Metsing: now you see him, now you don’t

Metsing: now you see him, now you don’t

MASERU – MOTHETJOA Metsing.
He is coming. He is not coming. He won’t come. No, he might come.
Well, he has more demands before he comes.

That pretty much is the story of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader on his participation in the reforms.
The government says his absence won’t stall the reforms but it will be good if he comes.
It insists it has met his main demands for security if he comes back from South Africa.
Yet the story changes every week.

The list of the opposition’s demands keeps getting longer.
First it was about security guarantees for Metsing’s return. Later it was about his security as well as that of other opposition leaders and members in exile.
Recently it was about the safe return of senior police officers who fled the country.
Just when it looked like the list has ended the return of Makarabo Mojakhomo was added.
And so the political ping-pong over the reforms continues.

As of this week it looked like there was only one issue that stood in the way of the opposition’s participation in the reforms was: the release of former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who is in custody for 14 attempted murder charges.
That’s according to the LCD deputy spokesman Apesi Ratšele who told thepost that Lt Gen Kamoli’s release is not negotiable. It’s either the government releases the former commander or the opposition will sit out the reforms, Ratšele said.

“They encouraged the previous government to dismiss Kamoli from work then after that was done they arrested him,” he said.
He also said the fact that Lt Gen Kamoli has been rotting in custody for months shows that government has no interest in solving his case.
“We are not going for reforms if they still do not feel like releasing Kamoli from jail,” he added.
Rats’ele also said in 2014 both former commissioner of police Khothatso Tšooana, former army bosses Lieutenant Generals Kamoli and Maaparankoe Mahao were sent outside the country while their dispute was being solved.

“But just after they returned and the government changed, one of them was given a job and Kamoli was arrested,” he said.
It is highly unlikely that the government will release Lt Gen Kamoli, its most prized prisoner since it returned to power. In any case because his matter is not in court the government cannot push for his release without being seen as interfering with the judiciary.

The opposition could insist on the former commander’s release because it wants to give the impression that it stands with its friends.
Or it could be a war of attrition in a country where governments are perishable commodities.
Perhaps the thinking is that each day that passes brings the government closer to its demise.
Or that they could be banking on history and the trouble within the ruling parties.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lesego Makgothi this week gave a hint of the government’s attitude towards the demand for Lt Gen Kamoli’s release.
“They should try giving us other valid conditions as we have adhered to some of their conditions,” Makgothi said.
“If they do not want to go for reforms they should say so, instead of talking about Kamoli who is suspected of crimes,” he said, adding that Lieutenant General Kamoli “will appear before courts whether they go for reforms or not but we will go for reforms.”

Makgothi said the reforms will continue with or without the opposition.
He said the opposition also talked about ’Makarabo Mojakhomo’s safety as one of their conditions for their participation in the reforms.
“They are always talking about people suspected of committing crimes. We are wondering why the LCD always aligns itself with suspected criminals,” he said.
But amid the fracas there is a sub-plot that has been emerging.

It turns out that the opposition has nominated representatives to the National Reforms Planning Committee which has since held its first meeting.
The opposition leaders were also at the National Leaders’ Forum that was meant to lay the groundwork for the reform process.

Nkheli Liphoto

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