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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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Righting one of Mosisili’s injustices: reinstatement of Justice Mosito as President of Court of Appeal

The rule of thumb of good governance is that public appointments and dismissals be done in good faith and without malice and vendetta. Those who forget this rule often unwittingly work against their own interests. They look petty and foolish at the end. This is the case about the concerted effort to block the appointment of Professor Mosito as President of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho. It is the same crew which mounted an unprecedented campaign to finally remove him from the Court of Appeal in the dying days of the Mosisili regime. No strategy or tactic was spared including setting up things akin to a kangaroo court to impeach him. So great was the venom of this gang, that even when Mosito resigned, they were not happy with that. They, contrary to the law which indicates that resignation aborts the process, still insisted on the issue of a bizarre gazette dismissing him as President of the Court of Appeal. It was the usual small headedness as a result of an acute inferiority complex which drove them. Small minds could not stand to have a qualified jurist who was not dependent on patronage and a scramble for legal fees from a captured government.
This crew thought finally it had succeeded to get rid of Mosito in the judicial system in Lesotho, but it had miscalculated. Mosito was reinstated a week ago in a government gazette following the demise of the Mosisili regime. It was in one sense the most emphatic rebuke of the gang which included political opportunists, lawyers and some foreign judges who served in the Court of Appeal before Mosito was appointed in January 2015. But more critically, it was a rejection of the appointment of a crew of retired South African judges who were always called upon by people with vested interests in the outcome of the impeachment of Mosito. Perhaps the greatest favour of all to Basotho was the broadcast of the proceedings of the Tribunal which had been assembled to impeach Mosito, by PC FM. It brought to the fore that the Tribunal did not even approximate one which sought fairness and truth. It was truly a Kangaroo Court, which did not even disguise its ultimate objective of getting rid of Mosito. The government side did not even have to present evidence in the normal way. The Tribunal sought evidence and prevented Mosito and his lawyers from challenging such evidence.
Mosito’s reinstatement is a welcome development but we have to understand the nature of the campaign to prevent him from assuming office and also the subsequent one which resulted in his removal in spite of his resignation. How did this conspiracy begin? What was driving this crew?

Ganging up against Mosito’s appointment
The conspiracy to block Mosito to become the President of the Court of Appeal probably started soon after the vacancy in the office occurred. This was caused by the resignation of Justice Ramolibedi who was facing several cases of impeachment ahead of criminal charges which had been spelt out in his impeachment. The public however only came to know about the manoeuvres in December 2014 when five lawyers wrote a well publicised statement queering the appointment of Mosito as the President of the Court of Appeal. The five lawyers, namely Salemane Phafane, Motiea Teele, Karabo Mohau, Zwelakhe Mda (all King’s Counsel) and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika; issued a statement ahead of the appointment challenging Mosito’s appointment. Among other things, the five lawyers argued that government could not make such a crucial decision as it would only be in power on a caretaker basis following the dissolution of parliament on 5 December 2014.

If the five lawyers had only raised the propriety or not and not the legality of appointing senior personnel when the government is in a caretaker mode, their case would have been politically understandable. The lawyers also urged Advocate Mosito to decline the appointment, noting: “Accordingly, we advise our learned colleague who has been approached, to take a principled position not to accept this appointment.
“We wish to remind him that in countries such as Kenya, judges appointed in similar controversial circumstances have been forced to resign. It is a fate we do not wish to be visited upon our learned colleague.” This was the beginning of the public spat which later went on to concretise into a two year campaign to remove him from office. The threat, that if he did not decline the appointment he may be forced to resign was clear. Theirs was not an empty threat; on the contrary it was a promise to have him removed. The five lawyers went on to appeal to the government to stop the process of appointment of Mosito.

We appeal to the powers-that-be to avoid bringing the administration of justice into disrepute and undermining the independence of the judiciary. This is because judicial officers serve important roles in ensuring human rights are protected and that all citizens have recourse in the courts of law in the event such rights are violated.
Other than to refer to an earlier case where Mosito had represented or provided legal opinion to the Prime Minister, there was nothing tangible about their fear of the administration of justice being undermined. It was just a political talk which masked personal interests of some of those who challenged Mosito’s appointment. Indeed in a later statement, the five lawyers ended up conceding that theirs was not about competence but timing of the appointment. At the time of his appointment, Dr Mosito was not only an academic lawyer as Dean of the Faculty of law, but was President of the Labour Appeal Court and had been in several panels of the Court of Appeal before. He was thus eminently better qualified than any of the people who questioned his appointment.

Later after Mosito was appointed, his antagonists told a journalist that they would challenge the appointment in the court of law. They did not except to the extent that all but one of those emerged as legal representatives of the Attorney General when he attempted to have the appointment nullified.

With intimidation having failed, the next stage was two pronged.. First was the sudden resignation of five South African judges in the Court of Appeal. These were Justice Douglas Scott, Justice Craig Howie, Justice Wilfred Thring, Justice Roger Cleaver and Justice Ian Farlam. Whether that was in protest that Scott who had been acting as President of the Court of Appeal was not confirmed, or whether that was an attempt to cripple the court, is not relevant. The critical point is that the mass resignation had a demonstration effect to the populace and also the legal fraternity. The spectre of a collapsing judicial system was powerful. It was a shameful thing to do for judges who had participated and enforced the awful apartheid state laws in South Africa. Mosito’s appointment, even if they objected to, did not approximate the wrongs of the system they enforced over decades in South Africa.

The mass resignations from the Court were exacerbated by the apparent reluctance of the Judicial Services Commission to fill the vacancies. Even after the President of the Court had taken the initiative to identify suitable candidates, the Judicial Services Commission declined to make appointments. That had the unfortunate result of destabilising the court. Only in October 2015 were cases on appeal held with one session having been cancelled. Only the outcry by the broader public forced the hand of the Judicial Services Commission to act.

A fascinating development is that after Mosisto was removed from office after a long campaign, three of those judges who resigned in mass, re-emerged with Farlam as acting President. The others are Louw and Cleaver. It will be fascinating to see if their consciences will now lead to their second mass resignation now that Mosito has been reinstated. But even at the personal level, one wonders how they will feel after their previous disgraceful conduct. This is more pertinent since a certain Mamello Morrison, who was Mosisili’s Senior Private Secretary, went on radio a few weeks before the June 2017 elections, stating that government has its loyal judges in South Africa who would be on standby should the Lesotho judges make adverse judgements against the government. (Maburu a rona a melomo e mefubelu a standby).

The second path that was followed by Mosito’s protagonists was to attempt to nullify his appointment through the courts of law. The Attorney General, Makhethe, launched a constitutional case on among others, that cabinet had not blessed the appointment. He lost both in the Constitutional Court and on appeal to the Court of Appeal. The interesting matter here was that the Attorney General’s legal team was composed of four of the five lawyers who had originally cried foul when they got wind that Mosito was going to get the nod for the President of the Court of Appeal. Perhaps as a sideline, we later found out that one of the five lawyers who felt aggrieved had been touted as the President of the Court of Appeal. It could therefore have been a question of sour grapes for one of them.
The moral bankruptcy of both the five lawyers and the Attorney General was later to be revealed when they did not raise a finger when six weeks before the June 2017 elections, another South African judge, Robert Nugent, was appointed as President of the Court of Appeal by the outgoing government. This is a case which Attorney General, Makhethe facilitated. It was a case of all hands on deck to prevent the possibility of Mosito being reappointed by the successor regime. It failed. This campaign did not stop after the legal collapse and shameful mass resignation of judges. It was carried to another level to fulfil the promise by the five lawyers who objected to Mosito’s appointment to force him to resign like judges in Kenya as they said. They sought to find fault in order to disqualify him as a judge.

Mosito’s ouster and reappointment
After losing in court and also having lost out in preventing the appointment of new judges into the Court of Appeal, the anti-Mosito crew now sought to find other ways of dislodging him. The entry of Leaba Thetsane, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) became the central pillar of the new efforts to get rid of Mosito. Thetsane now sought to have Mosito charged with a delay to register and pay taxes with the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA). This was despite the fact that there was no complaint from the LRA. Indeed during the impeachment process masterminded by the Attorney General, LRA did not present any evidence against Mosito. Documents from that body were accepted by the Tribunal without anybody in that organisation presenting or authenticating them. It was a bizarre process which had only one object, to get rid of Mosito at all costs. But more importantly, the efforts were meant to oust him and taint him with a criminal record in order to ensure that he would not return to the bench.

It is remarkable that two senior judicial officers, Attorney General and the DPP colluded to remove Mosito from the bench. Was it as part of a common purpose with the five lawyers in December 2014 who had threatened to have Mosito removed? This can’t be farfetched in view of the fact that in all the cases which both the Attorney General launched to nullify Mosito’s appointment there were always those same lawyers representing his office. It is also significant that the same team represented Thetsane when he challenged his retirement late in 2014.

While Makhethe facilitated the impeachment, Thetsane pursued the prosecution which could only take place after the impeachment process had taken its course. All the above were achieved with specially recruited South African prosecutors and retired South African judges. Thus while a vicious panel was assembled to impeach Mosito no matter what, Thetsane was also assembling his South African prosecutors who would present their case to South African judges. While the former process had run its course, the latter still has not. The justice system which is run by people with personal vendettas serving a decaying regime of Mosisili had everything to fear from an eminent jurist who was not indebted to them. They haunted Mosito out of office to serve personal egos and used a sycophantic South African band of prosecutors and judges to achieve their objectives. At the end Mosito had the last laugh. They will continue to lick their wounds but one of Mosisili’s worst injustices has been righted. Mosito is back and lesothoanalysis heartily congratulates him.

Congratulations Professor Mosito for your worthy appointment. You took a lot as they haunted you out, but you did not despair but continued to prosper. You go back to serve in the courts after your deserved promotion in the University to a new Professorial Rank. Welcome!!!

MMS/08/08/2017

Dismantling Mosisili’s militia: progress and challenges

Overview
The newly formed government of Lesotho as expected faces a phenomenal task to unscramble a deliberate plan by Mosisili to rule from the grave. As indicated, in an earlier article, central to the scheme was to ensure that the government would be bogged down for up to a year trying to understand what has been done and how to undo it. Though some thought that, Mosisili’s plan was just about his relatives and close allies, it was clear to me that those were transparent decoys. The real focus of the plan was to undermine the rule of law and to ensure that those who committed crimes would continue to control the levers of power and like in 2014 attempt to destabilise the government.

This gigantic plan to deceive everybody seems to have failed. The speed and focus with which the government has begun to dismantle the militia, must have taken the conspirators by surprise. The government seems to have decided to break the back of the snake before going to smash its head. The militia which had been formed had three main components. The police was its fulcrum as I will show below; the National Security Service was its eyes; and the army was the executioner. In a situation where the fulcrum and eyes have been chopped, there is little that the remaining part of the militia can do. This is more so when the militia is aware that it is now under observation internally by the other security services and externally by the neighbours. It is a situation where the militia can only resort to assassinations but cannot stage a coup.

In order to understand the enormity of the task at hand in dismantling this militia, it is important to outline what was the nature of their operation as individual units and also how the militia effectively had become a state within a state. The point to emphasise is that Mosisili was only a symbolic head of the militia. The effective head was Kamoli even after he had ostensibly left the LDF Command. Mosisili and his allies only provided the political cover particularly in the international community where he ultimately retreated to the worn out argument of sovereign right of states in their internal affairs. This is an argument which he suddenly ditched after losing elections, when started calling on SADC to institute a forensic audit of elections in a supposedly sovereign state!
Scope and modus operandi of the militia

As already indicated above, the militia operated as a unit even though specific tasks were largely handled in the different sections. The main operational areas seem to have been the police which had been dismantled as a police service. This is why the initial focus of the government seems to have been placed there. In the scale of things, police are the chief crime busters and if they become part of the criminal syndicate, it would be impossible to bring about accountability and the rule of law. Let us through three main examples show why the Lesotho Mounted Police was no longer fit for purpose. I exclude the rampant crimes of all nature which were not dealt with since the police had been turned into a militia serving interests of those who manipulated the service. The key issues which will show the crisis of policing in Lesotho since 2015 are as follows:
a) In 2014 we had cases of bombs lobbed into places where the present Prime Minister was expected to have been and also in the residence of the then Commissioner of Police. Nobody died, but those were clear cases including attempted murder which the police diligently followed and suspects were identified. Warrant of arrest were ultimately issued, but they were not effected. The investigations, as we came to know during the proceedings of the Phumaphi Commission did not continue after the 2015 elections.

In August 2014 an attempted coup was staged by LDF and in the process Sub-Inspector Ramahloko, a member of LMPS was brutally murdered at Police Headquarters. Those who staged the attempted coup and those who murdered Ramahloko are known. Investigations on all above were stopped after the 2015 elections. Making matters worse the nephew of Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was dismissed from the police for asking about the state of the investigations of the murder of his uncle.

In January 2015 bodyguards of the Prime Minister were ambushed and injured by members of the LDF close to the Royal Palace. A security guard, Qobete, in nearby premises was shot and killed. The soldiers who ambushed those guards are known but no investigations have been undertaken by the police since then.
In June 2015, the former Commander of the LDF, Lt. General Mahao, was waylaid and killed by publicly self-confessed members of the LDF. No investigations were undertaken by the police. In evidence before the Phumaphi Commission, the LMPS was characterised by evasiveness and utter stupidity as shown by one Mapola who then was promoted twice within fifteen months for attempting to deflect criticism of the police by arguing that there is evidence of civilians who cooperated with the so-called mutiny suspects.
b) In March 2016 the police arrested one Constable Khetheng at Sebothoane in Leribe and according to evidence in the habeas corpus case in the High Court; his arrest was not recorded in the occurrence book but he was handed over to one Inspector Mofolo (promoted two times since then) who took him to a place unknown. No investigations of his disappearance were undertaken.

c) Over and above the setting up of a joint army police unit which was known to have been the one unit which kidnapped and tortured people at the dead of night, the police also ran a “police uniforms for hire type of scheme” whereby army personnel were borrowed police uniforms in order to disguise their nefarious acts. To make matters worse, police spokesman, Molefe whose rank I no longer know since he has also been promoted several times since 2015, went on radio to declare that police who are not in uniform and without identification should be accepted as such. This was an attempt to spin the fact that some of those who were kidnapping political opponents refused to identify themselves. All criminals had to do was to declare that they were policemen!
The militia extended its control to the National Security Servoce (NSS) by seconding one Col. Lekhooa substantively with Military Intelligence, and more importantly one of the suspects in at least three of the crimes listed in the Phumaphi Commission Report, as Director-General. His control of the civilian intelligence agency ensured that the military was in complete control of the intelligence operations in Lesotho. It meant that there could not be any oversight over the military. It also meant that all the intelligence, past and present was now available for planning by those who ran the militia. It is now known that the most sensitive of the intelligence gathering systems were decoded and handed over to those whose mission was not security of the state, but spying on state institutions in order to commit crimes.

Finally we have to review the role of the militia in the army. The army had, like the police, been totally dismantled and served the interests of those who were focused on committing crimes. The whole Command has been largely responsible for transforming the army into a militia which has been involved in cases of High Treason, murder and torture. The most prominent members of this gang have been handsomely rewarded with promotions and some by foreign postings. Indeed those like Sechele who was arrogantly trying to intimidate the Phumaphi Commission has been one of those who have been promoted twice in fifteen months. He is now a Brigadier, whose only operation he has been in is one on the outskirts of Mokema in June 2015.
This was the unit which was the puppet master with the police and the NSS as useful idiots. But the militia’s head could not be effective without the use of those other institutions. Killing off the militia’s oxygen was thus probably the best strategy rather than going for the kill in what is going to be a complicated operation. The issue therefore is to assess the stage of the process of dismantling of the militia.
Cutting off the branches of the militia

Strategically it is clear that the new government was well briefed and took actions early enough against the militia which is still in shock and knowing that it cannot operate the way it used to in the past. First, the militia is for the first time headless at both the political level and within the military. With both the Mosisili/Metsing axis gone and also with Kamoli out of direct command the militia is stranded. Moreover, the firm direct and indirect communication by SADC to the new Commander of LDF, that there would be consequences if anybody tried to stage a coup sank. In the words of the South African foreign minister, “ …it’s not a threat, it’s just the way it is…” coups by the militia can’t be tolerated. How then has the government undertaken the task?

First, Prime Minister Thabane held face to face meetings with the Mots’omot’so, Commander of the LDF, before and after his inauguration. It is clear that the meetings were about making the Commander to know that the insubordination of the past could not be tolerated. Thabane seems to have tamed the beast, since then the LDF has now not openly challenged the government like it used to do. Two important developments have since taken place.

Lekhooa’s secondment to the NSS from LDF has been terminated. This was the first significant action which indicated that the new government is intent on initially clipping the wings of the militia before going for the jugular. Removing Lekhooa from NSS is probably the most important action which will ensure that the oversized military role in all aspects of Lesotho’s body politic is reduced. From a security management approach this is as the doctor prescribed. Intelligence is the foundation of governance. This is only the beginning.

Third, the government decisively stopped the Court Marshall against the so-called mutiny suspects who have since 2015 been tortured and incarcerated at the Maximum Security Prison. This was the centrepiece of bargaining by the old regime against its opponents. The plan was that, those detainees would be used to bargain the amnesty of the criminal suspects in all the cases referred to above. The release of the detainees would be contingent on the criminal suspects being provided indemnity. Like kidnappers, the demand was to compare perpetrators with victims. There could not be any equivalence. The next stage is to ponder whether the Court Marshal should be dissolved or not.

The fourth significant action in dismantling the militia has been to initially sent on leave Letsoepa, the Commissioner of Police, while investigations about his role in undermining his oath of office to maintain a professional police service were being undertaken. The appointment of an Acting Police Commissioner was an important first step. Letsoepa above all members of the militia, undermined police solidarity in protecting known killers of a fellow policeman; recruiting police on the basis of political leanings; promoting suspects in crimes like the disappearance of Constable Khetheng. But to make matters worse, Letsoepa, a day after elections and on a Sunday, promoted over twenty cronies into senior positions irregularly and without a budget.

In all my days as a political observer in Lesotho, I have not seen such a brazen attempt to undermine a police institution. I have also never seen government circulars issued a day after elections and on a Sunday. Only the militia could have thought of things like that. That he has now been written to by the Government Secretary to show cause why he should not be removed as Police Commissioner is not a surprise!

Challenges ahead
The attempts so far have been well-thought out and will be the basis for action in the next few weeks when additional measures will be taken to move from the branches to the stem. In his Speech from the Throne a week ago, King Letsie III indicated that SADC decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission will be implemented in full and swiftly in order to bring about stability. This is where the key challenges lay. One of the key recommendations which the Commission made was that all those in the LDF suspected of committing crimes should be suspended while investigations are continued. In the meantime, almost all those who were listed in the Report have now been promoted twice with most skipping the ranks. Most of the suspects have moved from junior officers to being part of the Command. While it is possible to try to suspend them, it is not clear whether they will not attempt to resist. It is therefore prudent to move cautiously and solicit SADC support to implement this part of the recommendations.

Second, we have those detainees who are now in open arrest. Their Court Marshall case is still intact. Most of those have been severely tortured and may need medical and psychological counselling. It’s not enough to stop the Court Marshall case to go on. Indeed the best case scenario is to dissolve the Court Marshall. The Prime Minister has the power under the law to do so. But the question which has to be considered is their re-integration into the force where they were tortured by their juniors who now suddenly have become senior to some of them. How safe are they before the suspects are suspended? This has to be thought very carefully.

Thirdly, we still have to consider the exiled soldiers whose salaries and other benefits were stopped in 2015. Like their colleagues who were at Maximum Security, they have suffered a lot. They also cannot just walk in into the barracks after these developments. Their security must be paramount in any decision taken before the suspects are removed. What the government should be able to do is to ensure that their livelihoods are improved before they come home in safety. This is reportedly what the Minister of Communication; Joang Molapo is reported to have said to the local media. I totally agree with that approach. There is to need to ensure that they return in safety rather than to hand them over to the remnants of the militia who would be desperate by now and could harm them.

The militia is now being dismantled. We have however to be aware that in desperation it could hit anywhere like an unguided missile. There is no need for premature celebration. The road ahead is still tough but most of it should be over before the end of August 2017.

MMS/24/07/2017

Reflections on the struggle against impunity: June 2017 elections and beyond

Overview
The recent defeat of the militia through an electoral process has been long and bitter. Now that the new government has assumed office, it is appropriate to reflect on how the changes came about. The changes, I argue, happened in spite of the key institutions of state and beyond which in other countries tend to play a critical role. Ours are moribund and not fit for purpose.
From the beginning of 2014, Lesotho was under a full-fledged army rebellion which initially was publicly spearheaded by one junior officer by the name of Hashatsi who dared the government to remove then Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). On the face of it, this was a rebellion led by Hashatsi, but in reality it was a rebellion by Lt. General Kamoli and most of his Command who were initially in the background. When carefully looking at the situation however, important signals came to the fore which indicated that Hashatsi was just the face of the rebellion. Military ethos would never have allowed a junior officer to be in rebellion without consequences. The rebellion was shown for what it was when the following signals came to the fore. The suspension of Brigadier Mahao, who had dared reprimand Hashatsi, for challenging the prerogative of the government of the day on matters of who is placed in Command.
Shortly after that, the rebellious troops attempted to assassinate both the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police by placing bombs in a place where they thought the former would be and at the residence of the Commissioner of Police. They both survived. A chain of events took place culminating in the attempted coup of August 2014. The rebellion was not quelled, instead a snap general election was held in February 2015 with the hope that it would provide the solution to the broader political and security challenge. That was delusional as events were to prove.
After the 2015 snap elections, the rebellious troops and their political allies were triumphant. The Democratic Congress (DC), led by Pakalitha Mosisili cobbled a seven party coalition to form a government. This government however, as developments were to show, was just a front for the military which ruled. It is the same rebellious troops which now called the shots. They managed to have a puppet regime which condoned all their crimes and also rewarded them handsomely with promotions and other goodies. Since this junta had no self control and the government was just a means of providing them with cover, it went berserk; killing, torturing and threatening both civilians and soldiers with impunity. International pressure and internal dynamics brought about the collapse of the regime, leading to yet another election in 2017, the third in five years.
The 2017 elections were clearly the most pivotal in modern Lesotho politics. It was a question of either the maintenance of the military backed regime or the election of a government which would be able to confront the rebellious troops which had now consolidated their control of all security structures. It was an election like no other. From the beginning there were fears of violence and rejection of the results by the losers. In the end, the losers were disarmed by international pressure from being spoilers, but the militia which had emerged, remains. This is where the challenges of the new government begin. How it handles that will determine how long it stays in office.

Post-2015 politics in Lesotho
The triumph of the military rebellion after the 2015 elections began to be felt almost immediately after the formation of the new government. The first step was to remove all the senior personnel who had been appointed by the outgoing government. This was more pronounced in the security sector where both the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and the Commissioner of Police were relieved of their Command. Simultaneously, a major crackdown was taking place in both the LDF and the police. Those in the army who were suspected of having been loyal to the old order were being haunted out. Within weeks after the elections, more than sixty soldiers were abducted by hooded men and taken to the torture chambers at Setibing Military base. The level of depravity of torturers was only to be revealed later in several cases of habeas corpus in the Lesotho High Court.
Reporting on its mission to Lesotho, the Southern African Litigation Centre graphically detailed the situation of the detained soldiers. Once abducted, the “soldiers were typically taken to Sedibeng, in an area that is particularly cold and where it often snows in the mountains”.
Here the detainees were forced to walk on ice, sprayed with cold water or thrown into a frozen and dirty stream. Wet and in the cold, they are then tied to a pole and hooded overnight whilst being insulted and asked for information. While tied, some detainees are beaten and gun shots are fired around them.
Two cases of severe torture were reported in Lesotho Times dated 18 June 2015, when two soldiers were brought to the High Court. Bleeding as he was sitting in the dock, Col. Posa Stemmere narrated his ordeal to the judge that he had been tortured by his captors since his arrest and was in pain.
I feel pain all over the body; from head to toe. My feet and hands are swollen, while my hands are also numb from the assault while in detention. Sometimes urine comes out of my body unexpectedly, and my feet are so weak I cannot stand for long.
Col. Stemmere then told the court that he has bruises all over the body from beatings by his captors, and now had “endless headaches” due to the torture.
He also told the judge that he had never seen a doctor since his arrest, and requested that he be allowed medical examination and treatment. A similar story was narrated by Corporal Motlatsi Letsilane , who also told the judge that he felt cold all over the body. “My feet are swollen and numb” said Corporal Letsilane, “I also have endless pain on the right side of my ribs and a running stomach”, he concluded.
The problem, he added, started after his arrest and detention by LDF members on 25 May 2015. “I am not well. My feet are swollen and numb. I also have endless pain on the right side of my ribs and a running stomach,” he said.
As part of the strategy to clampdown and eliminate all potential sources of resistance, the new military backed regime waylaid Lt. General Mahao who had just been stripped of his Command of the LDF in favour of Lt. General Kamoli, at Mokema. He was murdered and taken to Makoanyane Military Hospital where his body and clothes were washed, partly to hide evidence on details of his killing. Announcing Mahao’s death, Minister of Defence, T’seliso Mokhosi claimed that the former was killed while resisting arrest. This as was demonstrated by Major Mangena of the South African Police, in evidence to the Phumaphi Commission was most implausible.
It is under these circumstances that SADC dispatched a Fact-Finding Mission to Lesotho, headed by South Africa’s Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs. Mapisa-Nqakula decisively reported about the deteriorating security situation in Lesotho, contradicting the Lesotho government’s version that all is well in the country. Amongst the critical issues raised by the Ministerial Fact Finding Mission Report (SADC/DTS/3/2O15/3) were the following observations:
(i) the security situation in the country is tense as evidenced by the flight of the opposition leaders, the alleged ‘mutiny plot’ and subsequent investigations and the death of Brigadier Mahao;
(ii) concern about the impending court martial and its consequences on the political and security situation in the country;
(v) general concern about the role of the army;
(ix) the King’s serious concern on the deteriorating security situation in the country, especially the role of the army.
At the centre of Mapisa-Nqakula’s mission report were issues about the overall behaviour of the military and its reach into the political process. The army, as can be observed, was seen as the cancer in the body politic of Lesotho.
The setting up of the Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi from Botswana was a direct response to the Ministerial Fact-Finding Mission. It is the report of this Commission which has provided the basis for the resistance against the military backed regime in Lesotho. The central issues to understand about Lesotho politics after 2014 therefore have been laid bare. It is about the army rebellion which was not suppressed and ultimately took over the state with politicians providing political cover. The resistance to the junta; the fall of the military regime; and resultant election battle are part of a continuum of the struggle against authoritarian rule in Lesotho.
The resistance against militia
Lesotho’s peculiarities are many, but its most frustrating ones are the following:
a) Weakness of our judicial system. Lesotho’s constitution places the judiciary at the centre of our human rights protection. In addition, Lesotho is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against torture. Unlike in any other country with democratic constitutions, the Lesotho courts are docile. I dare say that they are either captured or unable/unwilling to stand for victims of human rights. The moment, a case against the militia or its associated institutions goes to court, you can always predict that the militia will win or just get a slap in the face. There are so many cases which were launched by individual soldiers who were detained at the maximum security prison for their freedom. In all those cases, the perpetrators were allowed to continue with their crimes. I am not only talking about issues of substantive law, but also those processes and the reputation of the courts. Three examples will be sufficient:
 In several habeas corpus applications the report of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre points out that soldiers indicated that many had been “snatched” or “kidnapped” by heavily-armed, masked men dressed in black “with no clear procedure of arrest, no arrest warrants, and no clarity of charges under which the arrests were effected. But more importantly, the Centre pointed out that “…. masked militia armed with AK47s were reported as having ‘forced themselves’ into the judge’s chambers to accompany the detainees and sustaining a heavy presence in court in a manner intended to intimidate the judiciary”
 As part of the habeas corpus applications, as already pointed out earlier, Colonel Stemmere, sitting in the dock bleeding and in severe pain, was handed over to his torturers with a lame order that he should not be tortured. But more importantly, in court, the only thing the court thought appropriate, was that he should be given some tissues to wipe off his blood. This is a case where we should just give up on the court system in Lesotho until it is reformed.
 Several cases of policemen who have been dismissed by the militia and court orders for their reinstatement have been ignored. Notable cases are those of policewoman Makotoko who was based in Leribe and testified that Policeman Khetheng who has disappeared was arrested by her and handed over to Inspector Mofolo. She went further to testify that she was instructed to lie in the Attorney–General’s offices. She refused and was later dismissed for some other matter. She has not been re-instated. Another policeman Motebang Ramahloko whom the court has ordered his re-instatement, has not. He was dismissed after inquiring about the case of his murdered uncle in the 2014 attempted coup. There is usually no point to try to take offenders for contempt cases. The courts in Lesotho tend to negotiate with those who violate their orders if they are powerful. They don’t enforce their orders.

b) Weakness of the law society. Another body which constitutionally has power to protect the law is the Law Society. Since the turmoil began, the Law Society has gone into hibernation. We saw murder being committed and the institutions which are supposed to protect the rule of law not enforcing the law; we saw soldiers being tortured and vivid images of them in court bleeding; we also saw hooded men with AK 47 rifles in court intimidating lawyers and families of the detained soldiers; we have also witnessed the blatant intimidation of lawyers representing the detainees, some of whom ended up in exile. The Law Society has been conspicuous by its absence in those issues about protection of human rights, its members and indeed the protection of the constitution as part of its mandate. It is clearly an organisation which has no value to the nation as a whole.

c) Inadequate advocacy institutions. Lesotho has not been blessed with credible media and advocacy institutions. When the crisis came to the fore in 2015 it was always difficult to get the news, analysis and advocacy. Perhaps the exception was the Civil Society institutions which began to champion the cases of the detainees and other people who were harassed by the militia. In essence institutionally, the battle against the militia was only consistently fought by the civil society organisations which assisted the spouses of the detainees.

What the above indicates is that the battle for freedom was largely an individual one rather than institutions. You had individual lawyers, family member and their associates and international organisations which played a critical role leading to the collapse of the Mosisili regime. Of particular importance, were the families of the detained, exiled soldiers; it was also the families of those in the army and police who had been murdered by the militia. The #BreaktheSilence campaign where the spouses, children and allies of those families rallied in Maseru to raise the spirits which were beginning to lag was particularly important in the resistance.

The 2017 elections and beyond
The passing of the vote of no confidence on Mosisili and the subsequent calling of the June 2017 elections signalled the beginning of the end of the militia which had terrorised Basotho over three and half years. Even before the elections were held, it was obvious that Mosisili would lose those elections since he had squandered the goodwill he had by aligning himself with the rogue elements in the LDF. A few months ago, in one issue of lesothoanalysis, I had predicted that Mosisili would lose those elections and would probably not even emerge with the figures allowing him to be the Leader of the Opposition. There I missed it by one seat. He got 30 seats which, were it not because of defections in his party, he would qualify to head the opposition. It’s good sometimes to be wrong so that your adversaries can have something to talk about.
If Mosisili thought he would win the 2017 elections, it would only be if he believed fairytales which some of his advisors told him. The lesson is that people who will not tell you the truth in order to enhance your ego, are not useful. If they can’t tell you what is wrong, they are of no use to you!
The issue however is that this elections which were like no other, were saved by international pressure. The Head of the SADC Observer Mission was very strong, warning that people who refuse to accept the outcome would not be tolerated. After all the Missions gave the elections an all clear, those who still harboured to reject the outcome of the elections knew that they had to walk a straight and narrow path. This is why the opposition to the new government was limited to pleading with SADC to institute a forensic audit of an election it had already declared credible.
The second key issue which has saved the country from any turmoil has been a robust statement from the South African Minister of Foreign and International Affairs, that the coup in Lesotho would not be allowed. This was the final nail on the coffin of coup makers. They could not sustain the coup.
Beyond elections, therefore, the key issues will be those of dismantling the militia and implementing the decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission. The robust role of the international community will also be important here in ensuring that the resistance of the militia is broken. I want to be able to see the militia in reformed courts answering for the crimes they committed over the years.

MMS/07/07/2016

A friendly advice to Thabane on learning from the past and doing things differently

Overview
After a tumultuous two years rule by Mosisili, the voters confirmed what parliament had decided earlier by passing a vote of no confidence on him and his government. The leading party in the previous coalition government headed by Mosisili was thumped by Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) which increased its seats by two while Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) lost seventeen seats. Compared to 2015 elections, the big loser is clearly the DC. The table below illustrates the point above.
Party year Number of seats Percentage Seat change
ABC 2015 46 37.8 N/A
ABC 2017 48 40.52 +2
DC 2015 47 38.4 N/A
DC 2017 30 25.82 -17
It must also be remembered that there were three constituencies which were declared as failed elections as a result of the death of three of the contestants. ABC is expected to win all three thus bringing its number of seats in parliament to 51.
With elections behind us, and Prime Minister Thabane having unveiled his coalition partners and a new cabinet, real work begins now. It is a herculean task in view of the mess that has to be sorted out. It is for this reason that lesothoanalysis this week heartily congratulates the winners and proffers a friendly advice to the new Prime Minister.
I know that the new Prime Minister brings into the job, administrative, managerial and political experience spanning several decades. He also brings with him a team of experienced political figures as his coalition partners. More importantly, Thabane is a much older man than most in his cabinet. In Lesotho we still have this reverence for age and as such one could say how dare you proffer to advise him on how he should tackle this task when you are ten years younger than him? Times have changed. Age alone is no longer the sole criterion for wisdom. I have been humbled by some of the advice I have received from people from a different generation. Importantly I dare say that I bring over forty years of administrative and academic experience to know where the traps are and how to avoid them. Indeed, if Mosisili had bothered to read and understand the issues I brought up in lesothoanalysis over the past year, he would probably still be Prime Minister of Lesotho. Instead, he listened to charlatans whose only interest was how they could flatter him into believing their fantasies rather than the reality which was starring them in the face. It would be a tragedy if the hopes of the people of Lesotho were to be dashed because our new Prime Minister did not listen to advice like his predecessor did.
There are simply too many challenges which will face Thabane’s new coalition. But the trick is to identify key pillars of those challenges and then go for others later, important though they may be. It is not because some challenges are less important that I leave them aside, but the ones I wish to advise the new government on have a potential to either intensify instability in the country or bring down the government. Amongst these are the issues about security; image of the country; and the mundane issues about administration. I know the latter is less exciting but it has the capacity to break the government if not handled well. But before that let’s remind ourselves of the past.
The pitfalls of the 2012 coalition
When the coalition government took over in 2012, hardly did people realise that it had through amongst others agreed to implement a“semi-feudal” arrangement where coalition partners shared government ministries as opposed to merely sharing ministerial positions. It was a situation where each of the coalition partners created as an exclusive enclave in government departments. Thus from the Principal Secretary to the lowest public servant, the public servants there owed allegiance to the party allocated that Ministry. Rather than have a cohesive government structure, in practice the Prime Minister could not intervene except through the party concerned. It was a chaotic system which was bound to collapse.
As a result of that “semi-feudal” arrangement, the question of appointments and everything in that Ministry ultimately was a party responsibility rather than a government one. This extended to Ambassadorial positions and the District Administrators. Need I mention that a divided public service leads to easy routes for corruption and maladministration? But more importantly, this semi-feudal” arrangement lead to a situation where two Principal Secretaries were placed in the Ministry of Communications, with one appointed by the Prime Minister in terms of the law, and another forced his way through the party which controlled the Ministry. One post was occupied by two Principal Secretaries leading to accountability confusion.
This is one of the first lessons from the past which need not be repeated. A Minister, even in a coalition government answers to the Prime Minister and not to the coalition party whose Minister controls that Ministry. Public servants should not be placed in Ministries on the basis of party affiliation. They shouldn’t even be known to belong to a political party, as long as they are public servants. I will deal with this further on the reforms.
Lesotho’s international image
Small states like Lesotho have to work harder than others to create international linkages. Their most important asset and security rests in the creation of international linkages and support since by themselves they are vulnerable. During the 1980s for example, at the height of South African destabilisation in Southern Africa, Lesotho was able to pursue an independent foreign policy only because it had built an international support system in Southern Africa and beyond. This is why the apartheid regime’s pressure was withstood for a long time.
Since 2015 when Mosisili took over as Prime Minister he squandered all the international support Lesotho had. Innumerable SADC Summits were convened to discuss the Lesotho issue. The African Union, the European Union, and the United States among others have said it publicly and in writing on numerous occasions that Lesotho has to get back to the community of states which are accountable and respect the rule of law. These were ignored. Mosisili gave all the above the middle finger. Perhaps Mosisili will be remembered for his parting shot to SADC through its Chairperson King Mswati of Swaziland where he decried the organisation’s interference in the internal affairs of the country. Knowing full well that he was going to lose the elections, he went so far as to threaten withdrawing Lesotho from SADC which he has lost its way.
This is where Thabane and his government have to begin. Restoring the country’s image internationally is a top priority. It is also a matter of survival for the new government. The traps ahead, which took almost two years to put in place, need bold leadership and humility to the peers in the region and partners beyond. Lesotho needs international support to overcome its immediate and long term challenges.
The security dilemma
Prime Minister Thabane, more than anybody, understands that the crisis that Lesotho faces in the security arena. He has been a victim of army rebellion which started when he was Prime Minister in 2014. A junior officer by the name of Hashatsi, boldly and publicly announcing that you would not be allowed to remove Kamoli as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF); army personnel planting bombs in the place they expected him to be at; Kamoli hosting a public conference to announce that he could not be removed in office and that Prime Minister was ill advised when he attempted to dissolve the Court Marshall which had been instituted against a Senior Officer, then Brigadier Mahao, for attempting to caution Hashatsi to keep out of those issues about who can or not be removed as Commander; an attempted coup on 30/08/2014, leading to his flight into South Africa; threats to kill him in 2015 leading to his second flight to South Africa only returning weeks before parliament was dissolved.
Other than the removal of Kamoli after he was reinstated, the Command and structure of the forces has become more complicated. Hashatsi and all that lot which has been pin-pointed to have been part of the rebellion and other serious crimes have been elevated to be part of the Command of the LDF after their multiple promotions at times skipping the ranks. To complicate it even further, most of those who were in the Command of LDF are presently in exile or are still facing mutiny charges. Moreover, Lekhooa, another suspect in the crimes committed in the past two years has been seconded from LDF to head the National Security Service (NSS). This does not end there; the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has now been effectively dismantled. With some of its leadership suspected of involvement in the High Treason case in 2014 and other serious crimes including making other policemen like Khetheng disappear after an arrest, the security environment could not be worse.
Knowledgeable and/or good intentioned, this web woven by Mosisili, is simply too intricate to be dismantled without serious reaction. One of the key decisions of SADC on Lesotho for instance is that those in the military who have been implicated in crimes be suspended until their cases have been investigated by an enhanced and resourced police force. This cannot be implemented as long as all those in command are suspects. This is why international support is so crucial in unravelling this web.
In order to quash the army rebellion once and for all an urgent action plan to seek SADC support to implement the security related decisions immediately has to be developed. The plan should aim at ensuring that ahead of the reforms the following should have been achieved:
a) Dissolve the Court Marshall and have all those in open arrest be released from their two year ordeal;
b) Suspend all the suspects in LDF and LMPS identified to have criminal cases to answer;
c) Have all exiled soldiers indemnified and restored to their positions;
d) Dissolve the joint army and police unit immediately.
It is important to understand that the above suggested actions are only the basis for the total overhaul of the security establishment as part of the reform process. No reforms would be possible before the above are in place.
Mundane issues of administration
Prime Minister Thabane must know that he is surrounded. Mosisili made sure that he would rule from the grave by placing his relatives and associates in all the key positions in the government. Even a week before the elections, he continued to deploy people in foreign missions. That means that he will be talking issues through them to the international community. There are ways of course in the modern era to short-circuit those, but there will always be bottlenecks until the obstacles have been removed. In dealing with the obstacles, firmness, fairness and dexterity will be necessary. This is why questions of administration must not be neglected.
As Lesotho moved to elections, all political parties signed a pledge to implement reforms. Key amongst those reforms is the public sector reforms. We have a public sector now which was not characterised by appointments based on merit. It was all patronage. This ensures that the system as a whole lacks credibility. The backbone of any government is a professional public service which continues even after the change of government. Indeed, even when you have a week Minister, as long as the professionals in that Ministry are strong, it will not be obvious. This is why it is important to ensure that the reform process begins. But the reform process should not wait for the formal process itself. Prime Minister Thabane can ensure that there is credibility in the system if he shows by the appointments of senior officials that he is committed to reforms.
The quality of the people who will be appointed will be a good indicator. Let him forget about political party stalwarts and opportunists who will bring nothing into the system. If he wants to be credible, he must be able to say, this second round as Prime Minister, he will focus on merit and not whether people have been close to him. He has a golden opportunity to appoint people who are better skilled than those in Mosisili’s government.
Perhaps I have to say that the rule of thumb of judging whether the new administration has prospects of surviving long enough is to see whether it is able to differentiate government administration from both the political party and the family. The political party anchors the government, the family provides social support, but they should never be seen to be fulcrum on which the state revolves. This is more so when you have a coalition government. The advice to the new government is that government business is not a political party or family affair. It is sacrosanct and must not be compromised by any outside interests. Failure to do that will doom this government to failure.
Lesotho is also plagued by corruption and this government must dedicate itself to ridding the country of that scourge. The starting point is to recognise that Ministers in our system of government are not Chief Accounting Officers. They must at all times avoid invading the territory of the Principal Secretaries. Ministers must not try to be Principal Secretaries and vice versa. Once there is no clarity there, the struggler about tenders will begin and inevitably there will be the beginnings of the fall of this government. Had the Bidvest scandal not emerged there is a good chance that Mosisili’s government would still be limping on. Ministers have no role in the award of tenders and that should be emphasised from the beginning. Chief Accounting Officers must be made aware from the beginning that they will be held accountable when things go wrong. That is administration.
Conclusion and going forward
Sustaining a new regime requires strength, decisiveness and dexterity in dealing with issues. The need to be decisive is required now that Thabane has won decisively against Mosisili. Delaying to take action now will dilute the legitimacy that he now has. If Thabane had been decisive in January 2014 when the roots of the rebellion began to show, we probably would not have had an attempted coup of August 2014. The rebellion was left alone to chart its direction without serious attempts to quell it. The utterances of Hashatsi and Kamoli later indicated clearly that they no longer regarded themselves to be under civilian control. This was confirmed later in Sechele’s testimony to the Phumaphi Commission that the military was a law onto itself.
I’m aware that the circumstances of 2014 were different. Thabane had to also deal with a third columnist at every stage who sought to undermine him. Thabane now has the power and authority working with his partners to act decisively to ensure that the key issues about security are sorted out. I would like to conclude with the words of Machiavelli in his The Prince where he underlines that strength, which electoral victory has given you, is not sufficient to sustain your rule; you also need to be cunning.
A prince must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this. Therefore, a prudent ruler ought not to keep faith when by so doing it would be against his interest, and when the reasons which made him bind himself no longer exist. If men were all good, this precept would not be a good one; but as they are bad, and would not observe their faith with you, so you are not bound to keep faith with them.”
Mosisili imitated the lion, using the military to suppress all those opposed to him, but never recognised the traps. The new Prime Minister must be strong and wise!
As we go forward we must ensure that over and above these, we recognised critical issues like youth unemployment which is now beyond an economic challenge but a security challenge as some of the things which the new government has to defeat if it is to survive. That is a time bomb which could explode at anytime.
As we go ahead with other programmes we must remember that we have to salvage international assistance which is dependent on accountability and rule of law.
Let ones again congratulate the new government and hope it listens.

MMS/25/06/2017

Agitating for a coup? Metsing’s desperate plea for protection of the militia and formation of a government of national unity

Overview
As opposed to a rebellion a coup is never a spontaneous development. It takes time and plotting to put the pieces together. The important thing to note however is that all coups are a result of agitation often outside the barracks. The calculations whether the environment exists for a coup; and, the probability of success of staging such a coup are then made by those who have weapons of war. It is under these circumstances that recent statements of the outgoing Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, on the military and fraud in the June 2017 elections in Lesotho, have to be understood. They are tantamount to incitement to stage either a rebellion or a coup.
For Lesotho, the spectre of coups has been with us for a long time. The only successful coups in Lesotho have however been staged before our modern constitution that came into effect in 1993. Since then we have been faced with numerous military rebellions and unsuccessful coups. The last unsuccessful coup in Lesotho was staged in August 2014. Its repercussions however continue to reverberate up to the present since it was never suppressed. On the contrary it was embraced as a legitimate action by the government which took office in 2015. Metsing was the Deputy Prime Minister in that regime which was essentially a mask for military rule. The civilian authorities were then mere cover for the real wielders of power. It is therefore not surprising to hear Metsing portraying himself and those around him as the great protectors of the military against the imminent coming to power of Tom Thabane as new Prime Minister.
It is important to elucidate and analyse three things which Metsing desires. First, he wants to prevent Thabane to take over power in order to protect the soldiers, who in his words “..put their necks on the block that we ended up taking power..” Second, Metsing alleges that there has been massive voter fraud and requests SADC to institute a forensic audit of the voters roll. Thirdly Metsing and his cohorts demand that a Government of National Unity (GNU) be formed. Strange as it sounds, it is Metsing who ridiculed the idea of a GNU in 2015 after the elections. Where do these statements lead us in the post- elections period in Lesotho?
Metsing on the “army” issue
In places where you have the army as a state institution rather than a privatised army, citizens of all political stripes should have the confidence that such a body serves the broader national interests rather than partisan ones. It would therefore be unheard of for politicians to portray themselves as the protectors of such a military establishment. In Lesotho, we have had the experience of some politicians who tend to wrap themselves up with the army. When they fail to get support to either stay in power or to get to power, they suddenly become the great protectors of the army against their opponents. Metsing has a reputation for doing just that. From 2014 when he had his difficulties with the law about corruption, he suddenly was surrounded by over a dozen heavily armed soldiers wherever he was. This continued until he boldly declared on “national television” that Kamoli who had been dismissed as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) would remain in his position regardless. He incited continued rebellion within the military.
After the Mosisili led coalition took over in 2015, Metsing was primarily the person who frustrated the implementation of the SADC decisions after the adoption of the Phumaphi Commission Report. He talked reform in order to stop reform. His cohorts in the military were protected from the courts for cases which ranged from High Treason to murder spelled out in the Phumaphi Commission Report. It was a case of one turn deserves another since the military had protected him from answering for his difficulties in court. It is understandable now that he would like those to continue being shielded from the courts.
Talking to his supporters shortly after losing the elections, Metsing began to openly argue that all means must be found to stop Thabane from taking over power from his coalition. That was a futile attempt since Metsing and his allies could never muster the numbers to stop Thabane from ascending to power. He argued that the army needed to be protected for their role in bringing about the out-going coalition government.
Let me tell you 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.
There are some people whose future should be protected by us, regardless of our individual aspirations. This is our obligation and I am surprised that some LCD members don’t want us to approach Mochoboroane while on the other hand some DC followers do not want Moleleki to be approached.
For Metsing, the issues are clear, it is either Thabane is stopped from gaining power after he won the elections, or the army, which can now be clear that he has turned it into a militia will face danger. It is not that Metsing’s fears are baseless. All the political parties undertook to implement the SADC decisions which include the suspension of those of his allies who have committed serious crimes pending further investigations. The point is that his statements are tantamount to incitement to the militia to stage a coup. It is unheard of that an outgoing Deputy Prime Minister can incite the army against the incoming government. This is more so now as a result of the rapid promotions of those implicated in serious crimes into the Command positions within the military. They could be expected to use their positions to undertake doomed from the beginning actions against the incoming government.
The question of paying tribute to the military for facilitating the coming to office of the outgoing coalition government is not new. Mosisili pronounced on that shortly after he had taken office. What is new is that Metsing is now talking about the protection of those who put their necks on the block to ensure that the outgoing government took power. It is a clear indication that those of his cohorts in the military which has become a militia should resist the new government.
On rigging the elections
Almost a week after the elections which the Mosisili coalition spectacularly lost, Metsing, supported motley of politicians held a press conference on Friday 9th June 2017 to declare that there was tangible evidence of fraud in the elections. “…there is damning and tangible evidence that there were fraudulent activities and tampering of the voters’ roll..”
Some people voted twice and even thrice because their names appeared more than once in different lists. All these fraudulent activities were in contravention of the electoral law.
In our view, elections are a pillar of democracy. And in a situation where there is fraud in the electoral lists, there is simply no way the results would reflect the will of the people or be democratic.
Not only did Metsing make his outlandish statement about the elections which were monitored by well over 700 observers from Lesotho and all over the world, but his demands for a forensic audit must be fulfilled before the end of June 2017. We have to say that all the observers from SADC, African Union, SADC Parliamentary Forum and the Commonwealth to mention only a few, gave the elections a clean bill of health. The only reservations by all the above was the undefined role of the army which turned up heavily armed in some polling stations without the knowledge and concurrence of the Independent Electoral Commission which complained that they could scare off voters.
The question of fraud in Lesotho elections is a red herring. The level of transparency of the voting process is way beyond what is found in most electoral processes. Indeed, all political parties participate from the beginning of the process until they all sign the outcome as a sign of concurrence with the process and the outcome. Those who are unhappy about the process and the outcome don’t sign the form announcing the results. Moreover, they have ample opportunity to file a complaint at the voting station. Beyond that they can always petition the High Court about their grievance. Metsing and the rest of the losing crew have not filed any complaint or file a petition with the High Court. All what they are doing is to stir up the pot in order to prepare for a coup.
The challenge for Metsing is that he lost the elections badly. In spite of being borrowed votes in twenty five constituencies by a bigger political party, the Democratic Alliance (DC), Metsing’s party only managed to win only one constituency. Through the borrowed votes, he now has eleven seats from the proportional allocation, in the National Assembly of 120 seats. His pronouncement about fraud is merely a way of trying to deflect attention from his ever diminishing support base. He now wants to cling to power through unorthodox means.
On the formation of the GNU
Shortly after the elections of 2015, the former Prime Minister of Kenya Odinga Odinga, heading the AU Observer Mission in Lesotho, proposed that the inconclusive nature of the elections in Lesotho at the time called for a formation of the GNU. For him the issue was one of ensuring that the two biggest parties shared power in order to stabilise the country. Metsing was the first person to dismiss that, since he would have been relegated to a minor partner. He also rejected that when the matter was raised a few weeks before the vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister was brought up. He knew at the time that his position as Deputy Prime Minister would elude him. But now that he has lost the elections and is fearful that his past will catch up with him when he is not in government, he vigorously advocates the GNU. For Metsing, this is for him as an individual and not the issue of stability of the country as he claims.
There is nothing wrong with the GNU as such, but in our region, it has been used as a weapon for those who have lost elections to be in power. We saw that in Kenya and also in Zimbabwe. The strategy to inflict as much violence on the populace as possible so that people will concede that it is better to allow the loser to rule than to allow people to be brutalised is an abhorrent thing to tolerate. There would be no reason to have elections if losers can force their way through violence to be in power.
The critical question for Metsing and that motley of politicians with him is that losers cannot dictate terms. The question of GNU is one that can be pioneered by the winners who want to be inclusive. What Metsing and others should hope for is that the winners are magnanimous after their resounding victory. For Metsing and his allies, theirs is to lie low and begin to prepare for the elections five years down the line rather than stir the pot or make unrealistic demands to the victors.
Conclusion
Lesotho has gone through elections which reflect the will of the people. They were not fair, but the opposition stood its ground to show that it was not a fluke to pass a vote of no confidence in parliament against Mosisili. They represented the majority of the electorate. Mosisili to his credit has steered clear of public statements which would indicate that he has not accepted his defeat. Metsing on the other hand wants to fight on and hopefully end up annulling the unfavourable vote he got.
The army as opposed to the militia has nothing to fear from the new government. But the militia should know that the rule of law and accountability are the only future for Lesotho. Those who have committed crimes should know that the world expects them to answer for themselves in the court of law. That is not vindictiveness, but the rule of law.
The problem with this Jammeh like attitudeby Metsing of accepting defeat and then trying to resist to leave office is that it is not sustainable. If Metsing and his allies have not noticed, they are being intensely monitored and cannot sustain a coup. The world has changed and they’d better realise that the days of coups has long past.
There will be calm in the Kingdom despite the rubble rousing by Metsing and his co-conspirators!
We heartily congratulate the winners of the Lesotho elections.

MMS/11/06/2017

2017 elections in Lesotho: critical issues of an election like no other

 

Overview

 

Saturday 03/06/2017 marks the most pivotal day in recent Lesotho political history. It is a day almost similar to the Freedom Day in South Africa, when the oppressive apartheid years were swept away through a popular vote amidst the tension. In Lesotho, the elections have the symbolism of a freedom run. It will mark a day when the people decide to wrest their sovereignty from the militia which has terrorised them for almost five years. The June 2017 election in Lesotho is not about sorting out differing economic and/or social policies; it is largely an election to sweep away the militia and renew Lesotho’s damaged international image.

 

 This is why there has been a dearth of critical contestations about the economy, education and other fields. In this election there have not been any big debates about political and economic policies. The only questions which these elections will resolve revolve around security and accountability. Ultimately the implementation of SADC decisions following the report of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry is what will unlock the country’s prospects to formulate and implement other policies. Security is the foundation of human survival. Where people are not safe, they cannot adequately decide whether to invest in any field since they are insecure. This is why security issues predominates the debate about the future of Lesotho in this election.

 

Lest we forget the main issues which could have been clouded by the noise from political rallies of the past week, let us remind all about what these elections are about. What has propelled us to hold these elections in 2017?

 

Overriding security challenges

 

Shortly after the 2015 elections, Mosisili became Prime Minister again and immediately re-instated Kamoli as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). Almost immediately a crackdown in the LDF was launched against all those soldiers who were perceived to have celebrated when Kamoli was removed from office by the then Prime Minister Thabane. Under an operation which was said to be a suppression of a mutiny, more than sixty soldiers were detained, tortured severely and later some of them were charged of mutiny. They remained in the Maximum Security Prison for almost two years and their cases have not yet begun in the Court Marshal. Pressure from the United States finally paid off as all of them were released from the Maximum Security Prison into what is called open arrest.

 

  The second batch of about twenty three soldiers fled the country and continues to live in South Africa. Their salaries were stopped and their families were booted from the barracks. They continue to live in South Africa with no means of livelihood. Their status in South Africa is ambiguous since they are not classified as refugees. It is a totally miserable existence.

 

But more serious was the cold blooded murder of the former Commander of the LDF Lt. General Mahao by a special team which had been set up to suppress the mutiny. Not satisfied with killing him and blocking investigations on his murder, LDF has withheld his personal belongings and refused to pay his benefits to his family. It is a case of vindictiveness and sadistic behaviour incomparable!

 

At the same time all the leaders of the opposition parties which had been represented in Parliament fled to exile for fear of their life, only to return two years later. Other than the fact that Kamoli has officially left the LDF, nothing had changed when they returned to Lesotho in March 2017. Thee ironic thing is that, Cyril Ramaphosa, the SADC Facilitator who had been charged with facilitating their return did not do anything tangible for their return. The only thing he did was to fly in on the day of their return ostensible to welcome them back in Lesotho.

 

It is as a result of these developments that SADC formed and later accepted the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Phumaphi from Botswana. Despite several Communiqués and letters to the Lesotho government, the decisions have not been implemented except to release Kamoli from the Command of the LDF; and to talk reform in order block reform. Talking reform was a stratagem to put wool on the eyes of SADC that reforms are on the way while the government was determined to prevent key processes leading to reform.  But even with that charade of reform, it was clear to all that reforms could only be implemented with the concurrence of the opposition parties. They would not have given in without the return of their leaders from exile.

 

 Briefly the Commission listed cases of High Treason, murder and other serious crimes as listed below allegedly committed by those who are now in the Command of the LDF. The list below is not exhaustive:

 

Place where crime reported

Criminal Investigation Record Number

Crime

Status of  case

Morija Police Station

CIR 673/01/12

attempted murder

No progress

Mafeteng Police Station

CIR 30/04/12

murder,

No progress

Mohale Police Station

CIR 03/04/12

attempted murder

No progress

Mokhotlong Police Station

CIR 274/06/13

attempted murder

No progress

Thamae Police Station

 

murder

No progress

Police Headquarters

CIR 778/09/14

Murder of a police officer

No progress

 

In all the above cases the suspects are known but the investigations have been blocked by the LDF. The question of impunity by those with guns looms high in these elections. Impunity for those with guns and those who provide them with political cover has led us into a situation where the law does not operate when you are in either the military or hold political office. Paragraph 138 of the Phumaphi Report makes the following damning observation, “… 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.” It is not surprising that most of those alleged to have committed these serious crimes have now been promoted twice within eighteen months and of those several have skipped ranks.

 

The issue was to ensure that the junior officers who have now been elevated above those of their seniors whom they had detained and tortured and/or exiled can legitimately be able to work with their former seniors in the event that those are reinstated into the army. Another issue was to ensure that the suspects are now part of the Command holding all the strategic positions in order to entrench impunity. This means that most of the suspects in serious crimes are now in total control of the LDF. This is a situation whereby the army has now been turned into a militia, completely lacking professionalism. Like in the mafia, what is dominant is the politics of survival of the mob particularly those who head it.

 

I have argued above that the dominant issue about these elections revolves around ending impunity by smashing the criminal gang which has now completely captured all security structures. The army, police and national security structures are now dominated by the suspects in serious crimes. The establishment of the Special Support Unit, a joint police and army unit, has ensured that the police service is captured. Lately it is this group which has been responsible for most of the intimidation and terror taking place in Lesotho. We have cases where they have unlawfully kidnapped people at dead of night travelling in vehicles without number plates. Further, the National Security Service is now headed by one of the army suspects mentioned above. It is an unbelievable story of the capture of state institutions by the militia.

 

One of the reasons why some in the militia are talking about occupying hills and plateaus is to attempt to instil fear on people so that they refrain from going to the polls. Those are futile attempts!

 

On corruption and patronage

 

While the security nightmare has been the major reason why we are where we are, corruption has triggered the present rejection of the government by a considerable number of people. One of the sources of anger of people about corruption revolves around the Bidvest Bank vehicle scheme. The corrupt procedures for the engagement into the security agencies and; the deployment of Mosisili’s children, relatives and allies in all key sectors in the public service provide other source grievances

 

Ø  The Bidvest Bank fleet management deal has proved to be one of the most corrupt deals Lesotho has been faced with for some time. Not only did the deal break all procumbent guidelines, but Bidvest did not bid for the job but was awarded the contract at exorbitant rates which were not affordable. But more importantly the terms of the contract were so lopsided that they could have only been signed by a person who at best was naive and at worst had vested interests in the deal. First the rates were almost two times of what the previous vehicle supplier charged. But more importantly, the government was barred from cancelling the contract unless it bought all the vehicles which were under the contract. The catch is that most of the vehicles which Bidvest Bank provided were the 2006 to 2008 models. They were too old for the purposes they were meant to achieve. The government ultimately conceded that the contract was unaffordable.

 

Ø  Another corrupt scheme which has angered a lot of young people is the employment into the security services. A conspiracy was hatched to employ recruits into all the security agencies on the basis of their membership of the parties in the ruling coalition. While thousands of young people applied for jobs in those, only those who were preselected from the supporters of the parties in the ruling coalition on a proportional basis succeeded. In an affidavit submitted to the High Court one Makhalemele testified how he was dispatched to Mokhotlong to identify potential employees in the police and army. They were offered the jobs. Similarly the former Minister of Police, Monyane Moleleki who left the Democratic Congress revealed how the scheme was devised and implemented. This reveals the extent of the rot in the government.

 

Ø  As part of Mosisili’s attempts to rule from the grave a raft of appointments of his relatives and allies have recently been appointed to key positions in the public service and the government entities. Prominent is the appointment of Mosisili’s son a Chief Delegate in the Lesotho Highland Water Commission. He had earlier appointed his son-in- law as Ambassador in Switzerland. Several other people were also posted in other positions including the appointment of a South African judge as President of the Court of Appeal a month before the elections. All these appointments had only one objective, to ensure that the successor government would have considerable difficulty to run the government because of the planted people in all sectors of the public sector.

 

The above are just reminders that the elections will not immediately deal with the bread and butter issues but will have to untangle the web which Mosisili has woven in the security sector, the public service.  Unwinding corruption which has become institutionalised will be another major task. No wonder why the focus of the political parties has been less on policies and more on removing the existing regime. Similarly, Mosisili and his allies too focused on how to retain power, rather than how to deal with the bread and butter issues. The nearest he came to talking about anything other than power was his promise to build a railway network in Lesotho!

 

Conclusion

 

Lesotho has been going through a crisis which has brought about a lot of international concern over a long period. It is now at the crossroads where it can continue with the old ways which have led us into a cul-de-sac. On the other hand the country has a rare opportunity to wriggle out of the crisis which has tarnished the image of the country.

 

As people go to the polls two days from now they will certainly remember that those countries like Botswana which have been nurturing our self-made crisis are now threatening to abandon us. It could be that other countries are equally fed up even though they may have not yet expressed it. The tone of the discussions during the SADC Summit in Swaziland is a clear indicator that we are now regarded as akin to wayward kids.

 

For Basotho therefore the following reminders are appropriate and they have to take appropriate action on Election Day:

 

a)      We have in the  Command structures of our military who have avoided prison by threatening anybody who dares investigate their crimes;

 

b)      We have a militia which has emerged from the LDF which by threats, bombings and other destabilisation methods have ensured that a government collapses. The rebellion leading to an attempted coup has not been dealt with;

 

c)       We have twenty three soldiers who are still in exile, while others are still facing a Court Marshal for a non-existing mutiny;

 

d)      We have known suspects in the military who have murdered Lt. General Mahao, Sub-Inspector Ramahloko and several others continuing to avoid prosecution.

 

The above is what this election is about. It is about normalising the rule of law and ensuring that people are accountable for their actions.

 

 

 

We wish all our compatriots who have not yet voted a thoughtful and decisive vote on Saturday 03/06/2017. For me my vote will bring freedom to Lesotho!

 

 

 

 

 

MMS/31/05/2017

 

Mosisili’s outburst against SADC: desperation when defeat is certain

 

Overview

 

Fear sometimes drives some people to do weird things. Mosisili’s actions and utterances lately are largely driven by fear which leads him to do and take desperate measures. It is not fear of elections, but fear of the consequences of losing elections especially for those people he has spent two protecting to account for their crimes.  He appoints his allies to key positions weeks before he is tested in the elections; he refuses to comply with SADC’s decisions on holding a pre-election stakeholder forum, and uses the most unsavoury language to convey his view to SADC; and his allies endeavour to secure all high grounds in the country designated as their areas of operation for national security. All these are a result of his fear and probably regret that he called an election unnecessarily; and could suffer his biggest political defeat since his entry into politics. The signs are clear. His most loyal supporters are disserting him rapidly while his opponents are circling around him. This can explain his erratic behaviour in the past three months or so.

 

He has berated all and sundry who had been rescuing him from his self-inflicted wounds over the past twenty years or so. He has refused to have an engagement with his colleagues under the guidance of SADC ahead of the 2017 elections. The pre-election stakeholder dialogue, meant to bring about consensus on the election process and its outcome; and commitment by all stakeholders to implement the SADC decisions was probably the most important activity which could have smoothed the way for a peaceful election. It must be recalled that it is the same SADC which he berates now which has on several occasions rescued him after he had lost power in unstable Lesotho.

 

Mosisili also refused to sign a pledge by political parties to commit to accepting the outcome of the elections a week ago when all significant political parties committed themselves to. This pledge was championed by the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) which has always been in the forefront of the mediation amongst the political forces in Lesotho whenever political conflicts have arisen. It took five days of intense pressure by internal external stakeholders for Mosisili’s party to finally pledge that it will accept the outcome of the elections. Even then, Mosisili could not bring himself to the signing ceremony. He delegated that to his new and untested deputy (22/ 05/2017). We can only hope that this half-hearted commitment will ultimately provide a means through which he will be held to his word. Refusing to sign a pledge to accept the outcome of the elections was a telling development. Mosisili now understands that his chances of winning have been so whittled that he could only stay in power by force. But that, he probably was told, could be done but would not be sustainable.

 

Under this environment we have to assess Mosisili’s recent outbursts against SADC and its implications for peace and security in Lesotho. It is also important to ponder additional indicators of rearguard actions which will have implications for the post election period.

 

Mosisili’s unequal tussle with SADC

 

It is worth mentioning from the start that Mosisili became Prime Minister of Lesotho once again in March 2015 after cobbling together a coalition of seven political parties after the elections. As a result of his mishandling of the government, by the end of June 2015 scores of soldiers had been detained and tortured, while others had fled the country for allegedly being involved in a mutiny. All the leaders of the opposition political parties had fled the country for fear of being killed; the former army Commander Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao had been waylaid and murdered by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF); and SADC had by July 2015 decided to establish an international commission of inquiry to find the circumstances of the latter’s murder. The recommendations of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry was adopted by SADC and all the two years of Mosisili ‘s rule were consumed by attempts to resist to implement those decisions. Following the decision to dissolve Parliament after Mosisili had lost a vote of no confidence, SADC in its Extraordinary Summit in Swaziland decided to have its structures involved in monitoring and smoothing the process towards elections. This is what irked Mosisili.

 

Summit mandated the Facilitator, supported by the Oversight Committee, to conduct a multi-stakeholder national dialogue before the elections set for 3rd June 2017 with the aim of building consensus and trust among all stakeholders and charting the way forward for the implementation of SADC decisions…

 

Rather than see this as a means by which SADC would help to ensure that there is confidence by all stakeholders that the elections would be held in a peaceful manner and the outcome would lead to a stabilised country, Mosisili saw this as interference in Lesotho’s internal affairs. He railed against SADC not only on the substantive issues but also on procedures taken to reach the decisions in Swaziland.  While he rejects outright the idea of holding a multi-stakeholder national dialogue, what seems to have annoyed Mosisili more is the outright rejection of his deputy’s attempts to derail discussion of the issue in the Summit. He laments:

 

We have been informed that despite protestations from the Head of the Lesotho delegation, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing MP, we were NOT accorded the opportunity to be heard. It is for this reason that I take this opportunity to register our strong reservations on the content and procedure adopted by the Double Troika.  We cannot, in good conscience, allow our sovereignty to be sacrificed for whatever reason by a regional body of which we are founding members. It would be a sad day if indeed we were to allow the SADC to degenerate into a body where might reigns supreme.

 

We are aware from multiple sources that Metsing did not have it easy in Swaziland. His previous tactics of charming the facilitator seemed to have run into trouble since all present were now aware that he has used interactions with SADC to play the delaying tactic in implementing the short-term and the long-term decisions of SADC following the adoption of the Phumaphi Report. Indeed, other than the Gaborone Summit in January 2016, Mosisili has avoided attending the crucial meetings of the Double Troika and had delegated attendance to Metsing who had mastered talking reform to avoid reform. This time the strategy did not work. It is this which irked Mosisili to the extent where he threatened to walk away from SADC. “This is NOT the SADC we founded. This is NOT the SADC we would be proud to be a part of. This is NOT the SADC we would like to bequeath unto posterity.”  This Mosisili meant to be a threat. As it happened, the world did not fall apart, on the contrary two messages were later relayed to him.

 

An angrier letter to the Chairperson of SADC came from the President of Botswana showing impatience with Mosisili’s antics. He pointedly showed the absurdity of Mosisili’s claim of interference in Lesotho’s internal affairs by showing how the region has spent considerable time and resources trying to bring about stability in the country. Threatening to withdraw Botswana’s participation in the current efforts, he showed that Botswana has nothing to gain by engaging in this exercise. For observers this was a case where President Khama was trying to show Mosisili that his bluff is really that. Lesotho needs the region, more than ever before. Indeed without SADC and the rest of the international community which has been steadfast in demanding accountability, Lesotho is not in a position prosper. It is even less in a position to threaten SADC.

 

Another letter from King Mswati , Chairperson of SADC, was equally firm telling Mosisili  that SADC has been involved in Lesotho as part of its mandate and urged Lesotho to abide by SADC decisions at the Swaziland Summit.    He pointed out that SADC has been seized with developments in Lesotho over a long period and its continued support is in line with SADC objectives and principles, with the aim of bringing about sustainable political stability, peace and tranquillity. Rebuffing Mosisili’s claims of interference, the King spelt out the obvious, “The decisions are in line with the SADC Treaty and the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.” That should have been obvious to Mosisili and his allies. Mozambican President Nyusi had long spelled out that in an earlier letter to Mosisili after Metsing’s shuttle diplomacy in Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.

 

As can be seen Mosisili’s attempts to defy SADC has not been taken kindly in the region. It has left the country more isolated and vulnerable. In the world of nations, we know that small states like Lesotho can only thrive within a co-operative environment. Mosisili’s actions have weakened Lesotho’s status in the region and beyond. It could be that he has noticed that clinging to power cannot be part of the support SADC would be able to give him. This is why he resisted signing the pledge to accept the outcome of the elections until the pressure became unbearable. SADC with all its weaknesses could not be on his side when he resisted implementing decisions which would bring the rule of law back in the country. It could also not support his concerted efforts to undermine the electoral process.

 

Could Mosisili’s militia also be up to new tricks which could scupper peace in Lesotho? Could Mosisili’s attempts to block the national dialogue and also to refuse to sign the pledge be related to the emerging attempts by LDF to have all high grounds designated as its operational areas part of this?

 

In a letter which has been come to the fore, LDF seeks to secure twenty two hills and plateaus for what it calls for the Ground of Tactical  Importance(GTI).”They will be used for foreseeable security threat and security purposes.” We need not say anything more rather than to suggest that there may be two reasons for the above. First, the sites may be required for purposes of intimidation of opponents of the regime. Internally there is no need to occupy high ground against unarmed opposition. Indeed the militia is more useful and effective around civilian areas where there is immediate access to people it wants to harm.

 

Occupying high grounds could only be conceivably be against other armed people if there were to be an armed intervention after the elections. Mosisili’s allies may be showing their intentions. In such situations, showing your intentions and ensuring that somebody is aware that there may be resistance should there be any intervention is a well known strategy. Such resistance may be short-lived but it surely can be offered.

 

Conclusion

 

 Mosisili’s outbursts against SADC may indicate that he knows that the end is near and does not care what happens after he leaves office. It would remain with his successors to repair the damage in relations with SADC. That is plausible. It however also indicates that he is now aware that his antics and stalling to implement SADC decisions is no longer tolerated by his peers in the region. This is why he has tended to leave the issues of attending such difficult Summits to his deputy who also internally played the role of talking reform in order to block reforms which SADC has decided need to be done.

 

On the other hand, Mosisili may be playing his last cards by allowing his allies to find a way of intimidating people ahead of the elections. The possibility of disruption of the elections and/or refusing to accept the results remains despite of the signing of the Electoral Pledge by Mosisili’s party. One thing is certain; Mosisili is most unlikely going to win the elections in June 2017. All the indicators, including foregoing to contest elections in twenty six constituencies, shows that he has all but conceded that he has lost the initiative. What remains is merely to guard against disruption of elections. The presence of foreign observers goes a long way in ensuring that such attempts are limited in scope.

 

 

 

MMS/ 23/05/2017

 

Diminishing its competitiveness in the 2017 elections: has the Democratic Congress committed political suicide?

Overview

The overriding reason for forming political parties to exist is to vie for power. In a democracy accession to power has a direct relation to winning elections on your own or in alliance with likeminded political parties. Alliances and/or unions amongst political parties are based on the understanding that alone one is unlikely to succeed. In essence, alliances are a way of minimising weakness. It is probably as a result of their perceived electoral weaknesses,  that the Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), conceived and ultimately agreed on an alliance going to the 2017 elections. Both parties have been haemorrhaging support for some time, but the 2015 elections must have jolted them to paper over their differences in order to survive annihilation in the 2017 elections.

The challenge however must have been whether they should unite ahead of the elections, or tactically put their faith in an alliance ahead of the elections. They chose the latter. The formula for such an election, it now looks clear, was one where the smaller partner benefits more inordinately at the expense of the bigger one. This arrangement will have far-reaching consequences for the DC. The two parties agreed that the DC would field candidates in 54 constituencies, while LCD would field candidates in 25 constituencies. The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) would then be supported by both the DC and LCD in one constituency. Without proper analysis, this could be thought to be a tactical masterstroke, but it will be shown to be at best naive and at worst suicidal for the DC in the 2017 elections. This is more so in a one vote two ballot system that is used in Lesotho.

It must be clear that the issues facing the DC in the 2017 elections are largely the following: a) the split from the DC by a significant number of its members who formed the Alliance of Democrats; b) the split from the LCD by an inordinately large number of its members who formed the Movement for Economic Change (MEC); and the fast growth of the All Basotho Convention (ABC). All these challenges have put the DC in a predicament which it attempted to ameliorate by forming an alliance. That alliance however seems to be not only an alliance of the weak, but also one which fast-tracks the demise of the DC. The only beneficiary of the alliance in a small way and for a short period  is the LCD.

Understanding electoral strengths of the DC/LCD Alliance

Projecting election results is a complicated exercise. This is why even the most sophisticated polling systems sometimes fail to accurately predict the outcome. The win by Donald Trump in the recent United States elections shows how difficult a task, predicting is. All conventional wisdom had predicted that he would lose the elections. In Lesotho, we do not have even a rudimentary system of polling yet. This means that we have to take an educated assessment based on a combination of observable enthusiasm and also contributions in public forums in order to make judgements. More often than not, these have tended to provide approximations of reality in the past. This means that observations plays an important role in studies of electoral support.

Our starting point in the analysis of the electoral support of the DC is accordingly the 2015 election results. But we are also cognisant of the fact that a lot has happened since then, as already indicated above.  This will necessarily have to be taken into consideration in assessing the potential electoral strength of any political party. If we are to be generous, it would seem to me that AD could have taken away minimum of 30% of the support from the DC. This means that rather than grow, the DC has probably shrunk by about 30%. The LCD also could have lost more than 50% to the newly formed MEC. But for the sake of consistency, its potential loss will be capped at 30% rather than a higher figure. This means that the election alliance of the two parties started on the wrong footing. They were trying to halt their decimation in the 2017 elections but their combined weakness may not have solved the problem. It could have on the contrary started the total dismantling of the parties after the elections as a result of the bickering on the strategy. For the LCD on the other, it could extent its life for a few more years, since it could benefit from the short-term swallowing of the DC. For both, the  question is whether the post-election period will see them continuing as a united opposition or whether each will go its way after their project of attempting to stay in power fails.

In the 2015 elections DC had lost ground to ABC in terms of constituencies. Out of the eighty constituencies, ABC had 40; DC had 37; LCD had 2; and Basotho National Party (BNP) had 1. It was in the proportional allocation part where DC was able to move ahead of ABC by one seat overall as a result of the 3,000 votes difference between the two. It is thus understandable that the two leading parties in the coalition sought to get together in order to counter their certain defeat in the 2017 elections. But without going into the decline of the two parties, let us consider whether their alliance strengthened the DC. My concern is the DC and not the LCD because it is obvious that the latter is terminally in decline.

Using the twenty five constituencies which will be contested by the LCD as an example, it becomes clear that the alliance does not help the DC at all but could jerk the  LCD up a seat or two if all the DC supporters remain loyal to their party leader’s directive that they vote for LCD.  The table below illustrates this.

 

 

Votes for ABC in 2015 Elections Votes for DC in 2015 Elections Votes for LCD in 2015 Elections
Mechechane 2487 1,681 1,652
Hololo 3088 2,310    427
Stadium Area 5293 2,353   476
Maseru Central 3143 1,173   279
Lithabaneng 5823 2,952   380
Abia 5918 1,195   189
Maama 4947 2,021   321
Qeme 4048 2,629   429
Mahobong 2449 2,210 3,501
Pela tsoeu 2370 2,410 1,085
Maputsoe 3432 1,806     390
Tsikoane 3374 2,143 1,489
Thabana Morena 881 1,472 3,167
Teya-Teyaneng 3930 933    644
Tsoana-Makhulo 3198 2,183 1,014
Thupa-Kubu 3946 2,450    509
Khubetsoana 5323 2,093    615
Berea 4221 2,520    328
Thaba-Phatsoa 3085 2437 1,170
Matlakeng 2319 1,300 1,350
Hlotse 4040 2,958 1,384
Likhetlane 3143 1,174    799
Peka 3959 2,008    544
Mosalemane 3201 2,383    716
Khafung 2744 1,337 2.103

 

The above table shows that DC was relatively competitive in most of the Northern constituencies, Maseru and Thabana Morena which the LCD won. But the LCD has virtually collapsed in all the Northern constituencies. The same situation is observable in Maseru and the Southern constituencies except Thabana Morena. But Thabana Morena is a special case since it’s the stronghold of Selibe Mochoboroane who has since left LCD to form MEC. Disregarding the voters from DC who have gone with AD; and also disregarding the strong growth of ABC; it is obvious that DC was competitive and could have had expectations of success in some of the constituencies. This arrangement has however meant that it has thrown away all the chances of competing in the 2017 elections. Throwing away twenty five constituencies necessarily means that DC has lost the race even before it began.

In the race for constituencies, DC was already behind ABC from the 2015 elections. It has now thrown away its chances even in Pela T’soeu which it had won. But more significantly, DC has thrown away its proportional representation numbers, where it had edged ABC in the last elections. Thus DC has not only thrown away twenty five constituencies before the elections started, but it has also ensured that its share of the proportional representation list will be significantly smaller. The question that needs to be dealt with is what does the DC gain out of this arrangement? More significantly, what does the LCD bring into the party so to say?

Implications of the DC/LCD alliance for the DC

In any negotiations, there can be several outcomes. We can have a mutually beneficial outcome; we can also have winners and losers. Surrender negotiations are however different. While in the first two situations, the negotiations themselves produce the outcome; in surrender negotiations, the victors in war dictate how the loser should behave and modalities of the surrender.  An analysis of the agreement between DC and LCD is akin to the surrender negotiations. They are so one sided that it would be impossible to conceive of two parties trying to get a mutually acceptable outcome. The overall winner is the LCD while the DC accepted the terms of the negotiations.

In the constituencies which DC has fielded candidates for the 2017 elections, there is virtually nothing that the LCD will contribute. In Mokhotlong and the Southern districts the DC will virtually be on its own. LCD has virtually no presence there hence it will not strengthen the DC. On the contrary the impact of both the AD and MEC will ensure that DC has even fewer constituencies and proportional representation representatives. The consequences of this will most likely be devastating for the DC.

After the elections, there is most likely going to be discord and recriminations within the DC when the realisation comes to the fore that the party was duped to accept an alliance which was meant to strengthen it but in reality was likely to destroy it. Indeed if there was genuineness about the arrangement, the parties could have merged and contested elections as a single party rather than to allow a weaker party to dictate the terms of the alliance. It is clear that the LCD negotiated ways to survive, while the DC was either intimidated into agreeing or was dictated to as a result of the mutual fear of the two to lose elections and to face the consequences of the misdeeds of their rule since 2015. Whichever way one looks at it the situation is deem for the DC.

Having surrendered its electoral support to the LCD for no apparent benefit, the DC will almost certainly split or be swallowed by LCD as a result of the above alliance. Questions will be asked why the alliance was reached and who will lead such an alliance. It was easy to paper over the discomfort of some in the DC on the direction and role of the party in some of the challenges facing the government, when the two parties were in coalition. If they lose the elections, as seems most certain, the struggle for power will be intense. The question ultimately is whether the DC will emerge victorious, or whether the mantle of leadership will be passed on to Metsing of the LCD.

Conclusion

It is not often that a political party surrenders its support base to another. For DC, this is exactly what has happened. A much smaller party has taken over not only the constituency votes of the bigger one, but has also gone a long way to borrow the votes of the bigger one to enhance its proportional representation numbers. This is however dependent on whether the grumble within the DC members about the arrangement will not lead to a rebellion against the leadership at the polls.

The ostensible reason for the alliance was to block the opposition from winning the elections, but the prognosis is not good. The split of both the AD from DC and the split of MEC from LCD indicate that unity of the weak does not make them any stronger.  For LCD, MEC is likely to deprive it of the votes throughout the country but particularly in the South.

In the circumstances, it is clear that the DC is going to lose the elections and worse still it will either split or be swallowed by a much smaller LCD after the elections. A reconfiguration of Lesotho politics is about to begin.

 

MMS/07/05/2017

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