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Metsing’s last stand! Is anybody paying attention?

Overview
A few years ago, Metsing, Deputy Prime Minister in all previous coalition governments in Lesotho, seemed untouchable. At the domestic level, his security detail was made up of fierce looking heavily armed soldiers who not only carried heavy guns but also had grenades as part of their weapons repertoire. At the regional level, Metsing was the face of the past regimes, whose leaders largely did not engage with the country’s regional partners. It’s not surprising that he seemed to have had the ear of several leaders in SADC. Metsing had mustered the art of engagement. This could be the main reason for his spectacular miscalculation that he would have the protection of his allies in the army in perpetuity and also that he could persuade regional leaders to listen to his cries for help when he lost out in government.

Having lost the elections in June 2017 Metsing incited rebellion in the military and when that failed, he fled the country initially claiming in an SABC interview that his youth advised him to flee since heavily armed police were on their way to arrest him. He later argued that his life was in danger in Lesotho hence his stay in South Africa. Since then Metsing has waged a campaign for what he calls a SADC mediated process for his return to Lesotho. It is in this context that a recent letter and petition to President Zuma in his capacity as Chairperson of SADC has to be understood. It is a cry for help by a politician who used to hold all the cards in the Lesotho political chess game but has lost all the leverage he had.

Metsing’s petition deserves an analysis on what he really wants and also whether he has any negotiating partner in Lesotho, Southern Africa and Africa as a whole. His cry for help is a consequence of his failure to retain power on his own terms as we will show below. What are his demands? Is anybody bothered by his cries? Are there any consequences for ignoring him?

Metsing’s struggle to stay in power
It is not unusual for a politician to seek strategies for gaining power or retaining it. What is unusual is for a political party which has had a diminishing support base like the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) led by Metsing, to manage consistently to maneuverer itself into a position whereby its bigger partners end up surrendering their leadership in government and at times in their political parties to him. Evidence has recently emerged that in both the 2012 and in the 2015 coalitions Metsing called all the shots. He apparently chaired most cabinet meetings and most cabinet sub-committees. But what is even more stunning is that he ended up ensuring that the Democratic Congress (DC), a much bigger party, surrendered its electoral support to him thus ensuring that he was able to get back to parliament in the 2017 elections. Two developments which took place before the handover of power to the new coalition government in in 2017 are important indicators of Metsing’s present maneuverers to wriggle himself back into power.
a) Ahead of the 2017 elections LCD championed an electoral pact of the many congress parties’ splinter groups as a way of ensuring that they would retain power. Metsing did not advocate for merger of those political parties but an electoral pact. A merger would probably have diminished his chances of being a dominant figure since he would only bring a smaller following into the new party.

Such a pact was eventually agreed with the much bigger party, the DC. It involved DC not standing for elections in twenty five out of the eighty constituencies. DC supporters would be asked to vote for LCD in all those constituencies where LCD would not stand. In an earlier article in lesothoanalysis I showed why this would be disadvantageous to DC but would be favourable to LCD. For all intents and purposes LCD borrowed votes from DC thus managing to gain eleven seats, still less than 9% of the total votes. This is a clear case where one party managed to ensure that despite its numerical inferiority it outmanoeuvres a senior partner. Metsing survived but just!

b) After losing the elections. Metsing was inconsolable but began to focus on the military option. In an uncharacteristically frank manner talking to his supporters, Metsing told all and sundry that his erstwhile allies in the military would face mortal danger if government passed on to the opposition. He went on to reveal the nature of his relationship with the Military by pointing out that the previous government got into power and sustained it on the backs of the military.

He brazenly pointed out that “….. it is because of members of the country’s army who put their necks on the block that we ended up taking power, and if today Thabane attains power, it is clear that some of them would be in danger”. He continued that there are some people “…whose future should be protected by us, regardless of our individual aspirations”. This is our obligation ….” Metsing knew that he could not protect the militia he had co-founded. This was a call to arms by his troops to stage a coup. Unfortunately staging a coup had already been foreclosed following South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation had earlier pointed out that those contemplating a coup in Lesotho must know that it would not be allowed.

Metsing bamboozled his partners to enter into a politically suicidal election pact where he was the only beneficiary. It did not work and he now went for a military option which had no prospects of success. Failure of all above drove him into self-exile where he now wants to return as part of the government of national unity. In his petition to President Zuma, Metsing makes several demands which are bound to go up in smoke like his earlier strategies to stay in power.
Metsing’s demands

In a thirty five page document, Metsing outlines his demands for a “Safe return” to Lesotho. The document is accompanied by a letter which summarises all thirteen demands or pre-conditions which have to be met before he “…on behalf of Lesotho opposition leaders in exile on requisite conditions for their return and related matters” can return to the country. A badly written document though this is, one distils that four main demands. These revolve around the following:

a. Establishment of a forensic audit of the June 2017 elections. This as we are aware has been his consistent gripe since he lost the elections. He claims that the elections were fraudulent thus his loss could be explained a result of malpractices by the Electoral Body. The problem with this view is that all the Elections Monitoring groups gave the election a clean bill of health. Most people know that the transparent nature of Lesotho elections make it difficult for anybody to rig them. Metsing thus does not accept the results of the 2017 elections;

b. Restoration of the security structures which the previous government had established. This includes, the freeing of Kamoli , former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force who is facing several charges of murder, attempted murder and so forth. It must be recalled that SADC endorsed the recommendations emanating from the Phumaphi Commission, to bring before the courts of law all those in the military who committed crimes in the past Metsing not only demands that those who have been charged , be released, but he wants the police unit which investigated those crimes to be disbanded;

c. Restoration of benefits which he claims he and Mokhothu, Deputy Leader of the DC and Leader of the Opposition have or should have. The two issues have been argued in the courts and judgement is expected soon;

d. Establishment of a Government of National Unity (GNU). This is Metsing’s final stroke. He demands to be in government regardless of the outcome of the elections. In the past, it was Metsing who was quite dismissive of the concept from Odinga, who headed the African Union (AU) Observer Mission to the 2015 elections in Lesotho. He further rejected that when the proposal was put by several mediators in the Lesotho crisis when he was Deputy Prime Minister in 2016. What was wrong when he was in office, cannot suddenly be a way for him to once again be in government. It is perhaps Metsing’s way of saying that such a GNU would be a way in which skeletons in his wardrobe should stay there.

Overall, the picture which emerges from Metsing’s petition to SADC is that of a person who is focused on himself as person and not the interests of the country. He wants impunity for all the actions he and his allies took in the past. This is why he wants Kamoli to be released from prison where he is awaiting trial; he also wants to ensure that he will be at the heart of government to influence judicial developments. Perhaps Metsing is not listening to the cries of the victims of the murders and torture the victims went through while he was Deputy Prime Minister.

The question under these circumstances is whether anybody is listening or bothered by Metsing’s cries for help?

Why Metsing’s demands are being ignored?
From the beginning let us clear a few fig leafs about Metsing and his self-exiled partners. As of the beginning of February 2018 none of them had applied for political asylum in South Africa. This means that they’re just guests in that country and cannot claim any protection under the law against their extradition if they are required to appear in the Lesotho courts for any breach of the law. Metsing, has a case in court where the anti-corruption unit (DCEO) is charging him of several counts of corruption. He thus has a genuine fear that coming to Lesotho would land him in court. Could he also be fearful that the rest of the militia would implicate him in the cases they have been charged with?

Mokhosi on the other hand has already been charged with murder of Policeman Khetheng whose body was exhumed a few months ago. Even though he claims to be in exile, he has been reporting to the police on a monthly basis as part of his bail condition. Staying in South Africa and then reporting to the police is rather inconsistent with an exile. As for Mokhothu, Deputy Leader of DC, it is clear that he is merely accompanying Metsing. He also probably doesn’t know why he is not home.

All three have no credible case to be away for political reasons. Metsing has a concrete reason for fearing arrest but not for political reasons but fear of corruption charges. It is for these reasons that their hope to put a spanner on the reform process is futile. They have sought to put the much touted reforms as a bargaining cheap to be given immunity from prosecution and also to sneak into power through the GNU. So far their strategy seems to be falling apart.

Firstly, SADC has reiterated its commitment to the deployment of the force and as will be shown later has begun to take measures to gain broader international support. President Zuma as Chairperson SADC is unlikely to have the time to engage with Metsing on this issue. He certainly has enough in his hands at the movement. Sources have indicated that he is not impressed with this stance particularly where Metsing challenges the authenticity of the June elections in Lesotho. In a similar manner, Deputy President Ramaphosa is also tied up with more serious issues than to attend to Metsing. He has nowhere to go!

Second, Metsing and his local partners have demanded that the SADC contingent force should be withdrawn as a condition of their participation into the reforms. In his petition, Metsing tactically does not confront this issue, but says that the presence of the force has emboldened the Prime Minister to purge the security forces and undertake measures which undermine the reforms. He thus wants the force out in line with their earlier demand. We know that the force is not being withdrawn but efforts are underway to bolder political, financial and logistical support internationally.

Finally the process of internationalising the intervention in Lesotho has begun. In its 748th African Union Peace Security Council Meeting on the deployment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) contingent mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho held on 24 January 2018 the SADC the deployment was welcomed. Council Acknowledged that the objective of the deployment is to stabilise the political and security situation in Lesotho; implement the recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry; and to create a secure, stable and peaceful environment conducive for the rule of law necessary for the implementation of constitutional, parliamentary, judicial, public and security sector reforms.

SADC’s request for financial and technical support was also appreciated. But more importantly, the Council requested the Chairperson of the Commission:
… to transmit the communiqué to the UN Secretary-General and to request that it be circulated as an official UN Security Council document, as well as to other relevant international stakeholders.

This essentially means that the question of the deployment of SADC Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL) is no longer just a matter for SADC and the AU, but it is now through the United Nations an international programme. Rather than withdraw SAPMIL, it is now being strengthened.

This is indeed Metsing’s last stand. If he fails in his demands, as I think he will, he will have no political future in Lesotho.

Conclusion
The issues about the reforms in Lesotho are very important and require that those in political positions should treat them as serious since the whole region is intent on assisting Lesotho out of its current quagmire. Metsing and his cohort have tried but have failed to derail the process. Essentially his cries for help are falling on deaf ears.
Listening to the voices in Southern Africa, it is clear that virtually nobody is bothered by what Metsing says. It is only a few of his supporters in Lesotho who still believe that he could still lead them into power, if not democratically through other means. But the time for coups and such other things has passed. Metsing is yesterdays strongman!

 

MMS/07/02/2018

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Games politicians play about reforms in Lesotho

Overview
Talking reforms in order to frustrate or stop reforms is a popular game of Lesotho politicians. All of us know that it is politically untenable to oppose reforms of the political system as a whole since there is a broad national and international consensus that instability in Lesotho can largely be attributed to the dysfunctional institutions. Almost all politicians are also aware that the politicisation of the judiciary, public service and the security services is a toxic combination leading to chronic instability that has plagued us for a long time. All politicians cry foul of these when in opposition, but revel using those unreformed institutions when they are in power. It would be funny if it were not so tragic that in discussions with some public officers, they unambiguously and unashamedly “hoist” their political party flag rather than speak to you as public servants. This is perhaps their way of anchoring their positions in the bureaucracy rather than acting as the servants of the people as the term implies.
For politicians the reforms process seems to be the hiding place for them to stage a route to power for those who are out of power, while for those in power, the reforms are a means to cement their hold on power. Neither position is honourable. In order to ensure that we are not duped into believing that there is a genuine process towards reforms, we have to understand the issues around the skirmishes of the Lesotho politicians. Their fight over this has nothing to do with patriotism, or ignorance. It is an untidy struggle by each group to control the process and ensure that it would strengthen their version of the reforms games and not the reforms. These games would necessarily bring about an unreformed system serving their interests. When all is done, the politicians will emerge as the winners and the people the losers.
It is critical to sketch out the background of the current process of reforms in Lesotho; the contesting versions of the main political players; and the way forward. The way forward has already been decided by the political parties with the support of several international bodies. This is why all those political forces which want to undermine the process talk reform but undermine reforms.
National and international consensus on reforms
At the height of the current Lesotho crisis which has led to the deployment of SADC military personnel in Lesotho, an important report was penned by the SADC Observer Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho (SOMILES) headed by Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa. It identified the key issues contributing to instability in Lesotho. Briefly, the substantive issues in the Report talk to issues about the constitution on how power has to be exercised and by whom. It also observes that security and public sector reforms are imperative if Lesotho is to move away from its perennial instability. The Report goes on to identify the specifics of the proposed changes. The Report was adopted and has been the basis of the titanic struggle of SADC and the successive governments in Lesotho on how to go about those reforms.
The most important issues which arose as early as 2015 were those about process. The Report spelled out that the question of reforms must be inclusive and transparent and must be owned by Basotho as a whole. In an important paragraph the Report points out:
Any constitutional review process needs to be embarked on through a process that will be seen to be legitimate and credible by the populace. It has become a generally accepted practice worldwide in constitution making processes that such projects must include an interactive platform between the government and its nationals. It also functions as an empowerment process where the government gives its people the right to decision making. Constitutional review is no ordinary law-making process and often requires the adoption of extraordinary processes.
Numerous SADC Double Troika Summits since then have reiterated the need to engage in a credible reform process in Lesotho. These culminated in the 37th SADC Double Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government in Pretoria in August 2017 which spelled out clearly that Lesotho should go through a reform process which will be preceded by a “Multi-Stakeholder Forum”. In a Communiqué SADC urged the Lesotho government to develop a roadmap on the implementation of SADC decisions with “..concrete, clear milestones, and deliverables and report progress at the next meeting of the Double Troika Summit to be held in November 2017”. But perhaps the key issue which was raised in the Communiqué was the question of process. SADC spelled out that the Multi-Stakeholder Forum must precede reforms.
Summit reiterated the need for a multi-stakeholder dialogue, bringing together all relevant stakeholders in the Kingdom of Lesotho, which will enable an inclusive and transparent means of ultimately, implementing the Reforms recommended by SADC. This dialogue must be led by Basotho with SADC providing the expertise to support the dialogue process.
From an international perspective, it is clear that the process is as important as the reforms themselves. The attempts at unilateralism are likely to be frowned upon by the international community and are bound to fail.
At the national level three important developments have taken place indicating the groundswell of movement to a national consensus on the processes and content of the reforms. They are put down in any order of importance.
a) A peace pledge was signed by all political parties to accept the outcome of the elections in 2017 and committed themselves to hold a multi-stakeholder dialogue ahead of the reforms. This was under the auspices of the Christian Council of Lesotho and witnessed by among others the European Union and the Commonwealth. Commenting on this the Commonwealth Secretary General who was in Lesotho during the period, pointed out that “…All parties have also confirmed their commitment to a multi-stakeholder approach to the reform process, proposed by regional body South African Development Community”;
b) In November 2017 the Lesotho Council of Non-government Organisations (LCN) organised a two day Workshop attended by several stakeholders including political parties and the government where the issues of the reform process was paramount. It is in the same forum where both the SADC Facilitator and Lesotho’s Deputy Prime Minister made some speeches. A clear consensus on how to proceed with the reforms emerged from the different panels;
c) In a follow up workshop in December 2017 by the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), a similar outcome was reached. In essence, there is no dispute that a broad-based reform process for Lesotho is the only way forward since the different stakeholders in Lesotho are in agreement that national healing and agreement on the way forward on reforms have the backing of most Basotho.
It has to be understood that the envisaged reforms are about how the country is governed, by whom and how? Such reforms are largely meant to reduce the power of politicians on the institutions and to increase their accountability to the citizens. It is thus not surprising when politicians coalesce and try to retain their present dominance of all institutions. They fight separately, but for a common cause. Those in opposition want the reforms stopped until they are in power, while those in government want to use undemocratic means to achieve a façade of reforms which they will superintend on. Both have to be stopped.
Attempts to frustrate reforms
After signing on to the pledge to undertake reforms preceded by a multi-stakeholder forum, and not a multi-party forum, the main political blocs in the country are now trying to sabotage the reforms. In their different ways, they use different approaches, to achieve the main objectives of the political elite-retaining the present system while pretending to be for reforms. What are the stances of both the opposition and the government on reforms?
Opposition duplicity on reforms
After losing the elections in June 2017, the opposition parties lead by the Democratic Congress (DC) have been dejected and uncertain of the way forward about the reforms. Their reform agenda before they lost the elections was clear; they wanted a process which was closed and meant to cement their dominant role. Thus they organised a sham workshop on Security Sector Reform which only included the government and the military with African Union and SADC observers. None of the security sector experts participated and also no civil society and political party representatives participated. It was truly a shameful sham!
Their process also involved an attempt to appoint a known political hack as the lead person to undertake reforms working with Deputy Principal Secretaries. The process was so blatantly exclusive that they could not sell it to anybody since it also excluded political parties and civil society organisations. Even the Christian Council of Lesotho which has tended to mediate in most of the self-created political problems in Lesotho were excluded from the process.
After the elections’ defeat, the opposition parties summersaulted to want inclusivity and transparency but even then on condition that:
a) Opposition leaders in exile for different reasons are provided with an amnesty so that they can participate in the reforms. The question whether even those of them who have escaped fraud charges should be provided amnesty has not been clear.
b) A government of national unity (GNU) be agreed upon and formed in order to ensure that the playing field will be level;
c) An amnesty be granted to all those who committed political crimes including the release of the soldiers who have been charged of crimes like murder. Specifically they demand that Kamoli, former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) be released from prison;
d) The SADC military deployed in Lesotho leave the country;
e) The appointment of Professor Kananelo Mosito as President of the Court of Appeal be revoked.
In essence, what the opposition want is that the rule of law should be suspended and their allies who committed horrendous crimes like murder and throwing their victims in dams should be forgiven for the sake of expediency. In another language, that is called blackmail. If they don’t get what they want, they will not participate in the reform process. A truly empty threat since the process is not one where a political party can have a veto power.
How government shot itself on the foot?
On the other hand the government also has its own demons. It proclaimed from the beginning that it would implement the decisions of SADC in full. But like the opposition, when in power, the demand by SADC that a roadmap with timelines which was supposed to be with SADC by November for a Summit of the Double Troika has not been submitted. The best that has been done is to have a UNDP support consultancy which produced the reforms roadmap. But then a big led-down began. Instead of ensuring that a process to reforms began in line with the agreements before the elections in the pledge; and in line with the decision of the Double Troika, the government sought to subvert that through unilateral actions. The following steps were undertaken by the government.as part of its reform process.
Government submitted a National Reforms Commission Bill, 2018 to Parliament on its opening day after a break and immediately proposed to move the suspension of Standing Order No. 51(5) (To be moved without Notice Standing Order No. 32(3). The implication of this was that Parliament would not discuss the Bill in Committee but it would be done quickly without any scrutiny. This was a typical ambush which would also ensure that the public had no say on that Bill. It took a petition to Parliament by Development for Peace Education (DPE) and other civil society organisation to refuse to accede to the proposal to suspend Standing Order 51(5) for the government to change its mind. In addition, DPE in its petition spelled out that the only sensible thing to do is to defer the law pending the holding of a Multi-Stakeholder forum. “Exercise its power to defer this Bill pending the upcoming multi stakeholder conference where ideas would have been gathered from different stakeholders to inform the law”. The issue is very simple, none of the Stakeholders has commended on the Commission law. It is even doubtful whether a Commission is the appropriate vehicle for dealing with the reforms.
Substantively, the Bill itself is so outrageously undemocratic that one wonders whether drafters are familiar with modern democratic jurisprudence informing reforms. Two examples will suffice. First, Section 6(1) on the appointment of the Chairperson of the Commission is astounding. “The Chairperson of the Commission shall be appointed by the Prime Minister on the advice of Minister”. Who would ever accept that situation where effectively all other players are side-lined and the Minister and Prime Minister are the only important actors in the reform process? You cannot aim at achieving good by using undemocratic means. Part of the challenges of the present constitution is the unfettered powers of the Prime Minister. Neither any independent structure nor Parliament has a say on decisions of the Prime Minister.
Again Section 14(1) spells out how the proposed Secretarial of the Commission would employ staff. Once again it is the Minister who superintends. “The Commission in consultation with the Minister may appoint, such staff of the Secretariat as it may consider necessary or the better performance of its functions”. The problem is that this law prejudges the issues and is backward in the contemporary debates about reform. It gives the Minister the type of powers that African ministers in pre-democratic era took for granted. This is not only a procedurally flawed law, but it is substantively a bad law.
Conclusion and way forward
The argument above is straightforward; politicians want to hijack our only opportunity to bring about accountable governance structures in Lesotho. While they may seem to be at loggerheads occasionally, they will get together to plot against the broader interests of the public. Indeed, the proposed meeting of political leaders is such a scheme. The reforms, we have to reiterate, are not a property of politicians; politicians are only part of the stakeholders. Decisions which they take excluding the broader public will amount to the sham which was used by the military to consult the people when the present constitution was written. It was a politicians’ constitution, and serves those in power very well.
In this context, the only way to salvage this process is to ensure that the present Bill is shelved while the stakeholders are convened to debate the issues and come up with document which is fully owned by the people. About the best route if one wants a law is one which establishes the interim structures for holding the Stakeholder Forum It is the Forum which would indicates the structures necessary for undertaking reforms. To legislate before the Forum is essentially to attempt to pre-empt the process and to delegitimise it.
It is up to the people as a whole and the friends of Lesotho to demand that the process which was accepted by all before the June 2017 elections be followed. For those who want suspects in crimes to be released as a pre-condition for their participation in the reform process also, we categorically say to them, stay where you are while the reforms proceed. We can no longer accept blackmail on the reforms process.

 

MMS/24/01/2018

Whose reforms? Can the opposition scuttle the constitutional reform process in Lesotho?

Overview
Over a year ago, the bar talk or popular conversation amongst the chattering classes in Maseru was about bringing an end to impunity in Lesotho. With the arrest and charging of the main perpetrators of murder and torture, the conversation seems to be changing. This is in spite of the fact that none of those charged have gone on trial. This is the usual premature celebration syndrome suffered by the chattering classes. Of currency now is the big task of undertaking the reforms. The constitutional, parliamentary, judicial, public sector and security sector reforms have now been the main talking points in Lesotho.

While those in government talk about the roadmap and the broader issues about process, others particularly those who lost the June 2017 elections see threatening to scamper the reform agenda as their shield against their alleged misdeeds in the previous government. It is not uncommon to hear some vowing that reforms will not take place unless their preconditions are met. Their preconditions will be dealt with later. It is under these circumstances that one is forced to ask whose reforms are these anyway. We also have to debate whether it is permissible that any one group should or can have a veto power over an agreed national programme? I say an agreed national programme deliberately because; all political party leaders signed a pledge in April 2017 under the auspices the Christian Council of Lesotho and witnessed by amongst others, the Commonwealth and the European Union, that they would unconditionally go for reforms after the elections. Thus over and above the decision of SADC on reforms, this was agreed to be prioritised as a national agenda by all political parties prior to the June 2017 elections.

Whose reforms?
The mooted reforms as we should recall are not a new agenda which has come with the present government. As early as 2014 when there were squabbles within Lesotho’s first coalition government, SADC through its mission to Lesotho ( SOMILES) began to suggest that some of the challenges Lesotho faces are due to the inadequacies in its constitutional setup. That such prognosis is baseless is neither here nor there. They pointed out that the roles and duties of the military and the police among others, overlapped, thus bringing about the persistent clashes and mutual suspicions. These issues were finally submitted to the SADC Double Troika Summit in 2015 which decided that it was imperative for Lesotho to engage in constitutional and security sector reform at the earliest in order to minimise the chances of another political eruption. In consultation with most political stakeholders, agreement was reached that reforms were necessary.

Even before the SOMILES report was tabled and adopted by SADC, another initiative had been undertaken under the sponsorship of the Commonwealth to send a multi-party delegation which also included senior public officers to New Zealand to observe and study first-hand how Lesotho’s adopted electoral model (MMP system) operates. Dr Prasad who was then the Commonwealth Special Envoy to Lesotho chaperoned and painstakingly explained over and over again the focal points to be observed. The mission which was headed by Mothetjoa Metsing, then Deputy Prime Minister spent over a week in New Zealand and held numerous discussions with different institutions on how the system operates. Prasad subsequently wrote a report detailing the recommended reforms which would, they hoped, stabilise the country.

Instead of implementing reforms, elections were held and as expected produced an even worse political crisis. In his last visit to Lesotho before he retired, Prasad was an extremely disappointed person who lamented that the promises Metsing and other members of the delegation made to him came to nothing. They promised reforms and did everything to prevent reforms since those would have stopped their ambitions which could have only been achieved through the use of an unreformed military establishment. In a recent address to the Centre for Investigative Journalism, the South African High Commissioner echoed Prasad’s words when he indicated that the disappointing thing about Lesotho is that the politicians actually know what to do, but don’t do so for selfish reasons. With regard to the above, the question of whose reforms is easy to answer. The need for reforms was initially identified by both SADC and the Commonwealth but have since been accepted by all the internal stakeholders as pointed out above. Neither the Commonwealth nor SADC have vested interests in the process except that they don’t want to be operating a fire brigade mission in Lesotho every few years. This was made clear by the recent SADC Summit in Swaziland which spelt out that the reforms should be Lesotho led but with SADC support.

For Basotho in general, the reforms are a basis for the establishment of an accountable government which would inhibit politicians to believe that they own the country once they are in office. Specifically, the reforms should be able to protect those who feel that when they are out of government their safety is not guaranteed. It is constitutional structures which will minimise the overreach of the government. This is why it makes no sense for people to refuse to participate in the design and building of structures which would ostensibly protect them against an over powerful government. Let us not make any mistake; constitution building is about putting restraints against government. It is about ensuring that those in power rule within the confines of the constitution and other laws. Governments would be perfectly happy to rule unfettered by any rules if they could. The question then is what are the contested issues about the contemplated reforms?

Contrasting and changing visions about the reform process
Debate about the reforms process as we will recall was spelled out in several SADC summits since 2015. Specifically SADC wanted the Lesotho government to provide a detailed roadmap with clear timelines to the Swaziland Summit in August 2016. This followed Deputy Prime Minister Metsing’s failed shuttle diplomacy to Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa in March 2016 where he attempted to negotiate outside Summit the softening of decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission. SADC then and now demanded a roadmap for the implementation of all its decisions including those about the reforms. A credible roadmap was never produced until Lesotho went for the June 2017 elections which brought about a new government. It is in pursuit of the above pressure to develop a roadmap that a UNDP assembled team developed a roadmap which was approved by Cabinet recently and awaits parliamentary approval.

The roadmap, in line with the SADC prescription should be inclusive and transparent. It is in line with this that Metsing, former Deputy Prime Minister who had fled the country in August, claiming he had uncovered a plot to arrest him was written a letter inviting him to return to the country in order to participate in the reform process. Inviting Metsing who has been self-exiled since August 2017 was accordingly an important step in ensuring that the opposition parties are well represented in the reforms. Metsing’s response together of those of his colleagues in the opposition is worth analysing since it indicates the state of play in the opposition parties. In a presentation on the reforms to a workshop organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Maseru (08/12/2017) Dr Fako Likoti representing the Democratic Congress ruled out the possibility of the opposition parties taking part in the reforms as long as their “leaders remain out of the country”. He went further to assert that the reforms would be implemented at “gun point” as long as SADC has deployed a military force in Lesotho. This is more than scare tactics. It is an attempt to find a non-existent alibi to those who are really scared on a reform process which will deny them of the possibility of going back to office on the back of the military. We cannot forget how Mosisili, the former Prime Minister in 2015 after going back to office on the back of the military rebellion, publicly thanked the forces for having facilitated his coming back to office. Infamously, his Deputy, Metsing put it more bluntly that there are soldiers who had put their necks on the block for his party.

Mosisili was to later reiterate that stance in an exclusive interview with Public Eye where he pointed out that the opposition would not participate in the reforms.
We are unequivocal when it comes to that issue that we are not going to be part of the reforms under the circumstances. What we are saying is that government should facilitate for the unconditional return of exiled leaders, and secondly, we can’t go to reforms with the gun on our necks.

For Mosisili, the SADC deployment is tantamount to an invasion. This is just an excuse to avoid the embarrassment of losing elections. The reality of being out of power can be traumatising for those who have spent over a decade in office. Mosisili’s case against participation in reforms is incoherent and reflects badly on him as a former Prime Minister who had pledged to undertake reforms. Mosisili is probably just trying to be in sync with his former deputy, Metsing who has run away not for political reasons, but to avoid his charges by the anti-corruption unit which has preferred charges against him.
In his five pages letter to the Government Secretary Metsing lists numerous issues which makes him to fear for his life. Some of the issues he raises are listed below not in terms of frivolity or seriousness but randomly.

  1. During the inauguration of the Prime Minister a figurine of his party in a coffin with his picture were paraded by ruling party supporters;
  2. His deputy, Mokhosi was tortured by the police and those have not been charged;
  3. The arrest of Ramainoane;
  4. The reappointment of Professor Mosito as President of the Court of Appeal;
  5. The Prime Minister has labelled him a fugitive from justice;

The truth of the matter is that Metsing pronounced on SABC Television a day after his departure from Lesotho that the Youth of his party informed him that there was a convoy of police from Maseru to Mahobong, his home, who were going to arrest him. He feared that they would kill him. It was not as if there was any substance to it and there was never any indication that his arrest had anything to do with political issues. The police have obviously denied that they had any plans to arrest him.

The resistance against the reforms was predictable from the beginning. SADC facilitation, it must be understood would never be universally accepted. First there will always be those who perceive such an intervention as an instrument by their opponents to remove the last hope for them to go back to power through the use of the security services. The SADC facilitation and the deployment of troops are meant largely to: a) deter rogue elements in the military from preventing the implementation of SADC decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission; b) ensuring that the reform process is done transparently and inclusively in order to ensure that the outcome is accepted by the Basotho as a whole. Those in the government and those in the opposition who have misunderstood this may have to reflect. The facilitation will not be in the hands of any of those groups.

Can the opposition stall the reforms?
We now have a clear picture of the issues and what is at stake. The question then is whether the reforms can be scuttled by the boycott of the opposition? The problem which the opposition spokespersons have is that they are relying on what Section 85 of the Constitution spells out as a route to changes in the constitution. As we will be aware, there are some sections of the constitution which are entrenched, while others are double entrenched. Section 85 therefore talks to amendments to the existing constitution. It does not deal with the nuclear option, which could be taken in circumstances where it has become impossible to amend the constitution. I will deal with this last.

Let us understand that most of the items which are on the table in the reform process do not require tampering with the Constitution. The Security Sector Reforms for example, can be done through ordinary legislation in parliament. Nothing in the Constitution could stop broad based discussions and agreements by stakeholders on the direction of the security establishment. The focus would be to come up with the threat perceptions and how to deal with them and through which structures. The scrutiny of the Lesotho Defence Force Act; the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Act; and the National Security Service Act is all that needs to be done. Those, therefore who are not keen to participate in the reforms, but would want to use the unreformed structures for their own purposes may find that the train has by-passed them. Nothing will be gained here by boycotts.

Even assuming that work could stall, the contributions of stakeholders who will inevitably include some of the supporters of the boycotting political parties will be received and considered by the stakeholder forum or national conference. Those sections of the constitution which are entrenched don’t have to be debated in parliament where the ruling coalition is short of a two thirds majority. Let us not deceive ourselves, proposals can be discussed and agreements reached and the timing of seeking parliamentary approval would be left with the Constitution Making Body and the government.

The importance of SADC presence in Lesotho with its Oversight Committee, intelligence and police operatives cannot be underestimated. All those structures are observing, and report to their principals. If people run away to South Africa rather than face corruption cases, the police and intelligence people will know. Let us remember than amongst all those intelligence people, we have some from South Africa. If on the other hand, there is an attempt by the government to undermine the rule of law, the same operatives and the Oversight Committee are at hand. So the issue of Metsing will be seriously scrutinised since he is the only one who can claim that he has run away. Since Metsing has not applied for political asylum he could be brought to Lesotho not for reforms but to face trial should that option be necessary. Should the DCEO seek his extradition it will be the South African Courts and not the government which will make the decision. Fortunately South Africa is not a banana republic as Al Bashir and Grace Mugabe can testify.
Mokhosi’s case is different, since he has been charged of murder and on bail. The fact that he claimed to have run away from the police only to report monthly to the police in line with his bail conditions, makes this case a rather curious one. There is nothing to be said about Mokhothu, Deputy Leader of the Democratic Congress. His leader is around the country and nobody would ever be bothered by Mokhothu. He is nothing but a publicity seeker.

It is obvious that the opposition is putting itself in a situation where it will be under considerable pressure from SADC to participate in the reform process otherwise reforms would continue without them. But more importantly they have nothing to gain by boycotting the reforms since those will continue in their absence.

Failing to persuade the opposition to participate in the reform process could lead to the unleashing of the nuclear option. This is the least desirable option, but it can be the thing which can unlock the logjam. Once the negotiations have been completed, and agreements reached on the future constitutional dispensation, parliament could by a simple majority pass a resolution to hold a national referendum to have a new constitution rewritten and approved. There are several ways of doing that. The first one is to place the agreed constitution before the totality of the people through a referendum.

Alternatively, it could be a referendum to give parliament power to pass a new constitution by a simple majority. The nuclear option can only be utilised in order to pass a new constitution. Unlike the amendments to the current one, which would have to go through the scrutiny of Section 85, the writing of a new constitution would be directly authorised by the people in a popular vote. The opposition is bound to lose more if they end up facing the referendum rather than negotiating the best deal for the country. Let lawyers quibble over this, but this is real politics which those who believe in conditionalities have to deal with.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my interactors!

Bedroom coups always end badly. Can Lesotho learn from Zimbabwe

Recently I argued that Zimbabwe would soon have to deal with the consequences of either a bedroom coup or a military coup. It soon emerged that the prospects of a full-fledged bedroom coup brought a shiver to most Zimbabweans particularly the military brass which had always thought of themselves as stockholders in the Zimbabwean State. While the military could tolerate, as they had done for years, Grace Mugabe’s rule through Gabriel Mugabe, the prospect of Grace Mugabe ruling on her own sent shivers down their spines. She had already demonstrated her greed, intolerance and erratic character over the years. The final straw was the purge of Emerson Mnangagwa, who was seen as the blue-eyed successor of Mugabe. The prospect of a Mugabe dynasty was frightening!
The question which has been central to the understanding of the Zimbabwean situation is the nature of the system itself; the nature of the encroachment by Grace Mugabe leading to the intervention by the military on the succession processes as Mugabe’s reign reaches its twilight. For Lesotho, the question is whether the developments in Harare present us with a reminder that bedroom coups are bad and may lead to tears? The signs are there and they are as frightening as the developments in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe military state
The intriguing thing about Zimbabwe is that it has had a veneer of a democratic state while in reality it has always been a military-led state. From the liberation struggle which came to an end in the late 1970s to the elections of 1980 and beyond, the country was led by those of its military and military veterans who were deployed in the government. All of Zimbabwe’s elections except the 1995 ones were violent elections which did not approximate a normal electoral process. At the heart of the violence in those elections were the military, the police and ruling party youths who were protected by the state machinery. When Mugabe won all those elections, we have to understand that those were in reality “selections” not “elections”. The formal processes which were open were a legitimation exercise since the inner circle of the military state had already selected the winners.
What this means is that Mugabe could be regarded as a figurehead in a military run establishment. This does not mean that Mugabe did not have power. It only means that his power depended on the support of the military and other veterans. This was demonstrated a decade ago, when the veterans demanded cash payments for their role in the liberation struggle. Those in the treasury knew that there was no money to honour those demands, but Mugabe had all of them paid in spite of the protestations by those who ran the treasury. The beginnings of the economic crisis in Zimbabwe have often been traced to that decision. Mugabe did not have power to rebuff the stockholders even though he appeared a strong elected president. He was not. He ruled on borrowed power. When ten years ago, his new wife began to push him to act as if he had power, he began that slippery road to removal from office.
The nature of the Zimbabwean state as a military one was forcefully broad to the fore in 2002 when the Security Chiefs announced two weeks before the elections, that the Presidency in Zimbabwe is a “a straight jacket” in which the President fits. He cannot do as he wishes. Zimbabwe’s military and security chiefs announced on 9 January 2002, two months before the presidential elections, that they would not tolerate any president who did not observe the objectives of the liberation struggle.
The security chiefs who included Defence Forces Chief Vitalis Zvinavashe, Army Commander Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force Chief Perrence Shiri and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, said the highest office in the land was a straightjacket whose occupant was expected to observe the objectives of the liberation struggle.
“We will therefore not accept, let alone support or salute, anyone with a different agenda that threatens the very existence of our sovereignty, our country and our people,” they said in a press conference.
The question of a selection as opposed to an election was thus put forth. What is the use of going through a choiceless election? An election which is supposed to produce the results which the military want is not an election but a selection by the military with the electorate used as a cover for military rule.
Closer to the present, let us carefully review the current pronouncements by the military to be certain that we are dealing with a military state not a democratic state. After the unceremonious dismissal of Mnangagwa by Mugabe, General Chiwenga who had recently pronounced during the funeral of Lt. General Motšomotšo in Lesotho that the gun must always follow politics and not the other way round, in his press conference in Harare (11/11/2017) warned against the purge of people associated with the liberation struggle. “The current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background, must stop forthwith,” he told those gathered for the news conference. “We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in.” He reminded the press of previous incidents when the military intervened in ZANU affairs. He deliberately did not include the ascension of Mugabe to the Presidency of ZANU prior to independence. Let us reiterate, that Mugabe’s victory in 1975 was a result of action by ZANLA rather than the broad masses of the party itself.
In an equally forthright manner General Moyo reading a statement argued that the army had not staged a coup but wanted to stop the purges which have been going on particularly to those who had been part of the liberation struggle. Their action was merely targeting the criminal around the president. Now that is political speak by the army! All the signs of a coup existed in Zimbabwe as soon as Chiwenga made his statement which I had suggested was meant to scare off those around Mugabe but was told by a Zimbabwean that Chiwenga was not scaring anyone but was dead serious. Movement of tanks and other military assets was ominous the day after Chiwenga spoke. All these were crowned by Moyo’s statement which those of us in Africa know. It always begins with “Fellow Zimbabweans…” in this case. But was this really a coup?
In a classic sense of African coups it was. It was a case where one regime was removed even if the coup makers steadfastly deny that it is a coup. On the other hand it is not a coup since the military merely took from their delegate their delegated authority. The conflation of party, military and government in Zimbabwe is total. Mugabe was just reshuffled from office and another militarist in the name of Mnangagwa was selected. Indeed Mnangawa in a statement of 08/11/2017 was confident that he would return from exile shortly to remove Mugabe and his wife.
I will go nowhere; I will fight tooth and nail against those making a mockery against Zanu-PF founding principles, ethos and values. You and your cohorts will instead leave Zanu-PF by the will of the people and this we will do in the coming few weeks as Zimbabweans in general now require new and progressive leadership that is not resident in the past and refuses to accept change.
In essence Mnangwagwa and the military were one; they wanted to withdraw the delegated powers which Mugabe with the influence of his wife and their cohorts in what was called the G40 thought was theirs. This is also why Zanu-PF found it so easy to expel Mugabe as their leader as soon as it became clear that the delegated power to him had been withdrawn by the military. The question therefore is why Mugabe’s delegated authority was withdrawn?
Grace Mugabe intrusion into state affairs and state capture
“Gucci” Grace Mugabe’s known talent when she married Gabriel Mugabe was her prolific shopping, a factor which brought about her nickname. For fifteen years or so she shopped and shopped and shopped! Apparently there is a limit to shopping. She then moved into massive acquisition of farms and properties in Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Dubai and South Africa amongst other places. In the process she was ruthless in displacing villagers using the police and other state agencies. For Grace, it did not matter whether villagers got a court order to stop her in her escapades as long as she had security agents behind her. The question is where did her power to do all she did come from?
As Robert Mugabe aged his wife began to move into the spotlight publicly influencing state appointments and dismissals. Perhaps the most sensational of her actions within the government was her call for the dismissal of Joyce Majuru as Vice President on allegations that she wanted to poison her husband. When she succeeded she now began to have illusions of grandeur hoping to be initially a cabinet minister and later as Mugabe’s successor. This drove her to work through her husband to be “elected” as head of the ZAN-PF women’s wing.
Having accumulated so much wealth since she ventured into business she was intent on securing it indefinitely through state capture and ultimately to directly control the state when her aging husband passed on. Amongst the most notable of her actions until she had Mnangagwa fired are the following:
a) In June 2017 Grace Mugabe grabbed the 3rd largest dam in Zimbabwe in Mazowe. The dam was built in 1918 for irrigation of the citrus plantations in the surrounding area. It was also increasingly being used for fishing and recreation by the villagers. In spite of the fact that the law prohibits privatisation of water in Zimbabwe, Grace took over the dam and had AK47 wilding policemen chasing away villagers from using the it;
b) In a rally in July Grace Mugabe publicly humiliated Presidential spokesman George Charamba accusing him of taking sides in the factional battles in ZANU-PF. Images of Charamba who has been Permanent Secretary for information since 2000 being roasted in the podium by Grace Mugabe were incredible to watch.
The agitation to have Mnangagwa dismissed in both government and the party began with Grace Mugabe. She accelerated her campaign on realisation that the President did not have long to live. Her private and public stances derived from the conflation of the private and public spheres. Somehow the bedroom had overthrown the public sphere of the state. The spousal relationship which is not a constitutional matter had staged a coup through other means other than weapons of war. The bedroom coup was now a reality which would only be confronted by weapons of war as the generals rolled down the tanks. This emboldened ZANU-PF and the broader public to reject the notion that the President’s wife has a public face rather than a private role with the husband.
Worrying signals in Lesotho
The Zimbabwe bedroom coup is now being wrapped up. I suspect that by the time this post is out, “Gucci” Grace and her husband would be on their way to Dubai or some other place in the world fearing the wrath of the masses. But it is important to say that Grace Mugabe took almost twenty years to attempt to stage a coup. She spent her initial period shopping rather than interfering in state matters. For Lesotho there are worrying signals less than six months after the new government took over power. Of course some of the information we have has not been confirmed but we know enough now to say that the bedroom coup is imminent.
After the agreement to form a coalition government was reached amongst the four political parties, there were strange appointments at Ministerial and later in diplomatic postings. Word in Maseru was that most of the bizarre appointments were due to the closeness of those appointees to the Prime Minister’s wife. Indeed in a widely seculated, audio clip she seemed to confirm her hand in some of those appointments, arguing that some of those were not educated but deserved the positions in view of their contribution to the struggle against the previous regime. Mrs Thabane is right in one thing; ministerial positions can be dished to anybody as a reward for services rendered. At times even the most undeserving have been given such positions. She is completely wrong to believe that senior diplomatic postings are just that. In all countries around the world, a combination of minimum qualifications and political allegiance are the norm unless the appointees are meant for bench warming rather than representing the country.
“Gucci” over the years was able to syphon funds from the state for personal use. The latest attempt was her capture of Mazowe dam as we indicated above. Things like this always begin small but end up with massive syphoning of public resources. An intriguing SAVINGRAM from the Cabinet Office on 22/08/2017 to all Principal Secretaries alerting them of an award to the First Lady by an obscure Women’s movement is worth reviewing. The Principal Secretaries were being notified to advise Ministers of the occasion “The cost of the ticket(s) is M300.00 per person and M3, 000.00 per table of ten, respectively. Please note that out of the event’s proceeds, a certain percentage will be given to the First Lady to donate to a charity/support group of her choice.” One of the recipients of the SAVINGRAM was later to minute to the Procurement office to meet for a discussion. I am not sure whether and how many Government Ministries bought tickets for this venture. Nevertheless it sends a clear message that funds can be facilitated to move from the public purse into the private purse.
But more alarming is the Prime Minister’s wife’s escapades in New York where like “Gushi” Mugabe did to Charamba, she is reported to have publicly harassed Ambassador Maope, Lesotho’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Not only did she say unspeakable things to him in a reception meant for her husband, but she is reported to have asked the assembled Basotho in the reception to line up to inform her how the Ambassador has treated them. Mrs Thabane had absolutely no business getting involved in state matters. But what is even more worrying is that she said whatever she said in the presence of the Prime Minister, just like “Gucci” did. The attempt to humiliate a senior Lesotho diplomat by someone who has no status to do so is deplorable.
The issue is very clear, the First Lady as we all know is not a state official but only a beneficiary of state patronage because of the husband. This is why that position does not appear in both the Lesotho and Zimbabwean constitutions. When people go to the elections, they only vote for the President or the Prime Minister; they never vote for the spouse. It is in this context that attempts to transfer power to what is known as First Ladies in the medium of the bedroom should never be accepted. As Robert Mugabe has probably noticed even if he does not want to acknowledge, bedroom coups always end in tears! Even if the courtiers scream in the media against this warning, the fact is that we have started badly. The spectre of a bedroom coup is ominous in Lesotho.
Let the Zimbabwean experience by-pass us!

The struggle to dismantle the militia: can the militia survive after Kamoli’s demise?

Overview
The Lesotho security crisis as we have today has been here a long time. It began to rear its head as early as 2007 when for the first time, the ruling party, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), began to lose constituencies in the urban areas. While in the past, the LCD was assured of a clean sweep in constituency elections portion of the electoral system, with the other parties only sharing the proportional part of our Mixed Member Proportional model things began to change. In panic the military was increasingly from that time onwards, pushed into the mainstream of politics after there had been an effort to extract them from active politics after the 1998 SADC intervention. The 2007 post-election period is memorable for the turmoil it unleashed. It is from that time that the army was once again used to beat up civilians in Maseru and other places. It was the beginning of the period of impunity for those with guns.
As this reintroduction of military involvement in politics intensified, it became apparent that the government was preparing a role for one blue-eyed boy who was then too junior in rank but ambitious. The appointments of Commanders who were already too old to last, gave room for the meteoric rise of Tlali Kamoli who was absorbed into the army from the political activism of the Lesotho Youth Service (LYS) to be appointed Acting Commander and later confirmed as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) shortly before the 2012 elections. Kamoli was thus appointed Commander when the political leaders in the ruling party were under threat by new political forces. At the same time, Kamoli himself was long in the service but at junior ranks and his promotion was more due to the mutual insecurity of him as a newly appointed Commander who was fast-tracked into senior ranks in a country undergoing transition from a one party dominant system into a competitive multi-party system. They needed each other. When the Democratic Congress, an offshoot the LCD lost elections in 2012, it had however cultivated links with its protégé, Kamoli to make it impossible for the new government to stabilize.
It took just two years for Kamoli to begin to build a parallel force which would be loyal and answerable to him only. In evidence before the Phumaphi Commission, two significant things emerged. First, was the evidence by one Hashatsi, who had just been promoted from Captain to Lieutenant Colonel, that he commanded the Special Forces and reported directly to the Commander. A relatively junior officer, answerable to the head of the army! Second, we also learned that new recruits into the army in 2013/14 were taken away for secret training and indoctrination in some mountain hideouts. This was the foundation of side-lining most of the senior officers who did not believe in the creation of the militia, and the emergence of the hardcore of those in the officer-corps who believed in Kamoli’s project and now with specially trained soldiers. The militia was thus a reality by the time the rebellion in the military came to the fore in early 2014. We now had a militia operating within the ranks of the LDF.
The departure of Kamoli in November 2016 from the LDF weakened the coordination and the resources to the militia but it remained intact. Two things have since happened with implications, for the survival of the militia as cohesive force within the LDF. The demise of two of its leading members, Sechele and Hashatsi who assassinated the newly appointed Commander. Motšomotšo showed that the militia was still around but desperate. Theirs was something akin to a suicide mission since they knew that Motšomotšo’s security detail was bound to respond to the murder of their boss. Second was the arrest and incarceration of Kamoli in the Correctional Service facility pending trial for murder and several other crimes. The question however is whether his arrest means that the capabilities of the militia have ceased or not? How large was this militia within the officer-corps?
Crimes by militia within LDF Command
The hold of the militia on LDF has been extensive. While some of its members played leading roles in high profile actions, there are others who were quieter and still others were akin to sleeper cells. But the hold in the past three years had extended beyond the military. Some of its members were in the police while others were also ensconced in the political class. The common denominator for all of them was involvement in murderous activities. There may be some who also doubled in other crimes, but the bond of all was how to obstruct the rule of law by murder or intimidation. Their activities were not lately confined to killing for political reasons. They killed and hid the bodies in dams and graves.
In an unprecedented report on the Lesotho security crisis, the Phumaphi Commission, which had been established by SADC amongst other things to investigate the circumstances leading to the killing of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao by the military the character of the LDF was laid bare. The report showed that criminality had become a central feature of the organization.
Evidence before the Commission is that the LDF became a law unto itself, this is corroborated by warrants of arrest issued on the 17th April 2014 for High Treason against Brig. Mokaloba, Major Lekhoa, Major Ntoi, Captain Hashatsi, 2nd Lieutenant Nyakane, 2nd Lieutenant Hlehlisi, Corporal Mokhesuoe, and Lance Corporal Mpolokeng Moleleki, and another warrant of arrest issued on the on the 29th September 2014 for Treason against Kamoli, Captain Hashatsi, Brigadier Mokaloba, Lt. Colonel Phaila, 2nd Lt. Nyakane, 2nd Lt. Hlehlisi, 2nd Lt. Moeletsi, Major Ntoi.
Annexure 9 of the Report detailed the type of cases, the suspects and the places of alleged commission of those crimes. Since the new government took over, some of these cases have been re-activated including those which allegedly have been committed by Kamoli who has so far being charged of fifteen crimes. Sources indicate that he is a suspect in over fifty crimes.
It was not only Kamoli who was involved in these unacceptable crimes, even though he was the leader of the militia. Silent though the present Acting Commander was during that period, there are times when he emerged to prove his credentials to the team. Three instances for which he has not even distanced himself are important to note.
a) During the attempted coup he has been shown to have been in the night meetings which were overseeing the operations which ultimately led to the attack on Police Stations and the State House. He cannot without explanation or a deal with the prosecutors avoid the charge of conspiracy to overthrow the government;
b) In September 2014 Major General Poopa with Ntoi of the High Treason and bombs fame who has now been promoted twice in fifteen months to the Brigadier level, was the main speaker in the show of the weapons which LDF captured from police stations on 30th August 2014. He showed off the weapons which they had seized since those he argued could have been misused by police when opposition political parties staged a rally against the government. Here Poopa showed his commitment to the cause of the militia which disarmed the police to suppress any possible resistance. It was not about suppressing a crime, but to facilitate a crime(s);
c) Again, it is Poopa who was giving instructions to Makoanyane Military Hospital shortly after Lt. General Mahao was killed. Could it not be him who was called by one of the perpetrators of that crime shortly after the murder that “…re mo fumane, re mo thuntse. Ke na le Sg. Makara”. (We have found him and shot him. I’m with Sg. Makara) as witnesses told the Phumaphi Commission? Major General Poopa has a lot of explaining to do to exonerate himself from suspicion that he was part of the plot to murder Mahao.
Another senior officer in the LDF whose name featured prominently in the case of High Treason and could have also been implicated in the conspiracy to murder Mahao is Brigadier Mokaloba who made hay out of the rebels within the army during the memorial service of Motšomotšo. It is the same Mokaloba who agitated against the lawful appointment of Mahao as Commander and supported Kamoli who refused to leave office. The issue is very simple, Mokaloba and those around him are part of the military rebellion which has brought Lesotho where it is. It is inconceivable that he has just been converted to the law-abiding soldier he pretends to be. Indeed, in evidence to the Phumphi Commission he was the stubborn rowdy one who wanted to show that he was with Kamoli and asserted that Mahao had never been a Commander. The last time I checked discipline was the core competence a soldier had to possess. Mokaloba who did not recognise a government gazette making changes to the military structure is the epitome of indiscipline.
It is also important to show how the militia disregarded the law under the leadership of the group which now controls the LDF. True at the helm was Kamoli, but he did not run the show alone. His supporters at the Command level share the blame. Since the new government took over the following cases have now gone to court.
a) Several policemen from the Leribe Police Station including the station Commander and head of the Criminal Investigation Division have been charged with the kidnapping and murder of another policeman Khetheng whose body was dumped away and then burrried as an unknown person. This is a curious case where Mokhosi, the former Minister of Defence and National Security is a co-accused with the policemen;
b) 3) Several soldiers have also been charged with attempted murder of several people including the former Commissioner of Police by detonating bombs in their houses;
c) Again, several soldiers have been charged of abducting and murdering three people who had been suspected of killing a soldier. They were cleared by the police. They were soon abducted and killed and their bodies dumped at Mohale Dam. The Lesotho and South African Police have been attempting to retrieve the bodies but without success now because of the depth of the dam and bad weather.
d) Several soldiers have been charged and remanded in custody for the murder of one young woman, Lisebo Tang and attempted murder of her male friend, Jane. Their only crime was that they were in a car close to the residence of Kamoli, then Commander of LDF. Their vehicle was sprayed with more than 120 bullets. But more important is that the LDF had the audacity to make the family of Ms Tang to sign an agreement not to reveal anything to anybody. The family was in return given R10,000 for funeral expenses and use of their skills to complete a two-roomed house which the family had started building. The arrogance of this agreement is unbelievable! Her life was not work anything! The following officers signed the agreement on behalf of the LDF:
1. LT. Col. Ramoqopo
2. Lt. Col. Phaila
3. Maj. Kebane
4. Capt. Makhoahle
5. 2nd Lt. Sello
There many more cases but these are an indicator that the militia had entrenched itself within the force. If as already pointed out, some of the suspects are in the Command, how can the police arrest them for the killings of Mahao and for High Treason?
Why the SADC force is necessary?
Kamoli is in custody and two of his key allies, Sechele and Hashatsi are dead but the bulk of the people who oversee the LDF now are tainted. Several senior officers who were not involved in the rebellion have just been released from Maximum Prison; others who were in exile have just arrived; and there are those other officers who had been tortured to implicate their colleagues who have now written to the Prime Minister indicating that their confessions were induced by violence. All the above categories are now on leave. The only group which is still in the barracks is those who were part of the militia and those who were intimidated to go along with the militia’s plans. It stands to reason that the rebellion has been pacified rather than suppressed. True in the face of the murder of Motšomotšo the militia’s belligerence has subsided.
The police so far have done a good job arresting some of the suspects in the crimes which have been committed. As of now, no suspects have been held about the murder of Lt. General Mahao; no suspects also have been arrested for the attempted coup of 30th August 2014. These are the test of the cooperation of the LDF with the police. The militia cannot arrest itself. The strategy so far has been to go around the main culprits rather than to confront those who run LDF.
The Contingent Force as we are aware has been tasked to work with rather than replace the LDF. It is a force which will act as a deterrent to the militia as security sector reforms are undertaken and as the SADC decisions are implemented. The reforms cannot be done with the gun held against the government head. That is a major reason for the deployment. It must be emphasised that the deployment is an anti-dote against rebellion.
The understanding which people like Cyril Ramaphosa has held that Lesotho problems are largely political is fundamentally flawed. Political problems exist in every country including South Africa. But the South African Defence Force has not rebelled against the government or got involved in political contestations. The lessons of 2015 where Lesotho went to hold elections before a rebellion was supressed has directly led to the current crisis which has seen lawlessness became the order of the day. It is important to fully understand that the major issue facing Lesotho is security. The differences amongst political actors can always be solved.
The Contingent Force is also according to SADC, is expected to mentor the Lesotho forces out of political activism into professionalism. It is sad therefore when people for either lack of understanding of the issues or opportunism begin to argue that there is no need for the Contingent Force. If Motšomotšo can be assassinated by his senior officers, what would stop the others to continue with the rebellion? Let me conclude by rejecting outright the view that Lesotho can solve its own problems and does not need a military intervention. It is a dangerous view like those which have ensured that from 2014 this country has been ungovernable. If the LDF cannot be reformed, it may need to be disbanded.
For Rt. Honourable Lt. General Kamoli, psc, MMG, MMD, MMMS, MSM, SADCM, JP I welcome you to the real world where people account for their crimes. I wish you a quick trial without the need to buy a freezer suit as you had advised Captain Seabata Chaka at the Maximum-Security Prison when he complained about the cold and ill health!

 

MMS/22/10/2017

The murder of Lt. General Motšomotšo: did the militia overreach itself?

Overview

Over the years in Lesotho, we have witnessed ordinary citizens and soldiers murdered with impunity by those who had the power of guns. The situation took a turn for the worst from 2014 when an army rebellion against the civilian government by the Command of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) which soon transformed the army and other security units into a militia serving the interests of its leader rather than those of the nation. The level of the killings went a notch higher when the militia murdered the Commander of the LDF Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao in 2015. The militia expected that his murder would go unpunished since the government was virtually in its pocket. That did not happen since SADC and other institutions insisted on accountability thus forcing the head of that militia, Lt. General Kamoli to be ultimately forced out of the army.

The new Commander Lt. General Motšomotšo pledged allegiance to the new government, but as fate had it, the central plank of the newly elected government was the implementation of SADC decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission Report. Motšomotšo had apparently told all Officers and the rest of the soldiers that government policy would be abided with and those who have cases to answer will have to do so. This was why he had to be eliminated. But his elimination could only be done as either an attempt to overthrow both the Command of the army and the government or such elimination would be achieved through what is akin to a suicide mission. The consequences of such elimination have proved, as events have shown, a tipping point for the dismantling of the militia.

When Hashatsi, Ramoepana and Sechele went to the Commander’s office to kill him on Tuesday 05/09/2017 they unleashed a process of dismantling of their killing machine, which they could not have anticipated. They killed the Commander, but not the Command; they did not overthrow the government; and more importantly they released an unstoppable anger in the country and beyond on their perennial murder spree without accountability. Hashatsi and Sechele died in their act of rebellion while Ramoepana and other conspirators will go on to tell the story when their trial begins. At the same time, SADC has now finally agreed to send a Contingent Force to ensure that this time the situation is brought under control.

Internal discord and fall-out after the murder

The murder of Motšomotšo as expected brought about an outcry even from unexpected sources within the military establishment. During his memorial service, figure after figure even those who were known to have participated in earlier crimes by the militia condemned the killing in no uncertain terms. Two outspoken ones in particular need to be mentioned because of the far-reaching implications for the survival of the militia as a unit operating within the force. First was Brigadier Mokaloba who said it was a shocking embarrassment that officers within the army committed such a heinous act .He wondered what the overall plan of those plotters who murdered the Commander was. What would have satisfied them?” he wondered. But more revealing was his next statement, which applied equally to those in the military and those of their supporters outside the establishment.

Mine is just to appeal to the people behind these heinous acts. These people met with others in the night and they were also together in the morning. On the day of the incident they met in the morning and dispersed and others when the incident came, they came late to the scene. Others are now disguising as though they are not part of this incident, but what’s important is for them to surrender….

The unmistakable thing is that Mokaloba seemed determined to portray himself and the rest of the Command as ready to dismantle the rogue elements which were ensconced in the army. But he also seemed to finger those outside the military who had been part of the plot to assassinate Motšomotšo. This was major turnaround by Mokaloba. He was one of those soldiers in 2014 who were implicated in the attempt to overthrow the government. Indeed in his evidence before the Phumaphi Commission, Mokaloba was a cantankerous witness who claimed unfailing loyalty to Kamoli, dismissing Mahao as having never been a Commander of LDF. Now that he has changed tack there is hope that the militia has begun to self-destruct.

Major-General Lineo Poopa, Acting Army Commander also came out clearly in the memorial service to apologise for having failed to protect the Commander. “We are ashamed that we failed to protect our commander and we failed the nation, we failed the whole continent and we are sorry,” said Poopa. He talked about what his murdered predecessor had committed himself to and promised to continue where he had stopped.
He clearly explained what the SADC decisions are and also gave them reasons why these SADC decisions must be implemented. And he said they shall happen in a manner in which they will not harm anyone, saying only rule of law shall prevail. And I’ve also reiterated his words last week Friday, and I so repeat that Lesotho’s soldiers shall not be in harm’s way, but rule of law shall be enforced…
…Those soldiers who have been listening to people from outside the army command have been derailed and dabbling in politics….

Both Poopa and Mokaloba had been deep in the Kamoli corner for sometime but they seem determined to prove that they can wriggle out of their transgressions of old. Indeed, several soldiers who were involved in the murder of Motšomotšo have since been arrested and some charged with murder. Even others, who were also involved in some other murder cases, have been arrested. Five including a Brigadier and a Captain were charged yesterday (25/09/2017). In essence, the militia by murdering Motšomotšo may have worked against its interests.

The apparent turnabout of some in the military to show remorse genuine or otherwise in order to placate the public and in order to save their jobs was not reflected in the opposition. While they could not ignore the killing of Motšomotšo there was an embarrassing ambivalence. They regretted the killings of three senior officers and called for a Commission of Inquiry. In their statement read by Prime Minister Mosisili, there seemed to be no sign of outrage at this only regret and a need for an inquiry. For Mosisili and his allies who were at the press conference, Motšomotšo’s murder was just a footnote on the unfortunate deaths. He thus seems to have invoked a moral equivalence to the cold blooded murder of Motšomotšo by the two senior officers and their killing by the former’s bodyguards. Indeed the death of Motšomotšo was tucked towards the end of their statement rather than as a standalone or at the beginning of such a statement.It is extremely disappointing!

SADC’S response to the murder

SADC’s response to the developments in Lesotho was to the dispatch of the Ministerial Fact Finding Mission. The Mission was led by the Angolan Minister of External Affairs Georges Pinto Chikoti supported by other Troika Ministers and Ambassadors. It is their report which was tabled to the meeting of the Double Troika Summit in Pretoria on the 15th September 2017. The Fact Finding Mission observed and noted that there is a need to ensure that long-term solutions to the Lesotho crisis are found by supporting the government to undertake on an urgent basis the security sector reforms. It is clear from this report that recognition is now firm in SADC circles that Security Sector Reform must precede the broader reform process. This is what had been missing in all earlier Facilitation exercises, which saw politics as opposed to security as the source of Lesotho’s unstable environment. Thus in 2015, SADC prescribed elections as a solution rather than to suppress the army rebellion. Following the murder of Motšomotšo SADC has now been disabused of the tinkering around with the security vacuum in Lesotho but wants it solved.

Amongst the observations of the Fact Finding Mission were the following:
a) The need for an urgent deployment of a military and security technical fact finding team from the Double Troika to assess the security environment and requirements to ensure that peace and security is brought back to Lesotho. The Terms of Reference of the team should include an assessment of the previous interventions of SADC in Lesotho from 1998;
b) The need for re-training and mentoring of the LDF and also the need to weed out politicisation within the LDF. The need to ensure that the law prohibits politicians from interfering in the work of the LDF;
c) The need to review the role to be played by the King on the overall control of the army.
The above amongst others, indicates that there is now a deeper level of commitment to go to the bottom of the security challenges in Lesotho. The fact that the assessment of the successes and failures of the previous interventions was recommended is a big improvement already. Almost thirty years after the intervention and reforms, Lesotho is still where it was those years.

The Double Troika ultimately approved the deployment of a Contingent Force the size of which will be determined by the SADC Military Chiefs who have already met in Luanda in Angola. The directive was :

..direct the Chiefs of Defence and Security to assess the requirements, determine the appropriate size of the Contingent Force, and to prepare modalities for the deployment by 22nd September 2017, based on which, the secretariat should facilitate an urgent deployment by 1st November 2017…

The only outstanding issues will be finalised by the Status of Forces Agreement which could be signed in the coming weeks. This will determine the specific role that the SADC force will play in the coming months but in line with the decisions of the Double Troika. The implications of the above decisions for the militia are huge. For the first time the militia would not have the last word on its future. By killing Motšomotšo, the militia may have signed its death warrant.

Conclusion. Case for SADC military deployment in Lesotho
It is worth reiterating that Lesotho has been under the spell of the army rebellion from 2014 and since then successive regimes have either have had to endure that or embrace the rebellion. The military held sway on all the decisions and operations of the government. The intermittent and ineffective SADC interventions from 2015 onwards only kicked the can down the road rather than help to suppress the rebellion. More importantly, is that a large number of senior officers who did not willingly join the rebellion were either held in jail or forced into exile, while the rebellious junior officers were rapidly promoted two times in less than fifteen months. Some of those jumped ranks and are now part of the Command. The two who assassinated their Commander, were some of the prominent beneficiaries of the accelerated promotions process. Incidentally, they were also involved in the 2015 murder of Lt. General Mahao. The question therefore is how the rebellious troops can purge themselves.
It is delusional to expect that those in the Command, including the Acting Commander, who were united in trying to stage a coup in August 2015 and in overseeing the suppression of other soldiers since 2014 can suddenly reform themselves. First, they are unlikely to receive the trust of their colleagues who have borne the brunt of the crackdown since 2015. Second, they have to deal with other soldiers who have committed crimes, but are not in position to acknowledge the skeletons in their cupboards. The evidence given by several soldiers and the former Commissioner of Police during the Phumaphi Commission should have removed any doubt in most peoples’ minds that the LDF as presently constituted has embraced crime as its standard rather than the law.

As already pointed out, several soldiers have now been arrested for crimes including the murder of Lt. General Motšomotšo but nobody has yet been arrested for the bombings, High Treason, and the murder of both Sub-Inspector Ramahloko and Lt. General Mahao. It is those crimes which, unless a bargain is entered into, which will affect most of the members of the present Command of the LDF. This is why you need a Contingent Force to cleanse the organisation. Those in the Command who will remain need retraining and long-term observation. What we don’t need is the game which has been played by the current foreign mission at LDF which has been ensconced there but the military ethos has deteriorated while they are supposed to be training them to be professional.
Those later day converts to the view that we don’t need SADC troops in Lesotho are at best naive and at best opportunistic. No militia can dismantle itself. It has to be dismantled by someone with superior force or one perceived to have overwhelming force. SADC has committed itself to have its decisions implemented within the law. That’s what the Contingent Force will be expected to oversee.

We in lesothoanalysis wholeheartedly welcome our neighbours who have coming to put out the fire set on by the militia so that peace and stability returns to Lesotho.

 

Murder, politicians and rebellious soldiers

Murder as a political instrument in the 1990s
As I travel around the world and in social media, the constant question I tend to get is why do things like the killing of the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) last week happen? People have often also asked why when murder is such a horrendous crime, there is a pattern of protecting the culprits in Lesotho? Say what you want, this has become a routinised practice in Lesotho where senior military, senior police and politicians, some in uniform, have killed and attempted to hide their tracks. But murder has also tended to be followed by quite a lot of turmoil and subsequent changes at the top. It happened twice during the turbulent years of our never to be forgotten Military Council in the early 1990s; it happened in 2014 as part of attempted coup; it happened again in 2015 with the murder of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao; it happened again in March 2016 with the murder of Khetheng; and yet again it happened a week ago with the murder of Lt. General Mots’omot’so by some of his underlings.

Briefly murder and attempts to hide its commission has been a characteristic way in which those in office have tended to consolidate their rule. It has however been part of their undoing. During the early 1990s it emerged that the then Chairman of the Military Council, Major General Lekhanya, at the dead of night shot and killed a 21 year old student at the Lesotho Agricultural College by the name of Ramone. The initial strategy was to attempt to order a bodyguard who was with Lekhanya to make a false statement to the police claiming responsibility. This was however blown away by then Attorney General Maope who advised against that. Maope in a secret letter argued that, Mojakhomo, the bodyguard could not have shot the student because it was Mojakhomo who stayed with Ramone’s female companion and drove her to the police station. “I do not think Sgt. Mojakhomo is telling the truth,” the attorney general said in his memorandum, warning that the bodyguard is likely to break down under cross-examination at a public inquiry and reveal the truth about the shooting.

I am informing you of this matter so that you may persuade Sgt. Mojakhomo to be honest and reveal the identity of his companion that night. It might be better if the truth was told now to avoid any possible embarrassment to the government.

That strategy was abandoned but the inquest was fixed so that Lekhanya was absolved. This was however not before his opponents in the Military Council had attempted to use that to force him out of office. They failed because at least one of them had his own skeletons which Lekhanya was aware of. Colonel Sekhobe Letsie’s involvement in the kidnapping and brutal murder of two former Ministers, Makhele and Sixishe together with their wives two years earlier. This gruesome murder had been hidden until the raptures within the Military Council were broad to the surface by the murder of Ramone by Lekhanya. Having been cleared in a fixed inquest, Lekhanya moved swiftly to arrest Letsie and dismiss three other of his allies in the Military Council. Letsie went on to be convicted of murder and served several years in prison. This was result of murder. Both competitors, had callously murdered people at different times, but when one tried to use the murder of a student by the other, an even more gruesome murder was used to vanquish the opponent.

In both these cases above murder by key personnel precipitated the changes at state level. But more importantly, in both cases, gigantic attempts to hide and protect the murderers took place. Significantly, the two figures that murdered and doubled in politics, left a culture of impunity and can rightly are labelled as having laid the foundations of the present politicised army and its murderous track record. Not only did both of those emerge from the police into the army, but they left in both institutions, a legacy of unaccountability.

Politicians and the rebellion
Over and above the politicians in uniform as the two examples above have illustrated, and those I will deal with below, we have had a clearly visible and declared rebellion in the army since 2014. This rebellion was fuelled by some politicians, and later adopted by the government after the 2015 elections. Let us recall that early in 2014 three related incidents took place which formally brought to the broader public that there was a full scale military rebellion whereby the civilian government had lost control over the military.

 One Captain Hashatsi of the Special Forces, who as we learned later, answered directly to the Commander of the LDF pronounced that the then Commander of the LDF could not be removed from office by the government as long as he was alive. Rather than to discipline him a senior officer, Brigadier Mahao was court-marshalled for reprimanding Hashatsi. Hashatsi was to reiterate his stance publicly while giving evidence before the Phumaphi Commission which had been established by SADC following the murder of Lt. General Mahao;

 In January 2014 bombs by some of the rebellious soldiers were exploded in both the residences of the Prime Minister’s partner and that of the Commissioner of Police. This was probably an assassination attempt but it was an ominous sign that the rebellion had taken a new turn;

 In March 2014 in a Press Conference, Kamoli made it clear that he could not be removed by anybody. He went further to indicate that the attempt by Prime Minister Thabane to cancel the court-martial of Mahao would not stand and Prime Minister had been ill-advised. This was unprecedented and indicated that the rebellion was now in full force.

The developments leading to the attempted coup of 30th August 2014 were part of the rebellion. It is during that episode that Sub Inspector Ramahloko of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) was brutally murdered by the rebellious soldiers. We all know that those who killed him were shielded from the courts by the de facto LDF Commander who had refused to leave office when he was dismissed. It is the same attitude to earlier ones, where murder has been a political instrument. Just like the murder of Makhele, Sixishe and their wives, Ramahloko’s murder took time to be accounted for, but it is one of the issues which have begun to bring about tumult within the LDF and cold blooded murder of its latest Commander.

Throughout this period, one sees a consistent hand which aligned with the rebellion. In the past, we could only deduce who the owners of these hands which were stirring up things in the LDF were, but from September 2014 to the present, those who were in the background, came to the fore. Shortly after the attempted coup, the then Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing began to project himself as an alternative Prime Minister. Thus after the announcement that Kamoli had been dismissed as Commander of the LDF, Metsing went on television to declare that Kamoli remains as the Commander of the force. Indeed, from then onwards no other person other than him and those in alliance with him were allowed on national television. But more significantly both Metsing’s party, Lesotho Congress for Democracy, LCD, and Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress, which had been in power till the 2012 elections, publicly supported Kamoli’s defiance to leave office.

Tlohang Sekhamane who later became Lesotho Foreign Minister and later Finance Minister, went so far as to say that any attempt to remove Kamoli from office would lead to a bloodbath in Lesotho. Thus the invisible hand had now come to the open. As all those things were happening, the opposition parties allied to the rebellion and the LCD which was in government and opposing government, said absolutely nothing about the murder of Ramahloko. Murder had become routinised. It was no longer something that people worried about.

Post-2015 elections and adoption of the rebellion
The post-2015 elections led to the formation of a seven party coalition government led by Pakalitha Mosisili. One of the first things which the new government did was to remove the Commander of the LDF and re-appoint Kamoli as Commander retrospectively to 30/08/2014 the day he was removed from office. A witch-hunt against soldiers who were perceived to have accepted the new Commander in 2014 was begun. More than sixty soldiers were kidnapped, taken to the Setibing army camp and severely tortured. Some of those were later released while twenty three were ultimately charged in a court martial for mutiny. The kangaroo court they were being subjected to where the complainants, were now either prosecutors or part of the panel to judge them was vigorously opposed by lawyers to no avail. The court martial however never took place and is on the verge of being dissolved.

This witch-hunt culminated in the murder of the former Commander who had just been removed from office by some of those self-declared supporters of Kamoli. Mahao, was waylaid just outside Mokema, where he comes from and killed. Murder had once again surfaced and the government of the day attempted to hide behind the distinction between individual responsibility and also the responsibility of the state. Sechele, who before the High Court and also before the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry declared himself as the Operation Commander, argued that soldiers should not be individually held responsible since they were undertaking an authorised operation. .

The national and international outcry following the murder of Mahao was matched by the silence of the government on bringing the murderers to account. The government’s hand was however finally moved to accept the setting up of an international commission of inquiry. That however did not mean that the government had finally accepted that the rebellion had gone out of hand. On the contrary evidence by the Prime Minister, his deputy and the Minister of Defence and National Security gave a picture of a government which was trying all it could to protect the murderous. Typical of answerers of government to the Phumaphi Commission were the following:

 Prime Minister Mosisili reluctantly accepted that Lt. General Mahao was legally appointed but argued that Kamoli had been removed unfairly. He expressed his full confidence in Kamoli but claimed he did not know circumstances of the operation to arrest or kill Mahao;

 Deputy Prime Minister Metsing stuck to his guns, that Kamoli was never legally removed from office. On the operation to arrest or kill Mahao, he accepted the version that Mahao was involved in a mutiny and died resisting arrest;

 Minister of Defence and National Security, Mokhosi, got a verbal report about the existence of a mutiny and gave authorisation to investigate. He claimed to know nothing about the investigations and the detention of soldiers since those are soldiers “things”. In essence according to Mokhosi, he needed not to know anything since the soldiers know best what to do. The rebellion had not only succeeded but seems to had taken over the government.

While the above are indicative, the most significant development took place when the Phumaphi Commission was about to complete its work. It is at this time that government withdrew its cooperation to the Commission. This was probably when it became clear that the Commission would not whitewash the matter under investigation. The evidence which took place in South Africa from exiles was boycotted by government lawyers. Hashatsi, who had been recalled as a witness, launched an urgent application in the High Court to stop the Commission from continuing with its work. Interestingly the respondents were the Prime Minister and Attorney General who had been linked with Hashatsi. Even the lawyers of the government and in the Commission and those who launched the case were the same. The conspiracy was clearly that Mosisili should not respond to the application so that Hashatsi would get a favourable judgement. This was however frustrated by Mrs Mahao who applied to be part of that suit.

The government then began to argue that the Phumaphi Commission report should not be released until the courts had completed Hashatsi’s case. This was unacceptable to SADC. But these actions indicate clearly that the government was not in charge. It had surrendered to the rebellion hence whatever Kamoli or Hashatsi said had to stay the way they wanted it to be. Murder had not only been legitimised, but attempts like providing an amnesty to all those in the army and the police and also civilians who thought they were acting to protect the state became necessary.
Dissolving the militia
After three and half years where the rebellion held sway, a new government took over in June 2017. The government from the beginning made it clear that the old order was going to disappear. Prime Minister Thabane during his inauguration spelled out that the civilian control over the army was not negotiable. He further announced that he was going to implement the decisions of SADC emanating from the Phumaphi Commission. These two announcements indicated that the rebellion was going to be ended. But the difficulty was that from 2015 most of the leaders of that rebellion had been rewarded with promotions leading them to be part of the Command. Some of those skipped ranks, and were promoted twice in fifteen months. Implementing those decisions which required suspension and investigation of their crimes was necessarily going to be difficult unless there was an external support.

At the same time, a newly appointed Commander of LDF from the beginning seemed determined to bring the army under the control of the government. His murder was directly related to his acceptance of the principle of civilian control over the army. Mot’somot’so had apparently told the army that all those who have cases to answer for their crimes will have to as part of the implementation of SADC decisions. The day he was murdered was preceded by the decision to sent three Commandos who were implicated in the murder of Lisebo Tang near the residence of the former Commander of the LDF Lt. General Kamoli. After she was killed her family was intimidated from talking to anybody about the murder by Kamoli’s guards and were given M10.000 funeral expenses. This was how the army behaved. They murder and know that they are immune from the law.

Government sources indicate that a day before Mot’somot’so was murdered, he had released several officers who had gone beyond retirement age. Some of the names in that list are known to have been very active members of the militia who face criminal prosecution. Terminating their contracts, sent a clear message that Mot’somot’so wanted to follow a different route from that of his predecessor. Thus on Tuesday 05/09/2017 when the Commandos were sent to the police, the tension was already high. Reports indicate that three officers went to Commander’s office and accused him of selling them out to both the police and the government. Calmly Mot’somot’sio is reported to have told them that they should wait outside until he had finished talking to a guest in the office and he would explain to them why it had to be so. One of those pulled a gun and shot him dead. It is when they went out of that office that the guards shot both Hashatsi and Sechele. The third officer whose identity I don’t know escaped but has since been arrested. As a result of the seniority of those soldiers who went on to kill the Commander, the guards were obviously constrained from stopping them to go to the Commander’s office even if they were armed.

This is characteristic of the way they had behaved over the years. They answered to no one but Kamoli who shared their view of the world. With Kamoli out of LDF, there was bound to be trouble for anyone trying to dismantle his militia. Mot’somot’so died trying to do what any Commander should do. It could have been anyone. The task of dismantling a militia is not an easy one. A few months ago, I warned that the militia no longer has the capacity to overthrow the government. It however retains the power to assassinate and cause disruption. This is what the two rebels did in desperation because they knew that their days of freedom to kill were numbered. They killed the second Commander of the army within two years. Any delay to dismantle the militia will certainly lead to more deaths. I was however encouraged by the statements by the current leadership of LDF in Mot’somot’so’s memorial service yesterday that they will hunt and bring to justice all those who were involved in the murder of Mot’somot’so.
May he rest in peace!

 

MMS/12/09/2017

 

Protecting our government from itself: why Yan Xie has to go!

You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.― James Madison, The Federalist Papers

Overview
The relationship between the government and the people can be as simple as Madison’s, one of the founders of the United States Constitution, put it in the The Federalist Papers. The principle is simple. The people give the government control over themselves and the government learns to control itself. It is not about the legal constraints that may or may not exist. It is about knowing what is right and what is wrong. The relations between the government and the people in the final analysis are regulated by moral ethical issues and self-regulation. Let no one say,” I can do it.” It is about whether it should be done and whether it is the right thing to do.

The June 2017 elections in Lesotho removed a government which had outlived its usefulness as a result of lack of accountability and also rampant corruption. The expectations of those like me who voted were high and we do not want to go back to the trenches with the new government. But the new government must at the same time show that it respects the people. It is not enough to say that the people have conferred power to the government; such a government in Madison’s terms is obliged to control itself. Let us not hear any of the government surrogates uttering the usual mumbo jumbo that it is the prerogative of the Minister or the Prime Minister to do certain things. We have to see the difference between what we rejected and what we voted for. Prerogatives are not a licence to do whatever one wants. They are expected to be exercised with diligence.

Let us also not hear the surrogates telling us about the honeymoon period! Only human beings deserve such. Institutions need no respite from public pressure and are not entitled to a honeymoon. The people gave the government power to rule, but not to disrespect them. The announcement by the Acting Government Secretary to the effect that “….the Office of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister has appointed Mr Yan Xie as the Lesotho Head of Special Projects and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy and Trade Advisor on China-Asia Trade Network “brought a chill down my spine. At first I thought it was fake news, but soon realised that it was not. Our government had acted in a manner that brings shame to us as citizens.

In every country there are places and institutions in government which are restricted or protected from everyday interactions and people. The office of the Prime Minister is one such place. In all the countries of the world, offices like those are sensitive and places of pride. Those are places where it would not be acceptable to find foreign nationals, heading strategic organs. I already hear, the usual mumbo jumbo that Xie is a naturalised Mosotho. I have lived through all post colonial governments in Lesotho and have witnessed with horror how those naturalisations or outright sale of Lesotho passports have taken place. This is how, a large number of countries which used to allow visa free travel for Lesotho citizens withdrew those privileges. I’m not impressed. Xie may have been naturalised, but it is well-known that he is not clean. Xie is probably the biggest corruptor in Lesotho.

I will therefore not waste my time trying to find out whether he got Lesotho citizenship legitimately or otherwise. Those who the time and energy may follow us other things in Australia before they howl, oh he is a citizen. I’m reminded that in South Africa close by we have some corruptors who have also acquired South African citizenship under opaque circumstances. We are now witnessing a clamour for a judicial inquiry whether they have captured the state. Issues about citizenship and loyalty to the state are too complex to be discussed in a flippant manner that government surrogates would like us to do. In some countries issues of nationality and citizenship are taken so seriously that there are stipulations on what a naturalised citizen can and cannot do. The Australian cabinet crisis shows the sensitive nature of citizenship.

More importantly as already alluded to above, Xie is a well known personality in Lesotho. His business empire is in retail, construction, and pharmaceutical and the meat industry. Except in retail and construction, his businesses are takeovers under opaque circumstances of government businesses. But also significant is that, he tends to hide his real ownership of most of those businesses, claiming that he finances them but does not own them. Fortunately Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has not bought into his claims. The question therefore is who exactly is Yan Xie? We have to explore whether Xie has the necessary credibility to Head a unit in the Prime Minister’s Office, let alone be a “..Prime Minister’s Special envoy…”

Yan Xie’s world
Yan Xie has been in business in Lesotho for a long time now. He is generally regarded as the leader of what has come to be called the Shanghai group of Chinese in Lesotho who run all types of businesses from cafes to construction. They generally are under his wing. Xie represents them and often collects donations from them for distribution when need arises. Xie knows and sponsors most politicians who matter in Lesotho. It was well known that since 2006 his Jackpot Supermarket was a shop of choice for several ministers, who did not have to pay for their routine grocery requirements. In return Xie is well looked after with government tenders and acquisition of government businesses whenever they go for sale. It is through his connections that he has been able to acquire the Lesotho Pharmaceutical Company in Mafeteng and Meraka Lesotho Abattoir among others. In all those acquisitions, Xie does not tender, but charms his way to politicians whom he sponsors in any case.

Xie acquired his citizenship on 22/12/2006 in terms of Certificate No: NAT.23/2006. There is no need for now to spell out the background to his naturalisation. But it is important to note that at that time up to the present, Xie has brought under his wing politicians of all stripes and used his Jackpot Supermarket before it was reconstituted, as a cash cow for several ministers. In addition, he has dished out money and other favours to a long list of politicians including funding their election campaigns. Being a benefactor of the powerful, Xie had become untouchable until LRA summoned the courage to investigate him culminating in his 2011 debacle where several of his businesses were raided and closed for some time for suspicion of fraud.

In reports at the time Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) suspected that Xie had been understating tax obligations for Jackpot Supermarket, his other retail shops and the two construction companies. He was also suspected of making false customs declarations for goods that his businesses imported from South Africa. Overall LRA suspected that he owed over M20 million in taxes for submitting documents which understated his income; he also understated his customs funds obligations, and generally did not run a clean business. With the assistance of the police, most of his known businesses were raided and closed. The benefactors of Xie were up in arms, but LRA stood its ground.

Two things are important here:
a)all known businesses of Xie were closed while LRA went on with its investigations. It is not known whether and how much Xie settled his obligations since LRA does not disclose such issues about its clients unless there is a court order. But what is known is that Xie liquidated his businesses and months later resumed business under new companies. The old companies which owed LRA no longer existed. As a result of the closure and the liquidation of those companies a number of local companies which were owed money had no alternative but to write-off substantial amounts of moneys owed. One company whose records I have seen wrote off almost M500, 000 of the debts Xie’s company owed.
b) Xie also runs a lot of companies as a silent or a hidden partner. For example he ran a company called Jackpot Wholesalers which was under a different organisation as opposed to Jackpot Supermarket. He claimed then that he was not the owner but the financier of that wholesale. It was closed, but I have no confirmation that it was liquidated like the other companies. He has a string of such companies.

The picture which emerges out of Xie’s dealings is of an extremely devious person whose business modus operandi is one of a corruptor as we deal with below. Xie doesn’t care about those businesses as long as they are a front and a means through which he stays in the front seat for government tenders. He is a ruthless tenderpreneur.

As a result of his connections, Xie has acquired several government linked businesses as already mentioned. But more significant, is that in most of the businesses he has acquired are run by some of the people who gave him the tenders without tendering. For now I will resist the temptation to mention them by name, but should the need arise, I’m more than willing to expose the scams our new envoy is engaged in. He has also won a large number of government construction businesses from Metolong to closer home in Maseru. I now know that he is already circling around to be awarded a contract to complete a new State House without tender. Xie has no shame!

Whenever he is assured of winning a government tender without going through the normal process, he is willing to do so. But quite often he uses his surrogates to tender while he lobbies for them in government. As soon as they win the tender Xie either takes over directly by buying them off or uses one of his well known tricks of saying that he finances that business. This is exactly what happened recently in the scandalous police uniform tender whereby Xie’s surrogates were awarded a tender illegitimately and then he won the trophy by buying out the main shareholder and Director of the company. Without doing anything but use his influence he had a M7, 000,000 police uniform tender. The matter is still running its course in the lethargic Lesotho courts but by the time judgement is issued, Xie’s time as a supplier of police uniforms will probably have expired. He will have fulfilled the terms of the contract and those who challenged will probably win a Pyrrhic victory. If they ultimately win several years down the line, the best they can get is to sue for compensation.

An interesting thing here is that Xie is an ever smiling character but he has around him a former police officer who does his other dirty work. People know that this is the guy who navigates Xie from falling in the hands of the law enforcement officers. If in Lesotho, we can have a person charged for delaying to register with the tax authorities, but it only remains with LRA to wrestle him and no charges follow you should know that something is wrong. Both his connections and the connections of his police friend matter!
The question therefore is whether Xie is fit for office? Is he a fit and proper person to be appointed to such an important position?

Why Yan Xie must go!
Anybody who understands global developments knows that China is an evolving economic superpower. Over and above the setting up of BRICS funding mechanisms, China has established and committed billions of dollars in development finance for Africa over the past decade as Beijing seeks to secure its political and economic clout on the continent. Any country in the world, developed or developing is scrambling to have a share in development finance and trade with this emerging giant. Dealing with this giant requires an active engagement and also sensible strategies lest one chases a passing chimera. This is why most countries, have established specific Councils which are able to strategies on how to take advantage of the potential development and trade bonanza. It is not just about grabbing anybody who is from China and assigning him to head special projects and become an envoy. More critically it is about identifying knowledgeable and credible people who could advance our interests as a country. I fear that the global business community will see us as a captured state with a corruptor as our envoy.
Xie is far from such a person. The only skill he has is as a corruptor not as a business guru. Let us just consider what he has done with “these gifts” of the businesses he has acquired as a first step. None of those businesses have prospered. He, for all intents and purposes runs a medium size supermarket and those businesses he has been gifted by successive regimes in Lesotho. The rest of his empire is dependent on government tenders.
In most countries, for people to be eligible to key positions, they require that an ethics test be passed. This is a test which attempts to find out whether the person is a fit and proper one to be entrusted with key responsibilities. Unfortunately in Lesotho, our system does not require people to be evaluated on their ethically propriety. Indeed, if Xie was evaluated, on the basis of his business dealings alone, he would have been barred from assuming any public office. He has sponsored key people in the old regime and he sponsors others in the present regime. For now, I will not release the nature and extent of the sponsorship, but am horrified how people are indebted to him.

This is why I call upon the government to release Xie from his appointment in order not to continue to embarrass us. We have gone through too much to be settled with a corruptor. To both the old regime and the present one, I wish them silence. The old regime doesn’t have to do anything but keep quiet about Xie. For the new regime, we only require them to release Xie from his post. I don’t think it will be good for anybody if we were to engage in a damaging debate about the extent of Xie’s control over them. This government needs to be protected from itself. The opposition is too weak to pose any danger to this government, but the recklessness of this government on this matter will ensure that it does not last five years. Let me repeat Xie’s sponsorship of key politicians in Lesotho is extensive and those who want to challenge me on this are advised to seat back and relax lest all is revealed. Xie must go!
MMS/21/08/2017

The police who kidnap, torture and kill colleagues. Understanding Khetheng’s fate

It took more than fifteen months of dodging and ducking by the police to hide what had happened to their colleague, Mokalekale Khetheng who had disappeared in their hands; it took about fifteen months for the Mosisili regime to devise and attempt to hide the well-known secret of the murder of Khetheng; it took more than twelve months for an urgent habeas corpus application in the High Court to be finalised (today 14/08/2017 judgement is expected to be delivered in the High Court). But it took just two weeks for the new Acting Commissioner of Police to have suspects in the murder arrested, charged and the body of Khetheng exhumed. This is a sign that Lesotho’s criminal justice system is broken. It is however redeemable. The arrest of several senior police officers for murder is indicative that the cancer which was spreading within the police service can be stopped.

Of all the abhorrent things which happened in Lesotho since 2015 when the Mosisili regime took over, none was as fundamental in undermining the rule of law as the systematic dismantling of the police service and creating in its place a murderous militia made up of army, intelligence, and police officers. The establishment of a Joint Police and Army Unit signalled the beginning of the end of a professional police service which did not see civilians as enemies of the state. It has since emerged that both the National Intelligence Service agents and the police were now being trained on military intelligence as opposed to their traditional skills. I applaud the Acting Commissioner of Police for having dispensed with that a week after he took over.

The Khetheng case is one illustration of how far the rot had gone in turning a law enforcement organ into a criminal unit. Though some of the suspects in Khetheng’s kidnap and murder were generally senior officers, the bigger question will remain whether they were their own agents or whether they were under superior orders to murder Khetheng. For purposes of this article, we are trying to understand the modus operandi of this criminal syndicate. If those who committed crimes were willing idiots, the question will remain why the majority of untainted police officers became complicit? How can one explain the fact that it only came to the courage of one of the most junior policewoman, ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko to break ranks thus providing a lead to the arrest of the syndicate? But more importantly, who is accountable for the existence and protection of this criminal gang which kidnapped, tortured, killed and hid Khetheng’s body for almost ten months? It is no use jailing the foot soldiers if the mastermind goes free!

The plot to kidnap Khetheng

March 26th 2016 is the day that Mokalekale Khetheng was arrested by four police officers while he was in a feast at Sebothoane, just outside Hlotse in Leribe where he was taken to. He was apparently out on bail for an alleged arson in Mokhotlong where he was based. His arrest from the beginning, as evidence emerged later, was not accidental. In two unrelated cases at the Lesotho High Court, the elements of the plot against Khetheng emerged. First was the application for a habeas corpus by Khetheng’s father which was launched in June 2016 after he received unsatisfactory response from Leribe police regarding the whereabouts of his missing son. The second case was an application in the High Court by Policewoman ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko who was challenging her transfer from Hlotse Police Station to Tlalinyane police station after refusing to lie about the whereabouts of Khetheng.

Makotoko whose evidence became central to both cases in an affidavit revealed that she feared for her live, should she be transferred from her station where she is well-known and has insights into the disappearance of Khetheng. She suspected that she would be killed if she were to be transferred before the case of Khetheng has been finalised in the courts. This statement on its own was significant since it revealed that the police kill those who may reveal their evil deeds. Makotoko spelled out that it was generally understood, that Khetheng has been killed. She did not reveal the suspects, but by confronting Mofolo, Head of CID in Leribe, it was clear that she was pretty certain that Mofolo either killed Khetheng or handed him to those who killed him. Mofolo was handed both Khetheng and the handcuffs, and the latter was never seen alive thereafter. A trainee at Police Training College would have solved that case within weeks!
The plot to hide traces of him had been laid a long time before Khetheng was arrested. This is why police were instructed to arrest him but not bring him to the police station. In evidence in the High Court, policewoman Makotoko testified that their senior at Hlotse Police station, telephonically instructed them to move around with Khetheng after his arrest rather than to take him to the police cells. They did not do so since they were hungry and wanted to go for their lunch

She testified that after arresting Khetheng with three other police officers at Sebothoane on March 26, 2016 they brought him to their police station in Hlotse where they handed him to the then Inspector Mofolo who was heading the Leribe Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

She explained that when they were about to enter the police station gate, they found Inspector Mofolo already waiting for them by the gate. He asked them to hand to him the vehicle key and they left Khetheng with him while they took two other suspects they brought from Ha Khabo into the charge office. Makotoko further testified that Mofolo asked for a handcuff which she gave him and indicated and that was the last she saw Khetheng. The lead was clear. Mofolo was a key part of the plot to arrest Khetheng, and hide his whereabouts. He was apparently desperate that police records should not show that he ever arrived at the police station. Being head of the criminal investigation division in the district, Mofolo knew that the paper trail is an important part of investigations. His tactics and those of his accomplices, succeeded in warding off investigations on Khetheng’s whereabouts for over fifteen months. The attempt to hide their tracks might have succeeded but for the bravery of the two female police officers who refused to dishonor their badge .Their two male colleagues pathetically accepted lie for their seniors. With heads down after their arrest, they apparently have confessed that they lied under oath in the High Court.

When the plotters were now faced with an application for habeas corpus in the High Court, their well rehearsed strategy of obfuscation became clear. They would make bland denials and attempt to delay the case until; hopefully the Khetheng family gave up. It was a well-known strategy of government lawyers in the past few months to attempt to delay cases if they felt they were on flimsy ground. We therefore expected that they would attempt to block the habeas corpus application from speedily proceeding. It would be cases of the police are studying the matter; there was snow in the mountains where Khetheng used to work; or the Commissioner of police has been away. The funny thing about the snow issue in court was that Khetheng was arrested or kidnapped in Leribe not in Mokhotlong. The snow issue was clearly just to ensure that the case did not proceed speedily. Delaying cases is such a well-rehearsed strategy that I had dared one of the lawyers involved in the case after one postponement, that the case would be made to track until 2017. He did not believe me, but it did.

Over and above the usual delaying tactics, the police claimed that Khetheng had been dismissed for desertion. In an opposing affidavit, Officer Commanding Hlotse Police Station Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu alleged that Khetheng absconded from duty from 11 Mar2016 and never reported back to work. Whether he was still a serving police officer or not was irrelevant. The Khetheng family wanted his body to be produced by those who know where he was. While this did not really matter in a habeas corpus application, the police assertions were meant to justify why they had not launched an investigations on the disappearance of a serving police officer. He was no longer in the police service, he argued.

To confound this matter even further, the response of the Commissioner of Police, to the police Union was more astounding. In their Annual General Meeting, the Union wanted to know the fate of Khetheng. Rather than respond to the query, Molahlehi Letsoepa said the missing cop was not a member of LEPOSA and he could not comment on the matter as it was before the courts of law. This is startling! Whether Khetheng was a member of the Union or not is not relevant. A law enforcement officer under Letsoepa had disappeared but he felt that his best bet is to hide behind union membership. If he did not know more than he has been ready to talk about, why did Letsoepa attempt to transfer Makotoko and later fire her for insubordination? The investigations are likely to reveal more than what we presently know.

Torture, murder and hiding Khetheng’s corpse

The elaborate plan to hide circumstances surrounding Khetheng’s disappearance in Leribe have failed and the body which the family has identified as that of Khetheng is now under DNA checks. The matter which however has come to the fore as preliminary viewing of the body has revealed is that Khetheng was severely tortured and probably died of that or a suspected gunshot on the head. The post-mortem results will probably not be made available before the trial. But to the naked eye, Khetheng died a gruesome death. The murder trial will probably give an indication on how he died and what were the motives for such a gruesome death. This sadistic killing, by police on another is unbelievable even though it is true. The police had become sadistic killing machines!

It is not clear yet, where and how Khetheng was killed, but his body was dumped at or near a rural police station in Maseru, at least 120 km from where he was last seen in Leribe. The discovery of the body at Ha Mokhalinyane did not trigger any alarm bells since Khetheng’s disappearance had not been made known to police and the public. As fate had it, the scene was attended to by a professional policeman who was meticulous on records and details. This was to become crucial when the body was discovered where it was buried. Khetheng’s picture and his clothes were to be matched with the body and clothes in the grave. after exhumation. He was moved from ha Mokhanyane soon after he attended the corpse which was found around the police station Again as fate had it, the policeman who headed that Mokhalinyane Police station, was part of the five men team which is now conducting investigations on Khetheng’s disappearance. What was the plan to dispose of the body is also what has shown the hand of those who planned the killing.

After the body was found near ha Mokhalinyane Police Station, it was sent to the Lesotho Funeral Service mortuary at Ha ‘Majane and kept there for three months. The body was then moved to another Lesotho Funeral Service mortuary at Ha ‘Mant’sebo until it was finally moved to the Maseru mortuary a day before unknown corpses which had been there for more than two years were to be buried at Lepereng cemetery. All these movements could not have been made by the Leribe police since this area does not fall within their area of operation. It was all done by the C.I.D. personnel probably in Maseru Head Office.

Another puzzling thing about these movements of Khetheng’s body is that he had been dead less than two years, yet his body was tucked in with those of unknown people who had died more than two years. The complicity of some of the staff at Lesotho Funeral Service in this crime is obvious. If Khetheng’s body was not in Maseru at the time preparations for the burial of unknown corpses were being prepared for burial, how is it that the plaque with his details was already inscribed with those which had been in Maseru for over two years? As investigations proceed, I hope they will be able to provide clarity. The weekend three of those employees of Lesotho Funeral Service spent with the police, before they were released today should have provided indicators. of who was in charge of that operation .

There is a saying that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. As I recall two senior police officers, Mofolo and Tšukulu who had been rewarded with promotions after the grisly murder of Khetheng have now been charged with murder. It took them just one day in police custody to lead investigators to the place they had buried Khetheng. Knowing what they had done to Khetheng, they probably feared for the worst if they did not cooperate. Indeed, sources indicate that an even senior police officer has confessed to a magistrate about the killing of Khetheng. That indicates that there are some at the pinnacle of the police management who are also expected to be arrested. Indeed the Acting Commissioner of speaking to policemen at Mazenod indicated that “…More people are still going to be arrested in connection with Khethen’s death…”

Conclusion

I have attempted to bring to the fore the fact that these macabre killings in Lesotho had spread but are now being committed by the police. But more importantly, the previous government attempted to politically defend and protect the criminals who kidnapped and murdered Khetheng. In Parliament in response to a question by a Member of Parliament for Mokhotlong on Khetheng’s disappearance, the Acting Minister of Police, who unfortunately is a lawyer by profession, obfuscated and tried to ultimately use the well-worn-out argument that the matter is now in the courts. He denied that the government had anything to do with his unknown disappearance.

In the courts, the government employed a Senior Council to defend against the Khetheng family’s application to have the body of Khetheng produced. They used every delaying tactic to ensure that Mofolo who was last seen with Khetheng did not testify. When he was supposed to do it was too late. But Tšukulu who headed the Leribe Police Station testified claiming that he has no knowledge of the whereabouts of Khetheng. Both have now been charged of murder. It shows that those who dishonour the badge are not only at the junior levels of the police. Indeed the two female police officers at Hlotse are worth more that Mofolo and T’sukulu combined in honour. The deserve an award for bravery if there is one like that.

Like in the LDF, the recent promotions of policemen have revealed that those who commit crimes were rewarded with hefty promotions. Indeed some of those promotions which were processed and announced on Sunday 04/06/2017, a day of the elections, have now been cancelled. The bulk of the beneficiaries have questions to answer for several high level crimes.

But who ultimately is accountable for this miserable state of affairs in the collapse of the criminal justice system? Does this end with the police? Aren’t those political bosses who facilitated and protected criminals also accountable? History will judge!

 

MMS/14/08/2015

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