Metsing digs in his heels

Metsing digs in his heels

MASERU – SELF-EXILED Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing says he reneged on his promise to return home and participate in multi-sector reforms due to government’s unpredictability. Metsing on Tuesday announced during a radio interview that he will not be returning to Lesotho until he is certain that the government can guarantee his personal security.

He claimed the government is still out to harm him.
He cited the suspension of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara as one of the signs of government’s lack to commitment to ensuring the security of those it does not agree with.,
“This shows that one cannot rely on the promises made by this government, you never know what their next step will be,” said Metsing, describing the chief justice’s suspension as a “clear political act against the apolitical judge”.

“They promise this and on the next day they do the opposite,” he said.
Metsing, who has been holed up in South Africa since August last year after alleging that his life is in danger, said Chief Justice Majara’s suspension was unlawful.
“It is clear that it is not about rule of law but personal interests, I thank opposition leaders for deciding not to take part in the coming reforms,” he said.
The opposition leader’s absence has stalled multi sector reforms viewed by Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries as key to fostering a sustainable democratic culture after decades of political instability in Lesotho.

Opposition demands such as guarantees on the security of Metsing have largely stalled the reform process, envisaged to transform the country’s Constitution and usher changes in the legislature, the judiciary, security, public service and media.
The reforms came at the recommendation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016 as the sub-regional body battles to play midwife to a democratic and prosperous Lesotho following decades of political turmoil, coups and alleged human rights violations.

Metsing said the suspension of the chief justice showed lack of commitment to embark on genuine reforms.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has promised to offer Metsing protection if he returns from exile to participate in the national reforms.
Metsing’s conditions to return home also include personal safety for his deputy, Tšeliso Mokhosi, who fled the country after claiming that the police tortured him.
Mokhosi said the police forced him to implicate himself and Metsing in the murder of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng in March 2016.
“It is well known that my deputy Ntate Mokhosi was embarrassed, humiliated and assaulted to implicate me,” Metsing said.

“His assaulters were reporting to some people what was happening. We know that he was brutally assaulted,” he said.
“I was never minister of police, even Mokhosi was never minister of police so we were surprised that he was called for questioning. But we know it is all petty politics.
“This showed that the government had long hatched a plan to harm me. They have not refrained from that plan,” he said.
He said he vividly remembers circumstances leading to his escape from the country.

“It was such a tough day of my life and I do not want to talk about it,” he said.
Metsing said political activists carried a coffin with his party’s colours on the day the Prime Minister was inaugurated last year, a sign that they want him dead.
“That was a mark of my death and before then there was a hit list on which I was top together with Lipolelo (Prime Minister’s late wife),” he said.
She was shot dead two days before her estranged husband was sworn in.

He raised eyebrows when his security was withdrawn despite the fact that as a former deputy prime minister, he was entitled to state protection.
“Two weeks after I left the country my security was withdrawn and LDF command decided to give me one soldier a few days afterwards,” Metsing said.
Government spokesman Nthakeng Selinyane said the government had a duty to protect all Basotho and not just Metsing.
“There are certain things that the state must do at a minimum to ensure that everybody is safe but it does not have an obligation to offer anybody special attention,” Selinyane said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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