Minister, army boss clash

Minister, army boss clash

MASERU-A leaked audio clip has exposed the bitter relations between Defence Minister Tefo Mapesela and army commander Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela.
The clip indicates that relations between the two soured after Mapesela allegedly instructed Lieutenant General Letsoela to fire some senior army officers.
The clip is a recording of Mapesela’s private telephone conversation with Assistant Commissioner of Police Beleme Lebajoa.
In the clip a furious Mapesela complained to Assistant Commissioner Lebajoa that Lieutenant General Letsoela had compromised his security by revealing his instructions to the same soldiers at a parade.
The minister said the soldiers laughed when Lieutenant General Letsoela told them about the order to fire them.
Mapesela also told Assistant Commissioner Lebajoa that Lieutenant General Letsoela “badmouthed” him to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Mapesela didn’t say exactly what Lieutenant General Letsoela told the Prime Minister.
He however complains that the general wanted the officers to kill him.
“This green one (referring to Lieutenant General Letsoela) says he does not want to die like (Lieutenant General Khoantle) Motšomotšo,” Mapesela said.
“But now he wants them (the soldiers) to kill me.”
Lieutenant General Motšomotšo was murdered in September 2017 by his subordinates, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, after he instructed that soldiers suspected of several crimes be handed to the police.

Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi, who were among those to be handed over to the police, were killed by soldiers moments after they allegedly killed Lieutenant General Motšomotšo.
Mapesela is heard in the clip telling Assistant Commissioner Lebajoa that one of the soldiers he wanted fired is Ntoi.
thepost could not independently verify which Ntoi he was referring to.

The minister said the reason he wanted Ntoi expelled was because he was repeatedly having conversations with fugitive soldier Colonel Tumo Lekhooa.
He said Ntoi had since moved to military intelligence, a unit Colonel Lekhooa was directing before he skipped the country after he was summoned by the police.
“Why did he tell them at the army parade? Does he want them to kill me?” Mapesela quipped.
“Why didn’t he just keep quiet?

” He said Lieutenant General Letsoela could have advised him on the consequences of expelling the officers instead of telling them at the parade.
“We discussed these issues in confidence when we were only two in the office.”
He said he discussed the “dangerous men” (the soldiers he wanted fired) by the commander.
The minister said Lieutenant General Letsoela colluded with the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli and the Director of the National Security Service (NSS), Pheello Ralenkoane, to complain about him to the Prime Minister.

He said he did not know what the NSS boss was complaining about but Commissioner Molibeli was cranky about him saying he directed him to cancel a certain permit he did not specify.
Mapesela has been Acting Police Minister since the resignation of ’Mampho Mokhele two weeks ago.
Mapesela said he was worried that the way security issues were handled would lead to the government’s collapse.
He said the same happened when they were complaining about the then commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and he was shielded by the coalition partner Communications Minister Chief Thesele ’Maseribane.

Mapesela said Chief ’Maseribane, leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP), allegedly said Lieutenant General Kamoli was his man.
He said Chief ’Maseribane had also described Lieutenant General Letsoela as his man.
“If they continue to do things this way this government will collapse,” Mapesela said.
’Maseribane said he will not discuss cabinet issues with the media.

“I pay allegiance to the King. I took oath of office and I cannot discuss these things with anybody and with the media. I cannot discuss government secrets,” ’Maseribane said.
Curiously, instead of saying he would meet his boss Prime Minister Thabane about these issues Mapesela said he would talk to Mokola – a nickname for Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki.
In the clip ACP Lebajoa advised Mapesela to be calm and discuss issues with the army commander.
He also warned him against getting information from army officers who speak ill of the commander.
Last night ACP Lebajoa declined to comment about the clip.

“I am not saying anything about the clip. I am not going to comment,” ACP Lebajoa said.
Mapesela also declined to comment.
He said he had talked to another publication about the issue.
“I am no longer interested in the audio. I don’t want to talk about it. I am not interested,” he said.
The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) spokesman Colonel Mashidi Mashidi said the army also cannot comment.
“As a matter of principle the command, control and coordination of the Defence Force lies with the commander while administration of the Ministry of Defence is there for policy making,” Colonel Mashidi said.

“For that matter, in line with the hierarchy of command structure, the commander doesn’t have powers to respond to what the minister has said in this regard,” he said.
“The LDF Public Affairs Office would appreciate if the commander is recused in as far as this issue is concerned.”

Staff Reporter

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