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Mosisili’s final weeks: can his successors untangle the web he’s woven?

 

Overview

 

Two and half years out of office as Prime Minister for Mosisili were an unbelievable nightmare. Almost two years since he regained office, though not power, Mosisili’s time has been an unimaginable nightmare for Lesotho and the Southern African region. But the election period which was the result of Mosisili’s defeat in Parliament and the subsequent dissolution of Parliament, have witnessed a sprint to fill the gaps in capturing key state institutions so that he could rule from the grave. This will prove to be the most pivotal period in Mosisili’s attempts to fully capture the state so that his successors will have virtually no influence in the future of the country for at least twelve months if they are innovative. Without adequate plans, this would be the end of their political dominance even if they win the elections.

 

Mosisili’s second coming as Prime Minister was dramatic and tragic at the same time. The seven-party coalition which Mosisili cobbled was too narrow to effectively govern, particularly in a divided country. But more importantly when one considers that three of those political parties did not strictly speaking qualify to even have one seat in parliament that makes the situation worse. In the 2015 elections, political parties were awarded a proportional seat if they had amassed 4,600 votes throughout the country. The table below shows the number of votes three of those parties Mosisili struck a coalition with had in the 2015 elections. 

 

Political Party

Total number votes

Number of seats per quota

Number of compensated seats

Marematlou Freedom Party

3.413

0

1

Basutuland Congress Party

2,721

0

1

Lesotho People’s Congress

1,951

0

1

 

 

 

As will be clear, all above were compensated with one seat per political party because those were left over when seats were allocated. Since we do not have an overhang system as in Germany where this Mixed Member Proportional model comes from (MMP), the seats were given to the next deserving in numbers. Incidentally each of the leaders of the above political parties became a Minister even though they did not qualify to have a seat but were rewarded for failure so to say.

 

The period was also tragic since the narrow coalition forced Mosisili to either work civilly with the opposition or resort to the use of force. He was not able to resort to the former since some of his coalition partners and the unreformed military wanted vengeance against those in the opposition who attempted to remove the then Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Kamoli. In the end people were killed, tortured and exiled. This led to the establishment of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry and subsequent decisions by SADC.

 

At the executive level, Mosisili cleared the decks by removing the Government Secretary, who heads the public service; and not less than fifteen Principal Secretaries; removed the Commander of the army; removed the Commissioner of Police; removed the President of the Court of Appeal; and unsuccessfully attempted to remove most Ambassadors from their postings. The replacements of those were revealing in that all the new appointments were made up of card carrying members of the seven party coalition. But more significantly, the re-appointment of Kamoli as a Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force consolidated Mosisili’s control over the armed formations. Working with the other lawless elements in the force, who had refused to submit to civilian control in 2014-2015, the transformation of the forces to a militia was completed.

 

The processes to ensnare all critical structures of the state into a situation where they have become Mosisili’s echoes have continued up to four weeks before the snap elections expected 03/06/2017. They are unlikely to stop even up to the last day. Since the dissolution of Parliament, Mosisili has accelerated the process of appointments with a clear view to ensure that his influence will be felt long after he has disappeared from the political scene. As will be argued below this is not only unethical but goes against the conventions in a Westminster system of governance. What is key here is to clarify the cardinal principles underlying the caretaker government in the Westminster system of governance and how Mosilili has fared. The question then is whether Mosisili’s successors will be able to unravel the system which was meant to prevent them from implementing their policies after the elections.

 

 My well informed assumption is that Mosisili will lose the elections in spite of intimidation and fraud that is expected. But, more importantly, Mosisili is likely to use the militia he has created to retain office and not power, after losing the elections. The real power will always be with his militia rather than him and his allies. But the militia he has created and several other civilians are fearful of the possible loss of elections by their patron since they are listed in the Phumaphi Commission Report to have committed several capital crimes. They are therefore in a panic and would be ready for anything to prevent the transition

 

Flouting the conventions of a caretaker government

 

It is important to note that our constitution is based on the Westminster system of government. Not everything that sustains that system is therefore written in the constitution. This is so in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India and others.

 

I am therefore not going to refer to anything which is written in our constitution but only to certain unwritten customs and conventions which we have observed over the years and which come to us as a consequence of having inherited a parliamentary system of government from the United Kingdom. This is important since much of what is fundamentally significant to the successful operation of a parliamentary system of government is based on custom and convention. The constitution does not and could not attempt to cover every conceivable eventuality.  Jurisprudence on this issue is rich and has generally been the foundation of interpretation of what is the norm in a parliamentary system of government.

 

Briefly, the caretaker period begins at the time Parliament is dissolved and continues until the election result is clear or, if there is a change of government, until the new government is appointed. 

 

 During the caretaker period, the business of government continues and ordinary matters of administration still need to be addressed.  However, government work is restricted in at least three ways:

 

a)      important decisions which are likely to commit an incoming government are not made by Ministers who cannot be held accountable once the Parliament  has been dissolved;

 

b)      making significant appointments is not done;

 

c)      entering into major contracts or undertakings is also not done.

 

Major reasons behind these conventions are clear. It is to protect the interests of the state against misuse by politicians who could be tempted to electioneer or to hamstring their competitors after the elections. But more importantly is the fact that after the dissolution of Parliament, there are no oversight mechanisms for actions of Ministers. Again in our system of government after the dissolution of Parliament, Ministers are technically ordinary members of the public. Ministers can only be appointed from Parliament hence they no longer have the political authority once dissolution has been effected.  

 

How then do these fit with Mosisili’s recent actions after the dissolution of Parliament? At every level one views this, it is clear that Mosisili has not gone into a caretaker mode. For him there is no difference between the post-election period in 2015 when he ascended to office and the present time after the dissolution of Parliament. In an earlier publication in lesothoanalysis I argued that the main reason why Mosisili would not resign and hand over power to anybody designated by Parliament was to extend his rule even if it’s for a few months in order to complete the unfinished business of deploying his relatives and allies to key positions. Some of those appointments like the appointment of his son-in-law as Ambassador, Moshe Kao, to Switzerland were done on the verge of dissolution. This thus was technically before the caretaker role had kicked in. If anything, it can be criticised for reasons like nepotism and also that it did not go through proper channels.

 

In order to show the utter disregard of the caretaker conventions I list hereunder key appointments which Mosisili has been rushing to fill before the elections. Most have already been filled, while those of Ambassadors seem to be stalling because of questions being raised by the Public Service Commission.

 

Post

Location

Name

Status

Chief Delegate

Lesotho Highland Water Commission

Rethabile Mosisili

Appointed (April 2017)

Ambassador

Dublin, Ireland

Dr. M. Ntho

Deferred by Public Service (10/04/2017)

Ambassador

Tokyo, Japan

Mr. T. Green

Deferred by Public Service (10/04/2017)

Ambassador

Berlin, Germany

Mr. A. Rat’sele

Deferred by Public Service (10/04/2017)

Consul General

Durban, South Africa

Mr. R. Nkoka

Deferred by Public Service (10/04/2017)

President 

Court of Appeal

Justice Nugent

Appointed (22/04/2016)

 

By any standards these are key positions which under no circumstances should be made during the caretaker period. Lesotho Highlands Commission is the most important institution on both infrastructural development and also strategic water resources in the country. Mosisili’s son, is not only the least qualified person to represent Lesotho, but represents the type of disruption to the work of the Commission that it could not be sustained by any successor government. At the critical stage when work has to begin, Mosisili brings his son whose only qualification is that he is his son. This is part of the web that Mosisili is weaving. At the personal level, he probably hopes that his son would get a hefty compensation when a new government takes over. That his son will be removed he must know.

 

The same goes to the key ambassadorial positions in key countries. At the very least, during a period like this, governments can appoint people in acting positions not long term ones which will affect the ability of the new government to implement its policies. It is wrong and hopefully the countries those designated ambassadors are supposed to go to will see through this mirage Mosisili is weaving and wait for the new government to confirm their appointment.

 

The final stroke by Mosisili has been the appointment of Justice Nugent to head the Court of Appeal. The question is not about his competence or allegiance to the Mosisili regime. It is about the period and the significance of the appointment. Being appointed during this period to a senior position is like that is like waving a red flag. Senior judicial appointments are particularly sensitive in a period leading to the holding of elections. This week the Lesotho media has been reporting the concern of the Independent Electoral Commission about the mood in the country. The Commission suspects that the post-election period could be troublesome. It is these challenges which will place the judiciary at the centre of the electoral process if there are election petitions. Will Mosisili’s competitors be comfortable with a judge who has been appointed and spirited to Lesotho four weeks before elections? It’s a question of controversy and perception that appointing bodies and appointees should be wary of.

 

Indeed in Australia there is unanimous view that the ‘significance’ of an appointment can be assessed through two considerations – the importance of the position and the likelihood that the appointment would be controversial. Controversy is the last thing a judicial appointment needs.

 

The question therefore is how can Mosisili be stopped? Also how and who can ensure that this web which Mosisili has woven including use of the militia, key public sector appointments and also key judicial appointments during the caretaker stage don’t affect the electoral process? But more importantly, are there ways of unravelling this web shortly after the elections?

 

 Mosisili’s last stand

 

Mosisili knows that in any credible elections he will lose. The only question would be the margin of his loss. This is why he has now firmly nails his colours to the mast to defiance and obstinacy. His last chance is to refuse to be placed in a situation where there are internal and external arbiters on what he does. This is why he has emphatically rejected SADC’s decision that there must be a pre-election Stakeholder Forum arranged by the Facilitator and the Oversight Committee.

 

Writing to the King of Swaziland as Chairman of SADC, in typical Mosisili style, he scolds SADC for interfering in Lesotho’s internal affairs by suggesting in the Communiqué of the Extra Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government, in March 18th 2017 that the Facilitator and the Oversight Committee be charged with the responsibility to “monitor the political and security situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho, during the election period.” He views this as an attempt to erode Lesotho’s sovereignty. But more importantly Mosisili insultingly labels the multi-stakeholder forum spurious.

 

At para 12, the Facilitator and the Oversight Committee are charged with yet another spurious responsibility “to conduct a multi-stakeholder national dialogue before the Elections set for 3rd June, 2017”. With respect, we find this most unrealistic and absurd. How and where on earth, would anyone have time for this multi-stakeholder dialogue during the campaign period for elections?

 

Thus Mosisili flatly rejects the decision to have a multi-stakeholder forum. This is ostensibly because of electioneering processes and also for purposes of defending Lesotho’s sovereignty. The real reason however is that Mosisili wants to have a free reign to intimidate and misuse state resources as he goes towards elections. More importantly, he knows that all the opposition political parties would like to use the forum to commit to a peaceful election and to bring about the necessary monitoring and guarantees of the same by SADC. Indeed in a joint statement, the four opposition political parties which were represented in the dissolved Parliament have reiterated the need for a pre-election multi-stakeholder national dialogue in order to reign in Mosisili and his cohorts in order to ensure peaceful elections. Nobody is now talking about free or fair elections because that is an unattainable thing. But people are demanding peaceful elections.

 

Mosisil goes on laments that “para 13” of the Communiqué brings about the endorsement of convening a Forum immediately after elections to engage the government on implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry. He expresses shock at the veiled threat of the “consequences” for failure to observe timelines imposed on us. This he argues is a complete departure from established procedure for managing inter-state affairs.

 

But what seems to irk Mosisili most is that “…the Head of the Lesotho delegation, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, MP, we were NOT accorded the opportunity to be heard.”  Indeed Mosisili makes his own veiled threat to withdraw Lesotho from SADC. He argues “It would be a sad day if indeed we were to allow SADC to degenerate into a body where might reigns supreme…This is NOT the SADC we would be proud to be a part of.”  

 

This essentially means that Mosisili has drawn a line on the sand that he does not want to have anybody to tamper with his project to live beyond his mandate after the elections. It means that all national and international restrains which could ensure peaceful elections are thrown overboard. Indeed the type of elections which took place in Zimbabwe in 2008 is the only likely end if Mosisili has his way. What are the scenarios for Lesotho?

 

Conclusion and scenarios

 

What we have tried to show here are essentially three things. First is the fact that Mosisili has woven a web at all levels of the state in order to secure his future after his prospective loss in the coming elections. He has done so by embedding his relatives and surrogates in all structures, domestic and foreign in order to rule from the grave. But more importantly, in a few years he has succeeded in turning all the armed formations in the country into his militia which will do anything but accept his replacement. This is made more important as a result of the findings of the Phumaphi Commission that the leaders of that militia which are now elevated to be part of the Command, face criminal investigations for High Treason, murder and other serious crimes. The militia is unlikely to want to end their lives in prison.

 

Second, I have shown that the caretaker conventions place restrictions on the caretaker government. Mosisili has all but ignored those and is speedily trying to fill all significant posts in both the public service and the parastatal sector.  This is also part of the web he wants to weave for his successors.

 

Thirdly, Mosisili dismisses SADC for trying to slow him down on this path of ignoring every possible restraint as elections approach. What is clear is that he has seen through SADC’s weaknesses of dealing with him with kid gloves. For more than a year after it made decisions based on the Phumaphi Commission, Mosisili has played SADC around at times claiming he has accepted the decisions to undertake constitutional, public sector and security reforms only to do nothing of the sort. It was a game of talking reform not to reform. As a result of this, the situation as elections approach is more perilous than at any time before.

 

Two scenarios are clearly discernable as elections approach. First is the scenario of the Mosisili militia intimidating people before and during the elections. This could lead to a situation where elections are disrupted particularly in rural areas. This is most likely scenarios since losing elections would certainly lead to the prosecution of the militia for the crimes they have committed from 2007. The stakes are very high. Protecting the people against the militia is not possible unless there is massive foreign monitoring which Mosisili does not want. We’ll see whether Mosisili will cooperate with Ramaphosa’s proposed mission to Lesotho on 9th May 2017. So far, Mosisili has not responded to the correspondence from the Facilitator.

 

The second scenario, which can be called the devil’s scenario, is one where the winners of the elections are eliminated. This is more so if whoever wins the elections puts himself into a public ceremony for swearing in without any protection. Just imagine that the criminal gang which forced the former Prime Minister Thabane into exile in 2014 and again forced him and other opposition leaders into exile in 2015 can now be expected to look after the security of any of those. It would at best be reckless and at worst stupid to present a clear opportunity for an assassination to the militia. About the best that can be done is a private swearing in ceremony which would allow the new Prime Minister to arrange an appropriate security detail after before an inauguration. The Gambian situation presents itself as more attractive one for whoever wins elections.

 

It is clear to me that Mosisili will lose the elections and will try all within his means to hang on to office. Even if he wants to leave office, his militia is most unlikely to agree to hand themselves over to account for their crimes.

 

 

 

MMS/30/04/2017

 

Meaning and implications of judgment by Constitutional court on democratic governance in Lesotho

 

 

 

Overview: contest for power between executive and parliament

 

On Wednesday 29th March 2017, a few days before the issue of the judgement by the Lesotho Constitutional Court on two applications on the dissolution of parliament; the power and role of the Council of State on matters of dissolution of parliament; whether the minister of finance can cause to be accessed funds in the consolidated fund without parliamentary authority; and whether in such access, the minister can use funds which don’t exist in the 2016/17 budget line items; the Venezuelan Supreme Court considered a similar or related issue. It was a question of whether the government could by-pass an opposition controlled parliament to pass the budget. The Supreme Court came to an amazing ruling whereby it abrogated to itself the power of parliament to pass the budget. When the Lesotho judgement came out a few days later, it was remarkably similar. While in Venezuela the court abrogated power to itself on behalf of the executive, in Lesotho the court handed over power to the executive to the exclusion of parliament. It seems we are in good company!

 

Julio Borges, the president of the Venezuelan Assembly correctly pointed out that the “….Supreme Court had stripped power from congress” and that move allows President Maduro to rule by fiat.  Like in Lesotho, where Parliament had refused to allow the tabling of the budget in view of the numerical inferiority of the government numbers in the house, the situation in the Venezuelan situation also revolved around both the budget and the refusal of Congress to “.. authorise a joint venture with private companies by Venezuela’s state-run oil company.” Due to national and international pressure, the Supreme Court eventually reversed its decision.

 

As can be seem above, there have been remarkable similarities between the contestations in both Lesotho and Venezuela with varying outcomes. The key however is that in both cases, the three legs of the state have been mixed up and in contestation about power. In both cases, the courts have largely undermined the role of parliament as both a legislative body and also as an oversight body. The meaning and implications of the latest constitutional court case in Lesotho are more significant and perhaps the most damaging one for the sustainability of democracy since independence. Even before the coming of the 1992 constitution, the Lesotho courts had a tradition of independence and protectors of the rights of citizens. The judgments of both Mapetla C.J. and Mofokeng J. are part of that proud tradition. That tradition has however been challenged by judgments like that given by the constitutional Court on Monday 03/04/2017, which subordinated all the key governance institutions to the executive. 

 

Vote of no confidence and dissolution of parliament

 

For the first time in Lesotho political history, Parliament on 1st March 2017 overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence on the government. That was a historic day which unfortunately also brought into the picture the fragility of the country’s governance institutions as a whole. The Prime Minister, who was tossed out of power, rather than submit to the wishes of Parliament advised the King to dissolve parliament. A brief revisit of the applicable sections of the constitution is necessary in order to have a common understanding of the issues under contestation. Detailed discussions on the constitution have been dealt with in an earlier post and will consequently not be the subject of discussion here. Rather the focus will be on the judgment and its implications for democratic rule in Lesotho.

 

Prorogation and Dissolution of Parliament are dealt with in Part 3, of the constitution. According to Section 83 of the constitution, dissolution of parliament may be done by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister. However, paragraph (a) spells out clearly that with the advice of the Council of State, the King may “refuse to dissolve Parliament” (My emphasis) if he considers that the Government of Lesotho can be carried out without dissolution and it is not in the interests of Lesotho. The Lesotho system of governance does not accord the King with executive power, hence the provision that this can be done with the advice of the Council of State. It means that it is not up to the King sitting with the Prime Minister, who is the subject of the discussion, as Mosisili argues, but with a body established for that purpose. In one hand, this Section provides the safeguards against a monarchical dictatorship while on the other hand; it provides a cover for the King against criticism for His decisions. The question is whether that cover remains after the judgement of the Constitutional Court?

 

Giving judgement, Justice Moiloa ruled that the King acted constitutionally and lawfully in terms of the Lesotho constitution. The court added the section in question did not prescribe that the King ought to act with the advice of the Council of State in circumstances where the prime minister acted within three days to tender advice for dissolution of parliament. “On the contrary it is clear that if the king receives advice from the prime minister within three days after losing a vote of no confidence, he can act according to the advice of the premier alone.” This view of the constitution is not only wrong but embarrassing as I will demonstrate later. The constitution is body of law with coherence and one section must necessarily be read with the others. What would be the point of having the Council of State if it can be by-passed by a wounded Prime Minister? Again what would be the point in having a vote of no confidence framed in the way it is in Section 83(5) if that would have no consequences. The Subsection spells out that a motion of no confidence “shall not be effective ….unless it proposes the name of the member of the National Assembly for the King to appoint in the place of the Prime Minister.”

 

What this judgment does is to sweep away the concept of a constitutional monarch and replace it with an executive one where the King makes decisions without any structure rather than acting in Council as envisaged by the constitution. It also introduces a potentially damaging contestation for power between the King, who now has discretion on his own as opposed to deciding in council with the Council of State. If the all powerful Prime Minister and the King who now will not be strictly speaking be constitutional monarchs disagree, what will be the consequences?

 

Parliament versus Minister of Finance

 

Another issue of contestation in the Constitutional Court was whether the Minister of Finance can cause to be accessed funds in the Consolidated Fund where the budget was neither been laid nor passed by Parliament in terms of Section 113 of the Constitution. Also important was whether an advance against the budget from the Consolidated Fund can be made if there was no budget line item in the preceding budget. Concretely there was no budget line item for General Elections in the 2016/2017 budget. This therefore meant that the Minister of Finance could not create a new budget line item called General Elections in any advance from the Consolidated Fund.

 

For ease of reading, Section 113 of the Constitution dealing with authorisation of expenditure in advance of appropriation spells out that Parliament may make provision for advance withdrawal from the Consolidated Funds if it appears to the Minister of Finance that the Appropriation Act will not come into operation by the beginning of the financial year. Two important provisos are however laid out on the modalities of the advance withdrawal. First Section 113 (a) provides that advance withdrawals “..shall not exceed in total one-third of the sums included in the estimates of the expenditure for the proceeding financial year that have been laid before the Assembly; (My emphasis). Section 113 (b) further amplifies the position by emphasising that the advance from the funds of proceeding year can only mirror the budget line items of the preceding financial year. “….no sums shall be so authorised to be withdrawn to meet expenditure on any head of expenditure in that financial year if so sums had been voted to meet expenditure on that head of expenditure in respect of the preceding financial year….” (My emphasis).

 

The judgment of the Constitutional Court on the budgetary issues has two elements. First is the question of the respective roles of both Parliament and the Minister of Finance. In argument, the focus was on whether the budget was laid before Parliament in terms of both the Constitution and the Stating Orders. Whether the budget was laid has consequences since it can trigger the advance withdrawal from the Consolidated Funds before the budget was approved. The Court surprisingly conceded that the budget was not laid because Parliament “frustrated” that process but then went on to decide that the Minister can cause access to the Consolidated Funds.

 

The matter revolved around understanding of the meaning of both “preceding year” and “proceeding year.” The court read “proceeding year” as 2016/2017 financial year which ended in March 2017. This is was a serious misdirection and gigantic embarrassment. Accounting 101 and English 101 would have provided sufficient clarification of what those terms mean in accounting terms and ordinary English. Proceeding year can only be the budget of the following year. But in this case that budget does not exist for two reasons. The budget was not laid in Parliament, but more importantly even if it had been laid, when Parliament was dissolved, it would have disappeared in terms of the law. Laying the budget in simple everyday language means that it was not presented to Parliament. If it wasn’t laid it does not exist. Ideas in someone’s head about what the budget would look like may exist, but for all intents and purposes it does not exist.

 

Having misread proceeding for preceding, the court decided that the Minister can cause access to the Consolidated Funds without a budget. The question is whose budget is the Minister accessing? Who approved it? Who will oversee it since nobody except the Minister and probably his cabinet colleagues know about such a budget?

 

Embarrassingly the court in its haste to be on the side of the executive, failed to make a ruling on whether in a case such as the 2016/2017 budget where there was no budget line item for general elections, whether the Minister can now manufacture such a budget line item retrospectively in order to make an advance from the past. I emphasise that no ruling was made on this matter despite the fact that it was one of the prayers by the applicants.

 

Understanding the decision and its implications for democratic governance

 

The oxygen of democratic governance is its Parliament, which not only makes laws but also oversees expenditure and governance in any country. Where parliament is weak, the executive does as it pleases. This is why the judgment like this which sidelines Parliament is regrettable and has serious implications for the future, unless it is overturned. In a similar manner, ignoring the Council of State on questions of dissolution of Parliament raises the spectre of a one man rule. It raises the Prime Minister above all institutions i.e. Parliament and the Council of State.

 

Perhaps more revealing on why decisions like these have to be viewed as arising from a perspective that the executive is right and all other checks on the executive are wrong can be found in both the judgment of the Constitutional Court here and also the decisions of the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Philosophically the Constitutional Court points out that “…..“in interpreting provisions of the constitution… we adopt a remedial approach in order to give the constitution purpose and meaning that avoids calamitous results that could cause collapse of the state and paralysis of its functions”. The issue therefore, as I see it, was how to rescue the calamitous decisions of the executive to refuse to hand over power after defeat in Parliament. It was not about the proper interpretation of the Constitution.

 

In a similar philosophical mode, the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s justification for a dash for power was motivated by an attempt to protect the executive against Parliament where the opposition is dominant. Justification was that “…the court’s ruling was not seeking to supplant congress but rather to guarantee the rule of law so long as congress remains obstructionist by refusing to sign off on a budget and key economic decisions that Maduro says are needed to overcome widespread shortages and triple-digit inflation.” It is important to point out that this view of the world is the antithesis of the separation of powers in a constitutional democracy. Courts adjudicate. They don’t rule. They also don’t amend the constitution as this judgment of the Constitutional Court has effectively done. It read that proceeding year means the preceding year.

 

The overall impact of this judgment will be felt for many years unless it is appealed and repealed or an amendment of the Constitution is effected. Four critical implications of this court judgment are listed below. They are not listed in any order of priority.

 

a)      Sections of the Constitution referring to the vote of no confidence can effectively be ignored. They would serve no purpose since the Prime Minister can effectively nullify the decision of Parliament by single handedly advising the King to dissolve Parliament. In a similar manner the King need not consult anybody but can dissolve Parliament. The King all at once now has discretionary powers without limit as was envisaged by the drafters of the Constitution that Lesotho has a Constitutional Monarch;

 

 b)      The sections of the Constitution which refer to the role of the Council of State are ineffective. Section 95 (8) which authorises “…any member of the Council, supported by not less than seven members, may call a meeting of the Council of State” is also by decision of the Constitutional Court redundant since the Council can be ignored. It is common cause that eight members of the Council of State sought a meeting and such a meeting was denied in spite of the stipulations of Section 95;

 

 c)       The role of Parliament as provided for in the Constitution has been clipped. The Minister of Finance can effectively by-pass Parliament in the budgeting process by causing access to funds which have neither been laid nor approved by Parliament. In fact the Minister of Finance is free and able not to table the budget for four months of the financial year without bothering about Parliament. There is no obligation on the Minister of Finance to table a budget before the end of March as per Section 112. The court has effectively given the Minister authority to table the budget as and when he pleases. Nothing would stop the Minister to table the budget in July of the given year. He could however go on a spending spree using funds budgeted in the previous year as opposed to the proceeding year as was in the Constitution until it was struck off a few days ago;

 

 d)      The oversight role of Parliament is dead and buried. Parliament can only oversee administration and budget which it has provided. Without a transparent budgeting process, there is no way in which Parliament can oversee a non-existent budget. Mismanagement of public funds has now been given a legal cover. Auditing is based on approved budgets and accompanying plans. When the Minister of Finance is given carte blanche on public funds we can only imagine what will happen from now on. Our parliamentarians from now on will only operate within the confines provided by the executive.

 

Conclusion

 

We live in dangerous times. Without Parliamentary oversight, Lesotho has now been plunged from a political crisis into an anarchic public management system. The low hanging fruits principle posits that even those who did not plan to steal will as long as there are no safeguards and also no restraints on those in office.

 

This disastrous judgment has now brought about the country at crossroads. If it is not successfully appealed, there will no longer be any accountability in Lesotho. It will only be word according to the executive, which has not been shown to be self-restraining when it comes to public funds and other areas. It will be the survival of the fittest and nothing else. Once this government is out out of office, there will be no alternative but to amend or write a Constitution, since the Constitutional Court has permanently destroyed the existing one.

 

God save Lesotho!!!

 

 

 

MMS/05/04/2017

 

The Swaziland SADC Summit and the Lesotho Crisis: can the diplomatic lethargy be broken?

Overview

For some of us, the January 2015 Gaborone SADC Summit seemed like the beginning of the new dawn in Southern African politics. It was a Summit where uncharacteristically, SADC forced the Lesotho government to accept its decisions emanating from the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry and tasked it with implementation. It was a tough stance in view of the fundamental nature of those decisions on the continued survival of the seven party coalition government in Lesotho. Implementation of those decisions was bound to have a destabilising effect on the government for at least two reasons.

First, the insistence that Lt. General Kamoli, Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) be relieved of his Command was fundamental. Kamoli was the clue that held together the civilian and military elements which had been involved in serious cases of High Treason, murder and others. The Phumaphi Commission listed all those who had avoided accountability for their crimes because of his protection. Like in mafia cases around the world, those who are under the protection of the mafia boss cannot be touched unless the boss is taken out. The boldness with which one Sechele, an LDF member, testifying before the Phumaphi Commission, made his stance known was a clear indication that he was himself well protected. Sechele dared the police to try to investigate crimes within LDF. He argued that, no member of the army would be handed over to the police during investigations. But more importantly, in its findings, the Commission found that:

139(q) That there are several investigations by LMPS on LDF members which were hindered by the Lt. General Kamoli by refusing to hand over suspects to the police. This disregard for the Rule of Law by the LDF, is evidenced by existing warrants of arrests (Annex) on some members of LDF including Lt. General Kamoli charged with High treason arising from the 30th August 2014 unrests.

Without removing the head of the network, both the civilian and military suspects would accordingly never account for their actions in a court of law. It is not surprising that shortly after Kamoli left, the regime floundered and was easily eased out. No one knows what would have happened to the opposition if Kamoli was still in total control of the army when they went for the vote of no confidence.

Second, the decision by SADC that all those in the army who are alleged, to have committed serious crimes listed by the Commission, be suspended while their cases are further investigated, touched on the core of impunity in Lesotho. An analysis of the warrants of arrest as shown in the Phumaphi Commission Report shows that a core existed in LDF who are invariably involved in most of those crimes shown. This meant that their suspension would at a go, remove the bulk of the team which was involved in several cases of murder; high treason; and use of bombs in an attempt to eliminate specified high profile personalities in the Lesotho government of the day. Recognition of the significance of this fact is that most of those suspects have now been promoted two times within one year in order to ensure that they are in control of all sectors of the LDF.

The obfuscation which the government attempted to do from January 2016 on the implementation of the SADC decisions on this was largely a result of the understanding that it could not survive without both Kamoli and those of his lieutenants who were committed to the joint project of mutual protect from the law by the government and the army. The question throughout this period was whether SADC was a willing partner in allowing impunity or whether it was gullible? For a while no one was sure, but there was virtually no movement in any of those areas. I dare say that, were it not because of the insistence of the U.S. on this matter, even the departure of Kamoli would not have been possible. Failure to implement the SADC decisions would have ensured that Lesotho would lose its beneficiary status under AGOA.

The question then is whether the Swaziland Summit (17/03/2017) can be seen as a game changer or another adherence to the Lesotho government’s obfuscation?

 SADC Summit Decisions in Swaziland on Lesotho

Following the receipt and discussions of the reports from both the Facilitator and the Oversight Committee, the Summit expressed concern about the circumstances in Lesotho which have necessitated the holding of the snap elections. Within the same context, the Lesotho was urged to address the fundamental challenges and bring about political stability. This recognition of lack of focus on the key issues over the past few years is important since it also indicates that SADC itself is fully aware that what it has tolerated since 2015 is not sustainable. SADC was presented with a mirage rather than reality on the fundamental questions about governance and rule of law. It is for the same reasons that the following issues were decided upon:

  1. Facilitator and the Oversight Committee were mandated to closely monitor the political and security situation in Lesotho during the election period;
  2. Facilitator and the Oversight Committee were mandated to conduct a “… multi-stakeholder national dialogue before the elections 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”;
  3. Summit also decided that a Double Troika Summit convenes soon after the new government is formed after the elections on largely two things. First, on the need to implement SADC decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission and the roadmap for such implementation. But more importantly the engagement should emphasise the need to address the “fundamental challenges, commitment to implement SADC Decisions and the consequences of not implementing the decisions and observing timelines” (my emphasis).

The issues therefore are that as Lesotho moves towards elections, SADC has now decided to intensify its intervention and monitoring. The decisions go beyond monitoring. It is now clear that Lesotho has become more than an irritant to the region; it has become a security concern. This is why the Facilitator is expected to monitor closely both the political and security situation in Lesotho ahead of elections.

Understanding the decisions

In an environment where there are concerns as Lesotho moves towards elections, it is critical that there is an intense international participation in order to deter intimidation. Lesotho’s institutions are virtually on the ground. Parliament for example, before its dissolution, was an arena of intimidation, with Members of Parliament being subjected to body searches and other forms of harassment. In parliament, the Speaker was no longer behaving like one, but a political hack pursuing the interests of the government.

The only thing, perhaps which provided the opposition with an opportunity to deal a mortal blow against the government was the everyday presence of some members of the Oversight Committee in Parliament. Without them, I have no doubt Members of Parliament would have been thrown out of the House when they resisted allowing the Minister of Finance to present the budget. The Speaker shouted over and over again that those who don’t want to listen to the budget speech must go out. None left the house until the parliamentary Business Committee sat and rearranged the business of the House. Standing Orders were being flouted with impunity by the one person who was expected to be their guardian. It is for reasons like this that the envisaged intense monitoring will minimise the attempts to subvert the elections.

The second most important decision by the SADC Summit is the decision that the Facilitator with the Oversight Committee should convene a multi-stakeholder forum to forge a consensus and trust on the implementation of SADC decisions. For anybody who has familiarity with the issues in Lesotho, it will be clear that we are faced with an extremely divided nation. SADC decisions on accountability and rule of law are the only issues around which there can be an agreement. This is not because all parties subscribe to those principles, but as a result of broad international consensus that Lesotho must be brought into the fold of civilised community of nations after the aberrations of the past two years where might was seen as right.

The multi-stakeholder forum as I understand it, is largely to agree on the following issues:

  1. a) June elections should be held in an environment of peace and tranquillity;
  2. b) Iron out obstacles for the achievement of the above;
  3. c) Bring about international guarantees to ensure peaceful elections;
  4. d) Ensure that all stakeholders recognise that SADC decisions arising from Phumaphi Commission are binding and inviolable.

In essence, the international community in Southern Africa is through these decisions saying to one and all stakeholders that the time for obfuscation on the implementation of the decisions is over. Indeed, schemes like the general amnesty bill, which has died a natural death with the dissolution of parliament, are not on the table. The only issue remaining is implementation of decisions.

Finally, SADC has sent out a message that it will follow-up the matters raised in the pre-election stakeholder forum with the newly elected government with two things in mind. First, to ensure that decisions reached in the pre-election forum are followed to the letter within the timeframes spelled out. But more importantly, it will serve as a warning to the new government that failure to implement the decisions will have consequences. If Mosisili had been given as clear a message as this in 2016 he would not have prevaricated the way he has done. It is a situation which we all regret that more than twelve months after the Gaborone Summit, SADC is only waking up to the reality that Lesotho has not moved in the right direction.

Conclusion

Establishing the Phumaphi Commission, even without the diligence to follow-up on implementation will always remain as SADC’s most important decision to assist Basotho to help themselves against a regime which was determined to operate in a sectarian and partisan way to suppress their rights.  It is doubtful whether people would have had the courage and the rallying weapon to free themselves from the clutches of Mosisili and Kamoli if they did not have the document to show what is wrong with the Mosisili regime. The vote of no confidence which has effectively demobilised and delegitimized Mosisili directly arises from the setting up of the Phumaphi Commission. It was the Commission which laid the foundation for the collapse of the regime. The spark however was the defections from the leading parties in the coalition, as a result of both rampant corruption and leadership squabbles, which led to the fall of Mosisili.

It is therefore not entirely correct to say that Basotho have managed to solve their problem on their own. SADC has played a role and with the Swaziland Summit in mind, we have to hope that no government can once again decide that corruption and murder can be tolerated. It is accordingly a great day for the people of Southern Africa as a whole that we are on the verge of removing the blot of impunity in our country and the region.

I whole heartedly welcome the intensified monitoring and warnings to whatever government that emerges after the elections that accountability and rule of law should prevail. We say never again!!

 

MMS/22/03/2017

 

 

 

Emasculating the constitution and democratic practices: going for elections like no other!

Overview
One of the cardinal principles of the Westminster system of government, which Lesotho follows, is the principle that the Prime Minister must maintain the confidence of the lower house (National Assembly in Lesotho). Confidence does not necessarily mean that the Prime Minister has majority support in Parliament. This is why minority governments have survived in a number of countries. They all survive at the pleasure of the opposition. Once indications of lack of support or a vote of no confidence succeeds the Prime Minister has to fall on his sword. It is that simple. Those who attempt or actually succeed to rule without parliamentary support are not democrats by any stretch of imagination. Lesotho Prime Minister, who was overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament in both the indirect vote of no confidence (rejection of his budget), and a direct rejection through a no confidence vote, should under normal circumstances have quietly left office in favour of the person whom Parliament gave their vote to. Instead, he has devised several stratagems to extend his mandate for at least three months when elections are held. Democrats don’t behave that way! This as will be detailed below is not for nothing. It was meant to extent the government’s term by at least three months; attempt to destroy as much of the physical evidence of crimes committed by the government and its agencies; put in place an intense programme of intimidation ahead of the elections.
In Lesotho, lately we have witnessed a situation where the Prime Minister in spite of several manoeuvres lost the confidence of Parliament but hung on to power. Mosisili failed to have a budget even tabled, since Parliamentarians wanted him to submit himself to a vote of no confidence so that the budget could be presented by a more credible person who has the confidence of the House. After losing the battle of wills between the Speaker, who was used as hatched man, and the rest of the Members of Parliament, Mosisili then went ahead to unconstitutionally advise the King to dissolve parliament contrary to clear stipulations of Section 83 of the Constitution that such a role is that of the Council of State. His was clearly a case of trying to spite Parliament rather than to submit to its decisions.
Mosisili’s spitefulness extended to a situation where he knowingly pushed for dissolution of Parliament without spending authority. Either of the following consequences are now inevitable: a) a shutdown on government services including the holding of elections beginning April 2017 when the new financial year begins; or b) unconstitutionally taping into the Consolidated Fund contrary to both Section 112 and 113 of the constitution. Thus one illegality is necessarily going to lead to another unless Parliament is recalled to consider the budget. But that is unlikely since the combined opposition in Parliament has vowed not to pass any budget as long as Mosisili remains in office.
Overriding of constitutional provisions in Lesotho by Mosisili has had the effect of undermining democracy and consolidating minority rule whose only hope for survival is the continued use of force. The mutuality of interests between the government and the military establishment is based on the principle of mutual protection against the crimes committed over the years, particularly since 2014. As we proceed towards holding elections without spending authority in June 2017, the third such an election within five years, it is important to note that the constitution and democratic principles have been emasculated.
It all began with the attempt to manipulate Parliament and later other institutions like the Council of State which was sidelined on the determination of the direction after the vote of no confidence. Briefly we assess hereunder the issues surrounding Parliament and then focus on the type of elections we are being driven to in the context of illegality and before security sector reforms have been done. What kind of elections are we heading for?
Undermining constitutional democracy
Principles underlying the Westminster system of government as codified in the Lesotho constitution provide a guide for how the formal and informal aspects of the system of government should run. Over and above the systems spelled out in the constitution, there is an aspect of self restraint which ensures that those in positions of power should exercise. In an often quoted statement Madison, one of the founders of the United States Constitution pointed out that:
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In forming a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
Such systems however can only operate well only when those in office remember Madison’s precept above that they must learn to control themselves. All constitutions and all conventions are of no use if individuals in government superimpose themselves on the institutions. Mosisili, partly as a result of staying in power longer than is healthy, as Prime Minister, has begun to perceive Lesotho as his private fiefdom. Thus he has now deluded himself into believing that his word is more important than that of all institutions.
When it dawned on him that some in Parliament could no longer submit to his will, he took all the institutions head-on. In order to cling to power, several strategies were attempted with varying degrees of success. He started with an attempt to undermine Parliament through the Leader of the House and the Speaker who has lately become his hatchet man. After the re-opening of Parliament after it had been unprocedurally adjourned in 2016, the Speaker attempted to turn Parliament into an echo of what the government wanted. She attempted to sideline the Business Committee in the determination of the agenda; she attempted to delay and substitute the motion of no confidence for a budget proposed by a government which no longer hand the numbers in Parliament to rule; more importantly, she attempted to make rulings on Members interjections of point of order without reference to the standing orders. Where they pointed to a specific Standing Order, she would make rulings based on what she called procedure rather than any specific Standing Order. This behaviour transformed the mood in Parliament to one of unruliness and confrontation. Having failed to impose her will on Members of Parliament, the seating was adjourned and ultimately the Business Committee sat and allowed the motion of no confidence to be presented to Parliament and subsequently approved. The attempt to undermine Parliament had collapsed.
As already shown elsewhere, the adoption of the motion of no confidence unleashed a series of attempts to undermine the constitution and the democratic system itself. Let us analyse the issues which will be in the forefront of all political parties as we approach the elections. All these will revolve around the unresolved issues or reform and criminality rather than the usual issues of competing around socio-economic issues. I don’t even foresee any of the political parties focusing on the usual issues around programmes. On the contrary, it will be about security and corruption as part of the unfinished business.
Elections in an a corrupt and unreformed system
In 2014 after the unsuccessful coup d’etat SADC intervened and restored the government which had all but ceased to exist. The plotters were however not brought to justice but were kept in a system which the government had no control over. Rather than to deal with that security dilemma, SADC decided that Lesotho should go for elections. It was clear that this was to be polite, a foolish decision. Those who had attempted to stage a coup would either be legitimised by the elections or they would put the elected government in an untenable situation. As it happened, the elections led to a stalemate with those who largely supported the coup able to cobble up a coalition government made up of seven political parties. This gave them a narrow majority of five seats in Parliament.
The new government rushed to reinstate Kamoli, who had been dismissed as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force; launched a campaign of terror throughout the country which led to the exile of all leaders of political parties represented in Parliament; detention of over sixty soldiers under inhuman conditions on suspicion of a mutiny; exile of scores of soldiers fearing for their lives; and the murder of the Lt. General Mahao, former Commander of the LDF by a specially selected group of soldiers which was rounding up all those identified as enemies of the Kamoli. It is under these circumstances that SADC once again intervened and appointed Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi to investigate among others the circumstances leading to the murder of Mahao. The Report of the Commission was adopted by SADC for implementation by the Lesotho government. The decisions emanating from that Report included the following, which are key, if the system of governance in Lesotho was to be seen as fit for purpose and ready to handle issues about elections:
a) Remove Kamoli as Commander of the LDF;
b) Suspend all suspects in the LDF while their cases are being investigated by an enhanced team from the police;
c) Undertake constitutional, administrative and security reforms.
It is now clear that Kamoli has officially left the LDF though his influence remains. It is not clear what role he continues to play in the army. All we have noticed is that he continues to be guarded by those guards he used to work with. This is at least one of the things where the government can be credited with having made progress and thus lessened the fear of the opposition. Kamoli has always been the public face behind the anarchy which began in 2014 in Lesotho. This is why he has been named in several public documents including the Phumaphi Report and the judgement in the Lesotho Court of Appeal in the case where Hashatsi challenged the legality of the Phumaphi Commission.
The most threatening issue however as we proceed to elections is that all those soldiers who attempted to overthrow the government in 2012; placed bombs in several homes where they thought former Prime Minister, Thabane, and the former Commissioner of Police could be there; murdered former Commander of LDF, Mahao, and others, remain in their posts. But more important, they have been promoted over and over in two years, and continue to hold on to physical evidence in most of those cases. In a normal political system, those who commit crimes cannot hold on to physical evidence.
It has been two years and over in some cases where those in the LDF have continued to avoid answering for their crimes. This extension of Mosisili’s hold on power until after the elections ensures that whatever physical evidence exists is destroyed should the current government lose the elections. Unlike in 2015 when elections were held in Lesotho under close supervision of the SADC Mission in Lesotho and with some modicum of security oversight, the present elections were called unilaterally by the government and prospects of outside supervision or oversight are slim. In 2015, SADC with all its weaknesses was at least able to ensure that the army, which had been involved in an attempted coup, was in a lockdown in the barracks for the duration of the elections.
It also means that as a way of self protection, they will work towards the maintenance of the status quo through intimidation and kidnappings, as we have begun to see even before the date of elections was announced. In a case for habeas corpus by Seleke and another versus Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Commissioner of Police and others where Seleke and Moeti were kidnapped in the middle of the night by known army and police officers and hidden in a rural police station in Semonkong, the High Court decided that their abduction and kidnapping was illegal. We have seen similar cases involving operatives of some opposition political parties in the past few weeks. It could easily be inferred that similar abductions will be undertaken as Election Day approaches. The overall impact of these on the outcome is uncertain, but it could be significant in the rural areas even on Election Day itself.
In a related manner it is important to assess issues about illegality and bad governance which may indicate that the forthcoming elections are likely to be those of a kind not seen in Lesotho before. Recruitment on political basis has intensified while those seen as less pro-government are being weeded out in both the police and other agencies. We were aware that the grant strategy of the government was to talk reforms while at the same time trying to politicise both the public service and the security services. It was a way of hoodwinking SADC and those who are less attentive to developments in Lesotho that we are dealing with a reformist government which was only being obstructed by the opposition. This was far from the truth. Three recent developments are indicative:
a) In a recent case in the Lesotho High Court one Makhalanyane, former aide of the Lesotho’s present Finance Minister who was initially in Foreign Affairs, challenged his dismissal for lack of performance. Makhalanyane in a sworn statement revealed that he was diligent in his work as attested by a list of members of the Democratic Congress (DC) from Mokhotlong district that he was instructed to list so that they could be provided with jobs in the government. He pointed out that all those youths whom he had listed have now secured jobs in the LDF, Police, Correctional Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thus the veneer that there was an open and competitive process in recruiting people in the government was blown apart. We have an intensified campaign by the government to entrench itself in all security institutions.

But more ominous is the recruitment of one Limpho Sekhemane, a thirty six plus years of age, Councillor representing the DC in one of the District Councils in Mokhotlong district into the police service. As we speak Sekhemane is under training at Police Training College while he is still a political party representative in the Council. If this is not politicising the police, then I don’t know what it is!

As this post was being finalised, Monyane Moleleki, leader of Alliance of Democrats and former Minister of Police, confessed on PC FM radio this morning (15/03/2017) that when he was Minister, a quota was agreed amongst the coalition government on how the 250 positions in the police would be shared amongst their supporters. He apologised but clearly confirmed what we all knew. Jobs in the army, police and correctional services were prioritised for filling by political hacks that are now going to be used in the forthcoming elections.
These are the people who are likely going to be deployed to rough up people ahead of the elections.
This is not all, we have also witnessed the mass sacking of public servants in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the concurrent recruitment of those linked to the political parties in the coalition government. The Public Service Commission, which at the formal level is supposed to hire staff for Ministries has either been politicised also or sidelined.
b) Let us not forget that recently one Colonel Lekhooa, recent rank unknown because of multiple promotions for those suspected of committing crimes, has recently been deployed as Director General of the National Security Service, another beneficiary of recent recruitments of politically aligned people. This is another significant move which will allow and ensure that this spy agency becomes a tool of the current minority government. Lekhooa has multiple cases himself to answer and will accordingly work towards nullifying whatever evidence that could link him to those. The government which protects him and his colleagues from going to court will obviously be the one he would rather serve rather than those he has worked against from 2014.

c) Finally, we have to be aware that the matter which triggered the fall of Mosisili was the dispute about the corrupt deal between the Lesotho government and BIDVEST Bank. It is a deal whereby the government awarded a contract to BIDVEST without a tender process to supply it with vehicles and the management system. The government cancelled a process to award the contract to another company which had been selected by the tender panel and chose BIDVEST which had not even tendered for such work. The faction of the DC which was opposed to that decision for one reason or another broke away and joined the opposition. There is a lot of unease by both the government and BIDVEST on the consequences of any election outcome which may investigate and reverse the deal. Speculation is rife that those who have corrupted and those who have been corrupted may wish to subvert the elections in order to escape the consequences. It is clear therefore that the repercussions of this deal which costs the government over R60 million a month will go beyond Lesotho’s borders. It is the first time in Lesotho history that a corrupt deal brought the government down. This is without doubt one of the major issues of contestation in the coming elections. Who support corruption and who support clean government is the question?
The picture above indicates that the security services at the disposal of Mosisili have been strengthened are arrayed against the opposition in the elections we are about to go into. It is both a survival issue for Mosisili and also the people whom he has been protecting over the past two years. The government has something to protect and the suspects probably know so much that it is no longer clear who is the puppet, and who is the puppeteer. Elections are therefore a matter of life and death for both groups.
Conclusion
Lesotho is in a self induced constitutional crisis and alone. There are no indications that SADC or anyone else is likely to come for the rescue. For SADC, this is probably an easy escape route after bungling its intervention in 2014 where the Facilitator seemed to believe that he could coax coup plotters out of their crimes while at the same time treating the victims as mere irritants. Elections in insecurity were bound to produce the results we have today which brought up the Phumaphi Commission which came up with good recommendations only for those to be sabotaged by lack of will and credible enforcement mechanisms by SADC. Mosisili and his lieutenants saw through the body’s bluff, and continued to commit more crimes, leading to the present crisis.
With the government fearful of handing over power, and the security services enmeshed in politically induced crimes, we know that only the brave will continue to campaign in rural constituencies. But more important, June is the height of Lesotho’s winter, with snow normally expected. Darkness also comes early meaning counting will be done under cold and dark conditions. This is a good environment for those who want to undermine the elections. We hope all will survive those challenging conditions.
Basotho and the friends of Lesotho are warned!

MMS/15/03/2017

Mosisili’s scramble to retain power:Lesotho’s constitutional crisis

Overview
Recent Lesotho political history has been littered with instability, coup d’état and several other unconstitutional changes of government. For those outside Lesotho, the question has always been why so much happens in this small impoverished country unlike in the rest of the Southern African region? I have been trying to answer that question in the twelve months since the launch of lesothoanalysis.wordpress.com. At the heart of the problem in Lesotho has always been governments which are not focused on answering the needs of the people, but answer to the needs of a small clique of politicians allied or subservient to the military. It has been a case where politicians plot, murder and steal public resources without fear of consequences as a result of their alliance with some elements of the military.
The use of force against political opponents has always been the number one political strategy for those who want to cling to power. Use and connivance with rogue elements within the military have necessarily been key to their mutual survival. The clearest example is where military command and politicians connived and executed a plan to kill Lt. General Mahao; kill Sub-Inspector Ramahloko; attempt to kill several guards of the former Prime Minister; and detain tenths of soldiers for up to two years. Refusal to implement SADC decisions on suspending those soldiers suspected of committing these crimes and others is a result of this mutuality of interests in crime by government and the military. One cannot survive without the other. Both live in a bubble of impunity. If SADC was a body which acted on principle and knowledge rather than collegiality, it would have seen through that very early when the Phumaphi Commission was set up. Reluctance to implement decisions would have been understood clearly that those who commission crimes cannot be easily separated from those who commit them.
Recent developments in Lesotho have now taken a turn where the populace have rejected impunity by those who rule them. Indeed in their numbers, they have begun to reject those in government who stood with criminals and wish to protect them under a General Amnesty for crimes committed from 2007. The only qualification for such an amnesty being granted was being a soldier, a policeman, member of the correctional services or any individual who committed crimes on his frolic with the intention of protecting the government. In their numbers, the people have shown through rallies and also in their influence to their Members of Parliament to get rid of the present government. That was done through a vote of no confidence in parliament on 01/03/2017. Having been defeated resoundingly Mosisili has been scrambling since then to survive his rejection by Parliament. Unlike in all other West Minster systems of government where losing a vote of no confidence automatically leads to the resignation of the Prime Minister, Mosisili scrambled to hang on to power. Dissolving Parliament was only one of the ways of working towards extending his hold on power for up to three months; and more critically to go to elections before security reforms so that the criminal element in the security forces can be unleashed on the people before, during and after the elections.
Vote of no confidence and drift to constitutional crisis
A week or so before Parliament was re-opened (24/02/2017) after a long break, three newly formed political parties informed the Speaker of the National Assembly that that they request to have their members cross the floor when the Parliament re-opened. The biggest of those crossing the floor was the Alliance of Democrats (AD) led by Mosisili’s former deputy in the Democratic Congress (DC), Monyane Moleleki. On opening day of Parliament, fourteen members of Parliament moved from the DC to AD in the opposition benches. One more Member of Parliament left one of Mosisili’s coalition partners to move to the cross bench, while two others left the opposition side to the cross bench. Adding to Mosisili’s dilemma was the fact that nine Members of Parliament who had gone there on a party list and thus could not cross the floor, had already signed an agreement with the opposition to vote Mosisili out of office. The combined numbers remaining with Mosisili after the floor crossing was 37 in the 120 member Parliament. However on the date of the motion the government side relented and provided a meek resistance. The decision did not end up going beyond the voice stage without any need to divide on a one by one basis. It was still a humiliating defeat which Mosisili avoided by absenting himself from Parliament on that critical day. Humiliating or not Mosisili did not stand still. He began to prepare how to extend his time in office one way or another.
First, he had over the past weeks been advocating a bizarre position that he would not resign if he lost a no confidence vote. He argued that he would advice the King to dissolve Parliament and have the country go to elections contrary to clear and unambiguous provisions of the constitution that he should resign or make a recommendation to the King to dissolve Parliament. The advice, as I spelled out in my earlier post, is the responsibility of the Council of State. This stance as will be shown later was a drift to a constitutional coup leading to a constitutional crisis. It’s apparent that where a constitution allocates certain responsibilities to one person or body, such activity cannot be undertaken by another willy-nilly. This is so with this matter.
Second, Mosisili sought and got legal opinion from the Attorney General which sought for all intents and purposes to rehash Mosisili’s understanding of the constitution that his word is final with the King and the Council of State in no position to say anything. It was clear for everyone to see that the Attorney General’s view was not legal in any sense, but was a mere justification for staging a constitutional coup. It was selective and hardly dealt with the constitution as an organic document which has to be read in its totality rather than only the interesting sections which coincide with the likings of Mosisili.
Third, as the plot thickened, the deployment of police and army units around Maseru intensified. Indeed, Members of Parliament became so alarmed about the harassment they went through that they raised this matter with the Speaker. No satisfactory response came from her, but this was an early indicator that intimidation was on the cards should the need arise. This was not all. The shrill statements by the police spokesman in the past few weeks warning the public for one reason or another was significant. What all this indicates is that Mosisili’s government has been gearing for a showdown with the opposition. Winning in Parliament was only the beginning of the struggle. He was prepared to use any means to defy those who thought that his diminished status and support was enough to shove him out of power. He was prepared to play it dirty and outside the law with the support of the army and police.
Mosisili’s constitutional coup
Mosisili had vowed in several of his rallies throughout the country that he would not resign. As soon as he was booted out by Parliament, he went to the King to advice that it be dissolved. It is clear from all sources that the King attempted to resist the dissolution in view of the reading of the constitution. Mosisili persisted and it seems he prevailed. In the end, the Council of State did not meet in spite of the fact that more than seven of its members had apparently sought a meeting to deliberate on that matter. In a widely available letter written by the King’s Senior Private Secretary, Monehela Posholi there are no constitutional reasons offered for not holding a meeting of the Council of State in terms of Section 95(8) of the Constitution. The Section spells out that if one member plus seven others request the meeting such a meeting will hold. Posholi merely offers platitudes and not the law. He writes that:
His Majesty decided, in the interest of national unity and to avoid possible constitutional crises, to accede to the advice of the Rt. Hon. The Prime Minister for the dissolution of Parliament in preparation for the holding of general elections.
On further reflection His Majesty deemed it not prudent to convene a meeting of the Council of State as you had requested.
We sincerely hope that you will understand and appreciate the predicament that His Majesty faced.
What one deciphers from the above is that the Council of State which is the legal authority for advising His Majesty was sidelined for expediency and sentiments rather than for any legal reasons. Again the purported reasons of preserving national unity and avoiding possible constitutional crisis, have achieved the opposite. The person who had no authority to advice the King did and all that was to was achieve a three months extension of Mosisili’s stay in power. That Posholi uses words like “accede” and “predicament”is suggestive that this was Mosisili’s diktat rather than a constitutional action by the King.
More importantly, the decision was essentially self-defeating. Section 113 of the constitution spells out the role of Parliament in the appropriation and authorisation to spend money. If Parliament had begun the process of budgeting in terms of Section 112 but that process ws not complete, the Minister of Finance is authorised to use funds not yet approved for the first quarter. There are limits to this, but it is possible. In a case however, where Parliament had refused to consider the budged as is the case now, Lesotho is facing a complete shutdown from 01/04/2017. There is no possibility of accessing money from the consolidated fund. How then can elections be held without money?
What we have in Lesotho now is a full blown constitutional crisis without solution since Parliament has been dissolved before budgetary allocation. Government accounting under normal circumstances would be by way of issuing a warrant tor Ministries. But under these circumstances, anybody who issues such a warrant or uses any money from the consolidated fund would be making an appointment with prison. It is a deadlock and a constitutional crisis. As long as we pretend that we are operating constitutionally, we now know that elections cannot be held, nor can there be any government spending in April 2017. Mosisili has thus launched the country in its worst constitutional crisis. Let those in the government, particularly Chief Accounting Officers note that they have been placed in a situation where they have either to watch from the sidelines when the shutdown begins or prepare to go to jail!

Conclusion
Lesotho has gone through tumult and has often been rescued by SADC. At times SADC’s actions have been puzzling and not helpful. At other times it has mistaken the trees for the forest. In many years of its intervention, it has tended to be on Mosisili’s side. We have observed as it stood by now when Mosisili drives Lesotho to the ground. For once SADC has not attempted to get involved as Basotho tackle Mosisili. If he succeeds to hold elections rather than surrender power after losing a vote of no confidence, we must all be aware that the elections before security reforms will not be free and fair. Mosisili will once again go to power with tacit SADC support.
Mosisili’s constitutional coup has now launched us in unchartered waters. The only victims of this coup will be those who have not made hay while the sun was shining. Mosisili and his Ministers will dip into their reserves while the rest of the people suffer.

MMS/08/03/2017

A vote of no confidence and Mosisili’s hint of a coup

Bird’s eye view of Lesotho politics
A week ago, three leaders of the political parties represented in parliament, returned from exile and were joined by the leader of the Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader and thousands of supporters in Maseru. This was only the beginning of the political drama that awaits the country in the next few weeks. All four leaders, Motsoahae Thabane (ABC), Thesele ‘Maseribane (BNP), Keketso Rant’so (RCL) and Monyane Moleleki (AD), were unanimous in calling for the ouster of Pakalitha Mosisili from the premiership of Lesotho when Parliament resumes. For understandable reasons, they cajoled their supporters to stand with them in the gigantic struggle they were about to engage in when Parliament reopens 24/02/2017. They all acknowledged that Mosisili is a hard nut to crack but that he is at his most vulnerable in his sixteenth years as Lesotho Prime Minister.
Mosisili on the other hand was also rallying his supporters in the Leribe district to be part of the resistance against any attempt to oust him. In contrasting styles, both Mosisili and the opposition were actively mobilising against each other. While the opposition was talking about the vote of no confidence they would lodge with Parliament, Mosisili was in a threatening mood, arguing that he would not hand over power to anybody. On the contrary, he would opt for an election. He went further to say that nobody can push him out of office. The issue which therefore is central to the struggle in the coming days is whether there will be a constitutional resolution or whether a coup is in the making.
Since the arrival of the opposition political leaders from exile and their massive welcome rally on 12/02/2017 and Mosisili’s speech in Mphosong, I have seen little significance being put on the possibility or likelihood of a coup being attempted as a direct result of the two contrasting visions of the future of constitutional government in Lesotho. On the contrary, there is premature euphoria on the part of the opposition parties focusing on counting numbers of the Members of Parliament on their side as opposed to the declining fortunes of the government side. This is premature celebration syndrome! On the government side, we have seen increasing threats that members of Parliament will lose their benefits and also that their side will resist the pressure to hand over power. Signs of a fight to the end are plentiful for those who want to see them. Mosisili is most likely going to dig in his hills in whatever eventuality. This is going to be a long haul rather than a sprint!
Constituting a government in government
In Lesotho, like in most parliamentary systems of government, the government is formed by the party or combination of parties which make the majority of members of parliament after an election. This is governed by Section 86 of the Constitution of Lesotho. It is ipso facto expected that the same situation should prevail throughout the life of Parliament. Exceptions however exist whereby a minority government can rule with the concurrence of the majority in parliament. That is normally a very weak government which can only undertake routine matters rather than major decisions. It cannot take place in Lesotho’s divided society where there is no consensus even on issues like rule of law.
When Mosisili in 2015 managed to cobble a seven party coalition government, his numbers were sixty five (65) in a one twenty (120) seat parliament. When Moleleki broke away from Mosisili’s party with fourteen constituency based members of Parliament, who are allowed to cross the floor in terms of Lesotho’s Constitution, Mosisili’s government has been fatally injured. Indeed in a letter dated 16/02/2017 Mokhele Moletsane, AD Secretary General writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly, says as much that following the formation of a new political party its members of Parliament wish to rise in their seats “….in the National Assembly and crossing the floor to join the opposition benches on Friday 24th February 2017.” We are aware that there are at least ten other members of Parliament who cannot officially cross the flow in terms of Lesotho’s constitution, but will most likely vote with the opposition. This fact has been acknowledged by Mosisili in one of his recent speeches. The Speaker, who is a Member of Parliament from the ruling coalition, is stuck with them even if the DC were to complain, because she made a decision earlier in 2016 to reject the request by BNP to have two of its dissident members of Parliament replaced. There can’t be one rule against BNP and another for DC.
There are however two other former ABC Members of Parliament who are forming a new political party who will certainly vote with the government. They have not yet been registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as political parties which can contest elections. A split in the LCD whereby Selibe Mochoboroane, formerly its Secretary General has formed his party makes the situation more perilous for the government. Mochoboroane claims that he has the support of four other Members from LCD, who also cannot cross the floor for similar reasons to those from the DC. He has indicated, that he will move to the cross bench when the National Assembly resumes. If he were to abandon the government, Mosisili’s numbers would be more perilous. Like the two deserters from ABC, Mochoboroane’s political party has not yet been registered by the IEC as eligible to contest elections. None of these improves Mosisili’s chances of survival in Parliament.
What then can Mosisili do to survive on 24/02/2017 when Parliament resumes? Is he able to pull out any unexpected strategy against these odds? Hints of his strategy were spelled out clearly in Mphosong, in the Leribe district Saturday 11/02/2017. In a similar manner Mosisili’s political storm trooper, Ramat’sella in an unbelievable vitriol, announced in a radio station which seems to have no ethical limits, that unleashing of violence is in the cards within weeks. Judging from previous statements by the same, we have seen that he normally speaks publicly what others are whispering about. He called for the killing of the editor of Lesotho Times, a local newspaper, a few months ago, and true to his words, the editor was ambushed and shot. He got serious injuries but did not die.
The makings of a coup (the world according to Mosisili)
Explaining his dilemma/predicament in Parliament when it resumes next Friday, Mosisili concedes that he has lost support in the National Assembly, but resorts to blaster and threats to his political foes. But significantly he spent time trying to assure them that he was not going to hand over power to anybody if he loses the vote of no confidence in Parliament. He outlines that there are three options open to him. He argues:
 Prime Minister can resign and hand over power to the person who has been indicated in the motion of no confidence to have the support of the majority of members of Parliament. This is how the Lesotho Constitution spells this out. He quickly dismisses this option and vows that he would never hand over power to anybody;
 Prime Minister can go to His Majesty to request the dissolution of Parliament. He points out that this is the option he likes. In his own words in Sesotho he argues “…..’Me leo lekhalo ke leo ke le ratang haholo, le nepahetse. ……..” He however goes further to argue that when Prime Minister goes to see the King to dissolve Parliament, he goes alone and there is no role for the Council of State. As will be pointed out in the next section, this cannot be close to the truth. But that is not even the important issue. The next part of his speech provides a clear indication of the direction he wishes to take in the event of the vote of no confidence in Parliament succeeding.
 He goes further to outline the third option which he quickly dismisses since he will not follow if the vote of no confidence succeeds. This option is the one where after the vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister neither resigns no recommends to the King the dissolution of Parliament. Three days after the successful motion in parliament, under those circumstances, the matter now is in the hands of the King to seek the advice of the Council of State. He goes further to argue that the only thing which the Council of State can advise the King on is the dissolution of Parliament and nothing else. Moreover, he argues, the King cannot push Prime Minister from office even with the Council of State. There is no Section in the Constitution which allows the King to remove the Prime Minister from office. Meaning that the Council of State can only advise the King to dissolve Parliament. (…’nete e salang ke hore Motlotlehi a keke a sutumetsa Tona Kholo hore a tsoe ka ofising le ka lona lekhotla la naha. Ha hona temana ka hara molao oa motheo ka mono e reng Motlotlehi a ka leleka Tona Kholo. Ha e eo. Eleng hore ntho eo lekhotla leo la naha le ka eletsang Motlotlehi ho e etsa ke hona ho qhala Paramente ho uoe likhethong…..) What therefore does this mean if the constitution says otherwise?
Constitutional provisions versus Mosisili’s world
Mosisili lives in an impunity bubble which makes him ignore the law when it does not suit his desires to continue in office even when circumstances no longer permit. Indeed, he was in a trance for two and half years when he was outmanoeuvred out of power in 2012. He however, did not accept that situation and colluded with the military to destabilise that regime until it collapsed and he was able to cobble a coalition of seven political parties in 2015 to get back to power. It is thus understandable if he now vows to refuse to hand over power to anybody. But short of staging a coup, as I will argue, the law does not back his stance.
The Westminster form of government is guided by laws, conventions and practices. It is not a question of whether one wants to leave office, but what is provided in the law. Lesotho law which directly deals with the issues raised by Mosisili is found largely in Sections 83 and 87. The law provides that the King may at any time prorogue or dissolve Parliament on the advice of the Prime Minister. Section 83(4) (a) spells out the conditions:
(a) If the Prime Minister recommends a dissolution and the King considers that the Government of Lesotho can be carried on without a dissolution and that a dissolution would not be in the interests of Lesotho, he may, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, refuse to dissolve Parliament;
The above Section of the Constitution makes it clear that Mosisili’s bubble is a false one. The King is not bound to accept Mosisili’s diktat on this matter. If the King considers that the government can be reconstituted with or without Mosisili he is constitutionally obliged to summon the Council of State to consider the matter. Once the Council of State has proffered an advice in writing, in terms of Section 95(7), it is mandatory for any person or body. Saying anything contrary to that is mischievous to say the least. The only other way of understanding that is that Mosisili is giving notice of his intention to defy the law, should he lose the vote of no confidence.

More significantly, Mosisili’s claim that there is no section in the law that authorises the King to remove the Prime Minister is also false. He actually starts off by using the term “push him out of office”. (Motlotlehi a ke ke a sutumetsa Tona Kholo hore a tsoe ka ofising, le ka lekhotla la naha) Section 87(5) which refutes this delusion is quoted in extenso hereunder:
The King may, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, remove the Prime Minister from office-
(a) If a resolution of no confidence in the Government of Lesotho is passed by the National Assembly and the Prime Minister does not within three days thereafter, either resign from his office or advise a dissolution of Parliament;
Reading both Section 83 and 87 of the Constitution, it is clear that Mosisili is bound to obey the King after a successful vote of no confidence and the advice of the Council of State. Anything else is outside the law. The only suggestion he may be making is that he is prepared to act unconstitutionally by force. There is precedence for these types of actions in recent Lesotho politics. In August 2014, Kamoli abetted by Mosisili and his allies refused to accede to his removal as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force. The consequences of that are well known. It is that action which launched Lesotho into the ongoing security crisis. Also in 2014, Mochoboroane, then Minister of Communications, refused a lawful dismissal even after the official government gazette was published. All these were accomplished by the unlawful alliance of some of those in the Lesotho Defence Force. Mochoboroane was untouchable.
These are the early signs of a plan to resist lawful authority by relying on both the military and the political storm troopers at Mosisili’s disposal. It can however be asked whether an election is not a legitimate way to resolve the current crisis? Is anybody scared of going to elections now or in the immediate future? Elections as we all know can resolve political impasses but they are not a solution to a security crisis. Lesotho went into the 2015 elections within a security vacuum and that did not resolve anything. On the contrary the elections propelled the country into an even worse situation. Security sector reforms clearly need to precede elections. In the next section, I indicate why Mosisili wants elections now rather than at the end of the term of this Parliament.
Why Mosisili wants elections now?
In a strange way, Mosisili whose party has been declining and has just split in two insist on holding elections. The real issue for him is not about elections and his prospects after such elections. It is largely three things which force him to try to force an election. First of all, he wants elections now when he is still in control of the unreformed state apparatus. It’s not only about the use of state resources for campaigning, though that is important too. He wants to have elections before any security sector reforms are undertaken. He is not oblivious to the fact that free and fair elections will not improve his situation. On the contrary, he wants to ensure that his iron grip on the military becomes his main electoral strategy. Those of his allies in the military, who were largely junior officers following him and Kamoli, have now been promoted over and over within one year and are now in charge of all sectors of the military. The detained and exiled soldiers who were largely from the higher echelons of the army, would now find that their influence is no more. But Mosisili has gone further to deploy another of his allies in the army to head the National Intelligence Service, thus blurring the operations of the military and civilian intelligence services.
The importance of this control of the politicised security services cannot be underestimated. The credibility of the 2015 elections lay largely on the decision by the then government of the day, supported by SADC, to ensure that the army was confined to the barracks on elections day. As we know, Mosisili and his allies cried foul for such confinement. The reason was obvious, they wanted to use the military to intimidate and rig the elections. The unleashing of the state organised or orchestrated violence would most certainly lead to an election which would not reflect the view of the Basotho people. In recent times, we have seen an election where such state and state supported violence led to the victory of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Such elections would neither be free nor fair. They would not be credible. This is why Mosisili wants elections now rather than later. This is also the reason why those who want free, fair and credible elections should not fall for his strategy of calling elections now.
The second main reason why Mosisili wants to have elections now is to avoid or postpone the implementation of the SADC decisions arising from the Phumaphi Commission. The key issue in the Report was to remove Kamoli from office. The next priority was to have those of his allies in the military who have murdered Lt. General Mahao, Sub Inspector Ramahloko and several others; and those suspected of High Treason; bombing of some homes; and other serious crimes be suspended while investigations are completed in those crimes. The investigations, as observers have pointed out, are unlikely to end with the fingering of only foot soldiers, but are likely going to also point to those who conspired, abetted those crimes and those who hampered investigations. Arresting the puppet without also arresting the puppeteer would not have solved the questions of impunity amongst our political class in Lesotho. This is Mosisili’s worst fear!
Finally, Mosisili is very anxious to complete the deployment of his allies and family in all strategic areas of the government so that he could rule from the grave, as the saying goes, when he is no longer in office. If there were elections in Lesotho, he would have an additional three months to deploy his allies and his relatives in strategic areas. If he loses power in an election, the new government would be disrupted for a long time before it is able to either remove the unworthy or find a ways of dealing with them. There is a method to what seems to be irrational actions by Mosisili.
Could it also be that Mosisili would not want to hand over power to either Thabane or Moleleki? Can his actions be attributed to the politics of hate? Moleleki in an interview with one local newspaper alluded to the hatred which drives Mosisili. It could therefore also be possible that over and above the political and security fears he has, he is also fighting for the sake of spiting his enemies.
Conclusion
Mosisili’s vehement denial that the King does not have an option but to dissolve Parliament if he advises him so has been shown to be false. The King can refuse to dissolve Parliament if such a move is not in the national interest. With the support of the Council of State, a new government can be formed at least four days after a vote of no confidence. In Germany that can be done within forty eight hours. Again, Mosisili’s claim that the King cannot “push him” out of office is ridiculous. Kings don’t push people out of office; on the contrary they can remove them. Section 87 of the Constitution spells that out clearly. It is not a personal struggle between the King trekking Mosisili out of office, it is the question of letting the law run its course if the King removes him. His denial of the existence of the law to that effect, gives a clear indication that he wants to defy any such order. Staying in power outside the law can only succeed if he uses State institutions to hold on to power by force. Thus the suggestion of a coup under planning is not farfetched.
It is for the above observations that Basotho and the friends of Lesotho should be on the lookout. Coups in Africa in the 21st century are possible but cannot be sustained. Be warned!

MMS/20/02/2017

Panic and desperation as Mosisili’s coalition government implodes

  • When police in an unstable regime, make statement after statement warning the citizens not to congregate or do one thing or another, experience has taught us that such a regime is on notice. It is always a sign of panic and desperation by the declining order or one which is imploding. Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the police issuing warnings to people not to go to the airport to welcome one of the political leaders; we have also witnessed, a futile attempt to stop thousands of people at the Maseru border to welcome some of the exiles who returned to Lesotho a week ago; we are now hearing warnings in radio stations that the people should not attempt to go to the Maseru border to welcome the three political leaders who are also returning to Lesotho from exile. These are the signs of a collapsing regime. It relies more on fear than acceptance. The problem for the Mosisili regime is that it no longer has the necessary support in parliament and outside to rule legitimately. This is likely to be demonstrated by the crowds which will attend the welcome rally on 12/02/2017 of the three political leaders who have been in exile for close to two years. History is likely to be made in front of our eyes. This is so because people no longer fear the regime.
    When Mosisili cobbled together a coalition government made up of seven political parties in Lesotho after the 2015 snap elections, it was obvious to all that the coalition would not endure. It was made up of political parties which largely had no following except Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) which as will be shown below had some following. But even that, the LCD was a declining political force which could not do without leaning heavily on the military. Those on Mosisili’s side however argued that the coalition would be stable and could endure until 2020 when the next elections are expected. The main reason they put up was that that motley of small insignificant political parties were breakaways of the Congress parties which allegedly shared a common ideology even if they had set themselves up as separate political entities.
    Understandably the minor parties were not really there for anything except to ensure that they remain in government since on their own they could not envisage being in government. This arrangement ensured that the least popular parties in terms of the results of the 2015 elections were in government with their single seat allowing them to be ministers. In some instances, some of those were not able to get even 2000 votes countrywide while the quota for one seat was 4600 in the 2015 elections. It was thus understood that those small parties could not influence the stability or otherwise of the coalition. It was not in their interests to attempt anything that could result in them losing their ministerial pecks. Therefore as long as the DC and the LCD agreed on the way forward, the chances of the coalition falling apart were remote.
    It was however also possible to envisage the split between the two primary coalition partners in view of the arrangements for sharing of power which tended to favour the smaller LCD at the expense of the DC. From the very beginning, there were murmurs that the deputy leader of the DC was marginalised by placing several leaders of the coalition parties which had virtually no following above him in the pegging order of government protocol. This is why when the fight the soul of the DC was being contested, one of Mosisili’s ministers was able to publicly say that the deputy leader of the DC was could not become acting Prime Minister if Mosisili resigned. On the contrary, she argued, that the Leader of LCD would assume the leadership. It was also clear from the beginning that the Prime Minister would only be a ceremonial figure with Metsing, the LCD leader and Kamoli of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) as the de facto leaders in a civilian lead government where real power resided in the military. The mass detention of army officers; their torture; exile of the leaders of the political parties represented in parliament and some army officers confirmed to all that the new order would be civilian in name only.
    As a result of the limited support of the government, there were two possible scenarios. First was the cultivation of consensus politics as a way of ensuring that the government ruled by consent. The second scenario was to militarise the regime in order to inculcate fear amongst the people. This seems to have been the preferred route. The cold-blooded murder of Lt. General Mahao, former Commander of the LDF, was a way of demonstrating the brutality that the regime was prepared to go in to ensure its hold on power.
    The table below shows the numerical weakness in parliament of the political parties which formed the coalition government of 2015.

Political party Number of seats in parliament
Democratic Congress 47
Lesotho Congress for Democracy 12
Popular Front for Democracy 2
National Independence Party 1
Marematlou Freedom Party 1
Basutoland Congress Party 1
Lesotho Congress for Democracy 1
Total 65
Out of 120 seats, the coalition had 65 seats in parliament. The defection of only five members of parliament would thus bring down the coalition. More importantly the national and international outcry following the murder of Lt. General Mahao and the detention of over sixty soldiers ensured that the regime was unable to build national consensus. As a result of some of the above, two leading political parties in the coalition began to crack and finally split, leaving Mosisili’s coalition severely wounded and with insufficient numbers in parliament to rule. Instead of submitting to the reality in parliament, Mosisili and his partners began to devise strategies for avoiding the sitting of parliament where he faced a threat of vote of no confidence.
Towards the end of 2016 the coalition was thus severely rocked by the defection of Monyane Moleleki from the DC to the opposition side when he formed his party, Alliance of Democrats (AD) which claims to command the support of up to 24 members of parliament. Fourteen such MPs are those who won constituencies seats and are thus able to cross the flow when parliament reopens. The others are more likely to remain formally as members of DC but will vote with their party of choice when so required in parliament. This has brought about a lot of panic and desperation to those in power in Lesotho. Granted, the government side may rely on about four votes from disgruntled members of parliament from both the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Basotho National Party (BNP). The breakup of the LCD, with its Secretary General forming a new party does not change the make-up of parliament since the new party is expected to support the government in parliament. Mochoboroane, its leader, has a feud with the LCD leader, but otherwise supports the present regime.
The exodus through resignation of no less than eight ministers from the government was debilitating for Mosisili. The fact that three months down the line, those have not been replaced is indicative of the helplessness of the situation. Looking at the table above, it is clear that an attempt to fill those vacancies would leave the coalition in an even more perilous position where in a parliament with about 43 people in the government benches, 35 would be ministers. But of the remaining eight ministers, two were dismissed before the others resigned. A government where there is more than three times the number of ministers than backbenchers would be a very strange one. How would such government be able to operate? Who would be available for parliamentary committees? The long and short is that Mosisili’s government is so paralysed that it is unable to move any legislation in parliament. It for the same reason that the Minister of Finance, has now appropriated over half a billion Maloti through cabinet, rather than parliament. This desperate move will be found to be outside the law. In our law only parliament has the power of appropriation.
It is in this context that we have seen attempts to prolong a government which has lost not only its numerical majority in parliament, but also credibility. In an attempt to hold on to power, a number of desperate means have been attempted. These include intimidation; using procedural technicalities to ensure that parliament does not meet; and attempts to reduce the numbers of opposition members in parliament.
As the implosion of the regime intensifies, it has increasingly resorted to using force to ensure compliance. We have cases where police have been used to harass and arrest political activists for nothing. The strategy seems to be to arrest people on a hoof and then fail to charge them. In one such case, the person (Thuso Litjobo of DC) was arrested and shipped to some rural police station only to find that there was no case when it reached court. In another case police arrested a person (Machesetsa Mofomobe of BNP) only to find out later that the immediate superior of the arresting officer, claimed he had no clue about the arrest and could not locate the officer who had arrested the Machesetsa. Despite the High Court Order that Machesetsa be brought to court the following day, the police did not charge him. This is a case where the motive was more about harassment than about enforcing the law. They arrest to investigate and not to investigate before arresting a person.
The intensification of repression through the police and military has become more pronounced. The main organ being used now is the joint police and army unit which liberally disperses rallies and demonstrations by opposition members. It is the same unit that has been harassing people and arresting them without any identification that they are policemen. The interventionist role that the police have been used to play lately is worrying. The police deny permissions to protest and often use all measures to prevent such demonstrations.
Over and above the repression, at the political level, the main thrust of the government has been geared to keep the numbers of opposition members in parliament small through threats. For over a year three opposition leaders represented in parliament have been living in exile in South Africa. They were later joined by a few other members of parliament. In a new development most of the civilian exiles have now returned to the country and were met by thousands of people at the Maseru border post. The imminent return of the three leaders of the opposition to the country poses a major challenge to the strategy of keeping the numbers of opposition members down. That means that the opposition will now have an overwhelming number in parliament while the government numbers will have decreased considerably.
The government side has also been desperately trying to expel about thirteen members of parliament from parliament ostensibly on the ground that that they missed one third of the sittings of parliament in 2015. The funny thing here is that the Speaker has abrogated to herself the power to declare vacancies of alleged transgressions which took place in 2015. Why now? Since this action has been challenged and heard in the High Court, it is wise to refrain from discussing the merits of this until a ruling has been made. But the interesting thing during the hearing of this case is that the government’s South African lawyer’s pleaded that the court makes a ruling before the opening of parliament. The main issue here is a way of cutting down the numbers of members of parliament who are likely to vote for a motion of no confidence when parliament is reopened.
The desperation to survive the vote of no confidence is driving the government into all sorts of actions which include appropriating funds instead of submitting those to parliament. It is close to the end whatever strategies the government devises. In a democracy politicians must submit to the majority.

Resisting Mosisili’s crackdown:when people have overcome fear

Overview
Some of the major characteristics of emerging or dying dictatorships are the instilling of fear amongst the populace. This fear can come overtly or covertly, but the consequences are the same. Often the combination of the two is more common. For fear to be effective it tends to be preceded by either a demonstration effect or by deployment of both heavily armed police and military personnel amongst the people. While the former is more dramatic in that people can be beaten up or killed for showing dissent, the latter is creeping and is accompanied by public statements by the organs of the state, that those who refuse to submit to the emerging order will be crushed. In all above cases, the intention is to bring about submission to the dictatorship. Often the wishes of the dictatorship prevail until people can no longer bear the oppression.
The reasons for trying to silence the populace are many, but the key one tends to be the slide in popularity of either the new regime or the old one. The problem however is that crackdown results in fear and not love and support. This is always the achilles heel of all fragile regimes. They fail to distinguish fear for support. As it totters to collapse, the Mosisili regime has from the beginning utilised all the above. For some time, people were fearful and only appealing for international intervention, but of late, resistance has been the order of the day. Indeed you hear less and less reliance on the SADC action, though the decision of SADC based on the Phumaphi Commission has provided the rallying point.
Waiting for International Community
After the narrow victory in the 2015 elections which allowed Mosisili to cobble together a coalition government of seven political parties, the crackdown began almost immediately. The coldblooded murder of Lt. Gen. Mahao; the detention and torture of over sixty soldiers; the exile of other soldiers; and the exile of all leaders of opposition political parties represented in parliament provided the demonstration effect to quieten the populace. This was followed by strident statements at governmental level and some of the political parties allied to the government to the effect that the killers and torturers would not be made accountable since they were involved in an approved operation. Threatening statements from the regime were a common feature. These combined with the regime’s demonstrated effect that killing and torturing are not excluded from the actions it can take, for some time brought about fear to some in the public. It was not unusual in the early days of the Mosisili regime to hear people saying they are opposed to the regime but are afraid. “re ea it’sabela” in Sesotho.
These however did not quieten the people since SADC had established a Commission of inquiry headed by Justice Phumaphi from Botswana investigating the circumstances leading to the murder of Lt. Gen. Mahao, former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force. Evidence heard by the Commission exposed the grand plan to impose a civilian led military regime in Lesotho. It was shown how the Military Command actively perpetrated and protected crimes committed by the army including attempting to assassinate the then Prime Minister by exploding bombs where they thought he was; attempting to take over the government; and murdering several civilians throughout the country. But more importantly, the inquiry heard how the Commander placed the Prime Minister’s military guards as spies who would inform him about the movements of the Prime Minister and whom he has and plan to meet. They were thus not body guards but spies who would be useful during the intended takeover of the government.
The Commission identified the people in the military who committed all those crimes and have to be subjected to court processes. On completion of its work the Commission’s report became the rallying point for all the opposition political parties and civil society organisations. In particular the decision that Lt. Gen. Kamoli who had been reinstated as Commander of the army when the new government came to office in 2015, be removed as Commander, and that the soldiers suspected to have committed serious crimes should be suspended pending investigations of their alleged transgressions.
The major drawback of the opposition parties and civil society organisations over the period was to place their hope on SADC’s decisiveness to have its decisions implemented. In that, they were disappointed. The cries of wives of the detained soldiers and those in exile did not move SADC to be as decisive as its decisions seemed to indicate. It is probably only with European Union and United States pressure that Kamoli’s commission as Commander was finally terminated in December 2016. A combination of public demonstrations by many sections of the people and foreign pressure ensured that, as Kamoli conceded in his last date as Commander, ensured that Kamoli was removed from the command. However the pressure has not been enough to ensure that the suspects in all the crimes specified in the Phumaphi Report are suspended. On the contrary they have been promoted to higher ranks and some of them skipping ranks contrary to the promotions policy. Some of them have actually been promoted twice since 2015. The intention is very transparent. This was meant to ensure a firm grip at all levels of the officer corps by tainted personnel who would ensure that any future government which wants to institute reforms and accountability would find it difficult to do so. Moreover, the government has tabled an atrocious bill in parliament termed the Amnesty Bill. This Bill was meant to exonerate all the crimes committed by military, police, correctional services and civilians who committed those in their official capacity or on their own frolic from 2007 till 2015. It is the most undignified law that any government could think of. It is however unlikely to muster the necessary votes in parliament.
The unexpected revelations during the sittings of the Phumaphi Commission and the rallying cry to implement the decisions of SADC resultant thereof probably forced Mosisili to intensify the clampdown which unfortunately brought into the surface the resultant resistance which had been building up over the past eighteen months. The crackdown has been multifaceted but for purposes of this paper only the most significant will be dealt with.
Mosisili’s crackdown and resistance
The clampdown began with an intensified intimidation of the media. The regime spent a lot of time on government controlled media including television, commonly known now as “TV Monga eona” in Sesotho. This essentially means that it does not serve the public but its owner. It a propaganda tool which most people now ignore. The message was largely to berate the private media and the opposition. Indeed the former Minister of Communication, Letsatsi, went so far as to write to some of the radio stations giving them warning that they would be closed if they continued to air things which he was against. But more bizarrely Letsatsi announced that government was preparing to close down social media which, unlike the newspapers and radio stations had become the major source of news and exposure of the goings on in the government.
Particular focus of the government and its supporters at times was an attempt to intimidate Lesotho Times, a weekly Lesotho newspaper. Both the editor of the newspaper and the reporter were arrested and threatened by a joint police and army team for having written a story about negotiations between the government and the then Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force to award him M40 million as a separation payout. They demanded that those journalists should reveal their sources. They refused and consequently the reporter skipped the country having heard that a worse fate awaited her. Over and above the threats by the government, some of the loose tongue members of one of the parties in the seven party coalition headed by Mosisili went on radio to threaten to have both the U.S. Ambassador and the editor of Lesotho Times killed. True to his word a few days later, the editor was ambushed and shot as he entered his residence after work mid 2016 and is still recovering from his injuries. In a normal country threats like those would have lead to a criminal charge. Ramat’sella is still roaming around and making more threats to whomever he thinks does not support the regime.
This did not diminish the resistance against the policies of the regime. One of the first signs of resistance was a demonstration organised by the wives and children of the detained and exiled soldiers under the banner of”Breaking the Silence”. It was a rally which attracted large crowds revealing that people have overcome fear. At the end they narrated their suffering and determination to speak at every possible forum about their husbands/fathers in detention and exile. The size of the gathering must have shocked the regime because from that time onwards it became more difficult to get permission from the police to organise any march.
Three important marches took place almost all of them after court orders had been granted by different groups protesting against corruption and also lack of implementation of the SADC decisions after the Phumaphi Commission. The civil society organisations were all concerned about the lack of action since it would endanger Lesotho’s eligibility under AGOA. The last of those marches attracted even more public participation despite the intimidation which included over flight of army helicopters over the marchers. Almost all opposition political parties supported the marches. The public has now discarded the fear of the regime which could have been expected after its display of brute force to impose its will on the people.
With limited success to discourage people to go for demonstrations, and with the courts increasingly ruling in favour of the organisers, the latest tactic by the regime is to track the process of providing permits for demonstrations and also to harass and intimidate the organisers of such marches.
In the context of diminishing number of supporters of the regime in and out parliament as a result of Moleleki’s feud with Mosisili, (former Deputy Leader of the DC lead by Mosisili) leading to an ultimate split of the party with each controlling about 50% of Members of Parliament, crackdown intensified. In an unprecedented move police stopped Moleleki’s supporters from going to the airport to welcome him from an overseas trip. They deployed riot squad in all routes leading to the airport. The police put up roadblocks, deployed all types of riot gear in all directions to the airport. However Moleleki’s supporters together with others from the opposition bared the obstacles. While most did not reach the airport, some did. They thus created a convoy to Moleleki’s house where he addressed them and the media. His message was that he wants to distance himself from the divisive Mosisili stance that those Basotho who follow the congress tradition and beliefs are like oil and water to those who stand for the nationalist course. The crowds in Moleleki’s courtyard belonged to all political streaks in Lesotho. The crowds also included plainclothes members of Military Intelligence (M.I.) who were taking pictures of those in the compound. Machesetsa Mofomobe, Spokesperson of the Basotho National Party (BNP), who was also in that crowd, took pictures of the M.I. people who were in the crowd.
It is this incident which sparked the resistance against the establishment. A few days after that incident, Mofomobe was arrested in the evening. While his lawyers went to court for him to be released, Maseru witnessed massive spontaneous reaction by people who wanted him to be released. Throughout that evening until he was released at midnight, roads leading to the Police Headquarters were barricaded by angry opposition supporters who burned tyres until the early hours of Saturday demanding Mr Mofomobe’s release. Skirmishes with police were everywhere in the city centre. This was only the beginning of the protests. When Mofomobe went to court on Monday following, he was accompanied by hundreds of supporters who were incensed that he had been arrested over the weekend. Their chants were very clear. The suspected that he would disappear in the hands of the police who have increasingly become political pawns in the on-going struggle for power in Lesotho.
Machesetsa was then charged under the Lesotho Defence Act. He was charged with inciting public violence for allegedly taking Military Intelligence (MI) pictures at the Moleleki’s residence in Qoatsaneng, Maseru on 28 October 2016. It is alleged that he promised to post the said photographs on Facebook wall owned by a mystical person by the name of Makhaola Qalo who publishes secret government documents. Alternatively he was charged with obstructing army officers from performing their jobs. The case was adjourned for further investigations.
Two things are pertinent here. First, Mofomobe is not a soldier. Charging him under a military law is curious to say the least. Second, it is clear that people who fought for his release did not flinch when confronted by armed police. Fear no longer predominates their thinking. Mofomobe himself has not retreated in his opposition to the Mosisili regime which no longer has the necessary numbers in parliament after losing about 50% of his party’s members of parliament to Moleleki led Alliance of Democrats (AD). He was arrested again but released without a charge this time for defaming high ranking police officers and inciting violence. The fact that he was not charged in indicative. It was only to distract him and other organizers of another protest march which ultimately did not take place.
In a similar manner Thuso Litjobo, leader of the youth movement of the newly formed political party led by Moleleki was arrested and driven far away in a rural police station. The reason for moving him away from Maseru was ostensibly to ensure that protesters do not accompany him to the police station as they have been doing whenever Machesetsa is arrested or detained. This did not succeed because crowds got to that police station to ensure that, as they said, that he does not disappear. Following a habeas corpus application by his family, Litjobo was presented to the High Court and released since there was no reason as the judge ruled to have arrested him. When he was finally charged with criminal defamation of a senior police officer whom he had accused of dabbling in politics, the case was dismissed. The central issue here was that the police were merely trying to arrest Litjobo, Machesetsa and others as a way of disorganizing people who were organizing a march to demand that parliament should be re-opened after it was closed sine die without Members of Parliament voting on it in terms of known procedure.
In order to illustrate the depth of the attempt to intimidate the people through use of police the incident which took place in the offices of the Lesotho Times a few days ago is indicative. Machesetsa Mofomofe and other organizers of the march demanding the reopening of parliament were stopped by people describing themselves as police in vehicles with no blade numbers and not in police uniform. They claimed they were looking for him. He responded that he was there for an interview and can only attend to them after such interview. In any case Machesetsa went on to ask for their identification and they refused to produce such identification. With the crowds increasing Machesetsa left them there to continue his interview with the newspaper staff. He told them that without identification he was not sure whether they wanted to kidnap him or not. A police spokesman, Molefe, later argued on radio that police without identification must still be obeyed. Molefe seems to have lost some of his training even though he is one of those who are repeatedly been promoted of late.
Increasingly people seem to have overcome fear. They crowd police who are trying to detain and arrest people just to divert attention from the bigger issues of rule of law and governance. Crowding the police in whatever place they try to take their victims seems to have been the preferred mode of operation of the populace. Resistance is now intensified. People no longer just hide or run away from agents of the state. They resist them.
MS 24/01/2016

Mosisili’s last desperate moves: strategy of “ruling from the grave”

Overview

From September/October 2016 we have pronounced the imminent fall of Lesotho Prime Minister Mosisili’s government. That has not happened for one reason or another. After more than fifteen years as Prime Minister, Mosisili has learned how to avoid traps. Cunning as he may be. he now knows that even the most politically astute politician can postpone but not avoid his Waterloo moment. By the judgment of the Lesotho High Court, Mosisili won control of the Democratic Congress (DC) against the executive committee of his party which had sought to oust him. He however realised that his victory was not worth anything since his nemesis in the party; Monyane Moleleki walked out and formed a new party supported by no less than 50% of Members of Parliament. That left him leading a minority coalition government. It must be remembered that Mosisili’s coalition was made up of seven coalition partners most of whom had only one seat each in parliament. When twenty three members joined Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD), Mosisili remained with at most 42 coalition members of parliament in a 120 seat body.

Moleleki had earlier on formalised his agreement with All Basotho Convention (ABC, with the support of the two other exiled political leaders of the Basotho National Party (BNP), and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), to form a new coalition government. The numbers of that prospective coalition are over seventy. To make matters worse for Mosisili, his Deputy Prime Minister’s party Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which was the second biggest in terms of numbers in the coalition government, has also dramatically split. The Secretary General of the Party, Selibe Mochoboroane has now formed his party called Movement for Economic Change (MEC). That makes Mosisili’s prospects for survival even bleaker. He probably only has members of parliament who are equal or less than his 37 member cabinet. This is why he has failed to replace all those cabinet members who resigned with Moleleki.

How then has Mosisili survived with these numbers in a parliamentary democracy? It was largely due to the connivance of the ruling coalition and the Speaker. From 11/10/2016 when parliament was re-opened after the winter break, until two and half weeks later when it went for another recess indefinitely without a vote by Members of Parliament, the agenda was only prayer. No debates were allowed to take place for that period. Even the “points of Order” interruptions common in parliaments were ignored by the Speaker. The key issue was how to prolong the government in office while making all the efforts to prevent an effective successor government. In the meantime, Mosisili was frantically working on a programme of self-perpetuation even when the inevitable happened. He was under no illusion that his days were numbered but he wanted to prolong his influence beyond his days in office by frantically appointing his protégés and promoting others to strategic positions. These included attempts to dilute SADC decisions on Constitutional, administrative and security reforms; it also included hoodwinking other people about the government’s true intentions on the Amnesty Bill.

Investing in his future

In 2012 when Mosisili handed power to his successor, he had been Prime Minister continuously from 1998. He had thus built a solid base in both the public service and the security services. Nevertheless he felt the need to appoint both the Government Secretary, who heads the public service, and the Commander of the LDF a few weeks before the elections. Kamoli later came to serve him well in destabilising the new coalition government until it collapsed. After two and half years away from power, Mosisili seems to have been clear that there was a need to rebuild his power base.  He got rid of all Principal Secretaries but two and Ambassadors but two. He also swept clean the echelons of the police to be replaced by his handpicked ones. His final sweep also went to remove Professor Mosito, an eminent jurist as President of the Court of Appeal, on tramped up charges of delayed submission of income tax returns, where the tax authority was not even a complainant.

Mosisili’s reach in twilight days has been very extensive. It was and has a focus on his future rather than the national interest. Perhaps what gave him nightmares was the ever increasing pressure from the European Union and the United States on implementation of decisions emanating from the Phumaphi Report. Key to him was the insistence that he should remove Kamoli, his key ally, from the command of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). Having conceded that he had no alternative but to do so, he dilly dallied for more than six months. His argument was always that negotiations are on-going. The dateline for AGOA annual assessment for eligibility was getting closer. The U. S. did not only sent an Assistant Secretary of State to Maseru, but also wrote an uncompromising letter to Mosisili that Lesotho faces exclusion from AGOA if there is no progress in implementing the SADC decisions on good governance and rule of law.

It is at this stage that Mosisili began to process the exit of Lt. General Kamoli as Commander of the LDF. This was done through an obscure clause in the Legal Notice ostensibly to appoint Major General Mot’somot’so as Commander. The clause removing Kamoli reads as follows:

  1. The Lesotho Defence Force (Appointment of Commander) Notice 2015 is repealed.

While Section 1 promotes and confers the Command to Mot’somot’so, Section 2 repeals the instruments which appointed Kamoli. This is inelegant but effectively removes Kamoli as Commander since he was only appointed in 2015 by Mosisili after he had been dismissed by the previous government. But what is clear is that Kamoli left on his own terms. These are the indicators.

First is the appointment of Mot’somot’so who was due for retirement. He has always demonstrated extreme loyalty to Kamoli. His stance was made clear in 2014 when he was appointed to Act as Commander while Kamoli was onstensibly on sabbatical. He refused to accept even a letter of appointment. Rumour has it that he did not even use the Commander’s office during that period.

Second, Kamoli continues to be heavily guarded by members of the LDF several weeks after he has been removed from his Command. More importantly, a week ago, when his sister was being buried, the whole funeral activities were handled by the LDF. Army helicopters and trucks were all over in Bobete, where he comes from. Perhaps a secret agreement exist somewhere which will explain how Kamoli left LDF and remained in charge.

The second layer of Mosisili’s strategy to perpetuate himself beyond his term of office is related to the amazingly rapid career progression of officers in the army and the police. Details are only emerging about police promotions and they include the rapid rise of one Mapoola who is now Assistant Commissioner of Police. This is the second promotion he has had after Mosisili got back in office after the 2015 elections. His amazing story was told by him to the Phumaphi Commission, where he was dismissed rather amusingly by the Commission when he related a civilian version of the army mutiny but refused or did not know anything that would be of assistance to the Commission. The military progression like the meteoric rise of Mapoola is more interesting as part of the bigger picture of Mosisili’s survival strategy. In a tabular form hereunder I show cases similar to those but also will indicate why this is important later.

 

 

 

Rank 2015 Rank 2016 Rank 2017
Ntoi Major Colonel Brigadier
Sechele Major Colonel Brigadier
Hashatsi Captain Lt. Colonel Colonel
Phaila Lt. Colonel   Colonel
Lekhooa Major Colonel  
Fonane Second Lieutenant   Captain
Makoae  Lieutenant   Captain
Ramoepana Major Lt. Colonel  
Makara Sergeant   Captain
Nyakane Second Lieutenant   Captain
Moleleki Lance Corporal   Sergeant
Lepheane Warrant Officer Major  
Hlehlisi Second Lieutenant Major  

What is significant about these movements is that more than 90% of the upward movements here is made up of people who have been specifically pinpointed in both the Phumaphi report and also the judgement of the Court of Appeal in which Hashatsi challenged the legality of the Phumaphi Commission. Needless to say that he lost that case. Most of these people are expected to be suspended while police investigations continue about a myriad of cases from High Treason, Murder, and Bombings etc. Instead of suspension they have been promoted some against the Promotions Policy which guides these cases.

From a public policy perspective, there are also a lot of issues with these promotions. They largely did not exist in the establishment and have been done in the middle of the financial year. What it means is that posts were created for the above and the next government will be settled with unmanageable personnel costs. But even more important is the fact that the promotions have created a monster whereby there are too many brigadiers, too many colonels. It’s a case of “too many chiefs”.

For Mosisili at least two objectives have been achieved by the promotions. First, if international pressure increases and he releases the detained soldiers and those in exile return, he will have miraculously ensured that seniors are now juniors of his handpicked soldiers. It will now be easy to remove those he did not approve of through normal military procedures. Thus throughout the ranks he will have his ears and eyes to ensure that he and Kamoli continue to be in charge of the LDF.

Secondly, like in the first change of government in 2012 where Mosisili placed Kamoli to ensure that the government was unstable, he has now devised a grander scheme. No government that he does not like will be able to run the country. He will thus be remotely in charge and with no responsibility for what happens.

As if these moves are not enough, Mosisili has intensified his stranglehold on power beyond his days in office by seconding recently promoted Colonel Lekhooa to head the National Security Service (NSS), a civilian intelligence agency, from LDF. We now have a serving military officer heading NSS. How can a military man, already implicated in the crimes listed in Hashatsi’s case in the Lesotho Court of Appeal, head and provide independent intelligence advice to the government? Mosisili and Kamoli now have a stranglehold on the government for the foreseeable future. Lekhooa has only been placed at NSS only to gather intelligence to frustrate justice. He will only be there as part of the exit strategy for both Kamoli and Mosisili. He will not serve the government of the day but will play the role of a private intelligence for those who placed him there. Let us be aware of the strategies of self-perpetuation!

The seriousness of these actions far outweighs his eminent fall. He will control all the levers of power while others attempt to run an ungovernable state. Are the leaders of the forthcoming coalition aware and ready to respond to these machinations? For the sake of this country I hope they are.

 

Happy New Year! We parted in October 2016 due to a nasty car accident.

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