…as opposition claims fresh plot to assassinate leaders
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili is set to meet President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique next week over the SADC Commission of Inquiry currently underway in Maseru and South Africa.
Mr Nyusi is the new chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (OPDSC), hence Tuesday’s meeting scheduled for Maputo.
Regional leaders endorsed Dr Mosisili’s submission to establish the commission to investigate the death of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, at the hands of his military colleagues three months ago as well as other security challenges facing the country.
Impeccable sources told the Lesotho Times that Dr Mosisili, who is currently in New York attending the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, met with President Nyusi on the sidelines of the meeting and discussed the commission and “other related issues”.
According to the sources, the two leaders did not have enough time to finish their discussions, and agreed to meet again next week.
Dr Mosisili’s Press Attaché, Motumi Ralejoe, confirmed Tuesday’s meeting but said he did not have the agenda.
“It is true that the prime minister will have a special meeting with President Nyusi in Mozambique on Tuesday, but I don’t have the details or agenda,” Mr Ralejoe said.
Meanwhile, Dr Mosisili’s meeting with Mr Nyusi comes amid allegations in a desperate bid to conceal evidence, some government and army elements are planning to assassinate exiled opposition party and military witnesses whose testimonies before the SADC Commission begin today in South Africa.
A total of 21 witness will appear before the commission led by Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi of Botswana.
All Basotho Convention leader and former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leader Keketso Rantšo are some of the exiles scheduled to appear before the probe team when it convenes in Thaba ‘Nchu this morning.
The leaders, their followers and some members of the LDF fled to South Africa claiming the military was out to assassinate them.
Dr Thabane’s spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, yesterday told the Lesotho Times: “We have exposed a plan to ambush some of the politicians and military witnesses so that they don’t appear before the commission. They want to scare people and hamper the smooth-running of the commission.
“We believe it is because they are scared the evidence these people are going to give before the commission will incriminate and compromise some of them.”
However, Mr Thakalekoala said the plan would not succeed “because come rain or sunshine, they won’t be deterred.”
According to Mr Thakalekoala, the exiles were more than determined to “furnish the commission with facts”.
“People like Ntate Thabane have been in government and know everything there is to know. They are ready to provide the commission with facts to help it find lasting solutions to Lesotho’s political and security problems,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
“No threats from government or any quarter will stop Ntate Thabane and his colleagues from appearing before the commission.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Khotso Letsatsi first laughed before mocking Mr Thakalekoala for “saying childish things”.
“I mean, how can we ask SADC to set up the commission, only to sabotage it? How could we even begin to think of committing criminal acts in another country using the military?” Mr Letsatsi asked.
The minister further suggested the exiles were “peddling lies probably because they don’t want to appear before the commission”.
“Maybe for one reason or another, they don’t want to appear before the commission and are now coming up with feeble excuses,” Mr Letsatsi said.
“We have granted these people the freedom to testify before the commission in South Africa in violation of our country’s laws, yet they still find reason to complain.”
So far, the 10-member commission has interviewed, among others, Dr Mosisili, Defence and National Security Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, LDF commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli, Advocate-General Colonel Bulane Sechele, and Lt-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi who are among the key witnesses from government and the military.