ABC, LCD and BNP formed government.
Mr Motšeleli told the commission during Monday’s sitting in Thaba ‘Nchu, South Africa: “At the time, I was Mr Metsing’s head of security in the evenings because I was still employed by the American Embassy.
“I would attend ‘linakeli’ secret meetings with members of the army because their intelligence showed Mr Metsing was in danger from the LCD’s splinter party, the Democratic Congress.
“After the inauguration of Ntate Thabane as prime minister (in June 2012), I attended one of those secret meetings with the soldiers, and Sechele was also there. He later approached me and asked me to meet him the following day at a certain business in Maseru.
“When we met, Sechele asked me to advise Metsing to talk to his government allies and fire Kamoli. He said Kamoli should be removed from his position because he was going to destabilise the government.
“Sechele told me Kamoli was still taking orders from the previous government. He further promised to produce documented proof that Mr Metsing and his allies could use against Kamoli.”
Mr Motšeleli further told the commission he later arranged a meeting between Col Sechele and Mr Metsing.
“The meeting took place at Metsing’s government residence in Maseru West. Sechele was in disguise when we went through the gate so that the soldiers on duty would not recognise him. At that time, Ntate Thabane and Ntate Metsing were still in good books,” Mr Motšeleli said.
However, Mr Motšeleli told the commission that while Mr Metsing said he would speak to his partners about the issue, he also warned it would be difficult to dismiss Lt-Gen Kamoli because he had done nothing wrong.
“Mr Metsing was served with documents indicating how Lt-Gen Kamoli’s promotion was fast-tracked and also how he forged his age in order to serve for more years in the army. However, Mr Metsing and his allies did nothing about it.”
According to Motšeleli, communication between him and Col Sechele broke down after the coalition leaders failed to remove Lt-Gen Kamoli.
“He made follow-up calls to check whether the information against Lt-Gen Kamoli was being helpful. And since I had not been given feedback by Metsing, I was reluctant to answer his calls and we ended up not communicating as frequently as before.”
Motšeleli further told the commission he was surprised to hear Col Sechele singing a different tune when they met after some time.
“As time passed and the relationship between Metsing and his allies soured, I called Sechele in June last year because I could sense problems.
“He received the call but quickly dismissed me, saying he no longer had privacy because his cellphone might be bugged.
“Fortunately, we met at Makoanyane Barracks by coincidence in mid-June 2014. He told me that the army was going to overthrow the coalition government because it no longer had the majority seats it required to remain in power. He said two ABC MPs, Ntate Mophato Monyake and Ntate Thabiso Litšiba, had crossed the floor in parliament so Ntate Thabane and his government no longer had enough seats to make him a legitimate prime minister.
“Sechele further told me that since parliament had been prorogued (by Dr Thabane on 10 June 2014), the army was going to push for its reopening.
“He further told me that after it reopened, there would be a new prime minister because of floor-crossing that was going to happen that day.”
The SADC inquiry is investigating the fatal shooting of former LDF commander, Maapankoe Mahao in June this year by his military colleagues. The inquiry is also probing the legality of Lt-Gen Kamoli’s dismissal by Dr Thabane in August 2014, and his reinstatement by Dr Mosisili in May this year, and other security-related issues. Several witnesses have since testified in both Maseru and South Africa. The hearings would be continuing in Maseru after the South African hearings ended yesterday.