From September/October 2016 we have pronounced the imminent fall of Lesotho Prime Minister Mosisili’s government. That has not happened for one reason or another. After more than fifteen years as Prime Minister, Mosisili has learned how to avoid traps. Cunning as he may be. he now knows that even the most politically astute politician can postpone but not avoid his Waterloo moment. By the judgment of the Lesotho High Court, Mosisili won control of the Democratic Congress (DC) against the executive committee of his party which had sought to oust him. He however realised that his victory was not worth anything since his nemesis in the party; Monyane Moleleki walked out and formed a new party supported by no less than 50% of Members of Parliament. That left him leading a minority coalition government. It must be remembered that Mosisili’s coalition was made up of seven coalition partners most of whom had only one seat each in parliament. When twenty three members joined Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD), Mosisili remained with at most 42 coalition members of parliament in a 120 seat body.
Moleleki had earlier on formalised his agreement with All Basotho Convention (ABC, with the support of the two other exiled political leaders of the Basotho National Party (BNP), and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), to form a new coalition government. The numbers of that prospective coalition are over seventy. To make matters worse for Mosisili, his Deputy Prime Minister’s party Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which was the second biggest in terms of numbers in the coalition government, has also dramatically split. The Secretary General of the Party, Selibe Mochoboroane has now formed his party called Movement for Economic Change (MEC). That makes Mosisili’s prospects for survival even bleaker. He probably only has members of parliament who are equal or less than his 37 member cabinet. This is why he has failed to replace all those cabinet members who resigned with Moleleki.
How then has Mosisili survived with these numbers in a parliamentary democracy? It was largely due to the connivance of the ruling coalition and the Speaker. From 11/10/2016 when parliament was re-opened after the winter break, until two and half weeks later when it went for another recess indefinitely without a vote by Members of Parliament, the agenda was only prayer. No debates were allowed to take place for that period. Even the “points of Order” interruptions common in parliaments were ignored by the Speaker. The key issue was how to prolong the government in office while making all the efforts to prevent an effective successor government. In the meantime, Mosisili was frantically working on a programme of self-perpetuation even when the inevitable happened. He was under no illusion that his days were numbered but he wanted to prolong his influence beyond his days in office by frantically appointing his protégés and promoting others to strategic positions. These included attempts to dilute SADC decisions on Constitutional, administrative and security reforms; it also included hoodwinking other people about the government’s true intentions on the Amnesty Bill.
Investing in his future
In 2012 when Mosisili handed power to his successor, he had been Prime Minister continuously from 1998. He had thus built a solid base in both the public service and the security services. Nevertheless he felt the need to appoint both the Government Secretary, who heads the public service, and the Commander of the LDF a few weeks before the elections. Kamoli later came to serve him well in destabilising the new coalition government until it collapsed. After two and half years away from power, Mosisili seems to have been clear that there was a need to rebuild his power base. He got rid of all Principal Secretaries but two and Ambassadors but two. He also swept clean the echelons of the police to be replaced by his handpicked ones. His final sweep also went to remove Professor Mosito, an eminent jurist as President of the Court of Appeal, on tramped up charges of delayed submission of income tax returns, where the tax authority was not even a complainant.
Mosisili’s reach in twilight days has been very extensive. It was and has a focus on his future rather than the national interest. Perhaps what gave him nightmares was the ever increasing pressure from the European Union and the United States on implementation of decisions emanating from the Phumaphi Report. Key to him was the insistence that he should remove Kamoli, his key ally, from the command of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). Having conceded that he had no alternative but to do so, he dilly dallied for more than six months. His argument was always that negotiations are on-going. The dateline for AGOA annual assessment for eligibility was getting closer. The U. S. did not only sent an Assistant Secretary of State to Maseru, but also wrote an uncompromising letter to Mosisili that Lesotho faces exclusion from AGOA if there is no progress in implementing the SADC decisions on good governance and rule of law.
It is at this stage that Mosisili began to process the exit of Lt. General Kamoli as Commander of the LDF. This was done through an obscure clause in the Legal Notice ostensibly to appoint Major General Mot’somot’so as Commander. The clause removing Kamoli reads as follows:
- The Lesotho Defence Force (Appointment of Commander) Notice 2015 is repealed.
While Section 1 promotes and confers the Command to Mot’somot’so, Section 2 repeals the instruments which appointed Kamoli. This is inelegant but effectively removes Kamoli as Commander since he was only appointed in 2015 by Mosisili after he had been dismissed by the previous government. But what is clear is that Kamoli left on his own terms. These are the indicators.
First is the appointment of Mot’somot’so who was due for retirement. He has always demonstrated extreme loyalty to Kamoli. His stance was made clear in 2014 when he was appointed to Act as Commander while Kamoli was onstensibly on sabbatical. He refused to accept even a letter of appointment. Rumour has it that he did not even use the Commander’s office during that period.
Second, Kamoli continues to be heavily guarded by members of the LDF several weeks after he has been removed from his Command. More importantly, a week ago, when his sister was being buried, the whole funeral activities were handled by the LDF. Army helicopters and trucks were all over in Bobete, where he comes from. Perhaps a secret agreement exist somewhere which will explain how Kamoli left LDF and remained in charge.
The second layer of Mosisili’s strategy to perpetuate himself beyond his term of office is related to the amazingly rapid career progression of officers in the army and the police. Details are only emerging about police promotions and they include the rapid rise of one Mapoola who is now Assistant Commissioner of Police. This is the second promotion he has had after Mosisili got back in office after the 2015 elections. His amazing story was told by him to the Phumaphi Commission, where he was dismissed rather amusingly by the Commission when he related a civilian version of the army mutiny but refused or did not know anything that would be of assistance to the Commission. The military progression like the meteoric rise of Mapoola is more interesting as part of the bigger picture of Mosisili’s survival strategy. In a tabular form hereunder I show cases similar to those but also will indicate why this is important later.
|Rank 2015||Rank 2016||Rank 2017|
What is significant about these movements is that more than 90% of the upward movements here is made up of people who have been specifically pinpointed in both the Phumaphi report and also the judgement of the Court of Appeal in which Hashatsi challenged the legality of the Phumaphi Commission. Needless to say that he lost that case. Most of these people are expected to be suspended while police investigations continue about a myriad of cases from High Treason, Murder, and Bombings etc. Instead of suspension they have been promoted some against the Promotions Policy which guides these cases.
From a public policy perspective, there are also a lot of issues with these promotions. They largely did not exist in the establishment and have been done in the middle of the financial year. What it means is that posts were created for the above and the next government will be settled with unmanageable personnel costs. But even more important is the fact that the promotions have created a monster whereby there are too many brigadiers, too many colonels. It’s a case of “too many chiefs”.
For Mosisili at least two objectives have been achieved by the promotions. First, if international pressure increases and he releases the detained soldiers and those in exile return, he will have miraculously ensured that seniors are now juniors of his handpicked soldiers. It will now be easy to remove those he did not approve of through normal military procedures. Thus throughout the ranks he will have his ears and eyes to ensure that he and Kamoli continue to be in charge of the LDF.
Secondly, like in the first change of government in 2012 where Mosisili placed Kamoli to ensure that the government was unstable, he has now devised a grander scheme. No government that he does not like will be able to run the country. He will thus be remotely in charge and with no responsibility for what happens.
As if these moves are not enough, Mosisili has intensified his stranglehold on power beyond his days in office by seconding recently promoted Colonel Lekhooa to head the National Security Service (NSS), a civilian intelligence agency, from LDF. We now have a serving military officer heading NSS. How can a military man, already implicated in the crimes listed in Hashatsi’s case in the Lesotho Court of Appeal, head and provide independent intelligence advice to the government? Mosisili and Kamoli now have a stranglehold on the government for the foreseeable future. Lekhooa has only been placed at NSS only to gather intelligence to frustrate justice. He will only be there as part of the exit strategy for both Kamoli and Mosisili. He will not serve the government of the day but will play the role of a private intelligence for those who placed him there. Let us be aware of the strategies of self-perpetuation!
The seriousness of these actions far outweighs his eminent fall. He will control all the levers of power while others attempt to run an ungovernable state. Are the leaders of the forthcoming coalition aware and ready to respond to these machinations? For the sake of this country I hope they are.
Happy New Year! We parted in October 2016 due to a nasty car accident.