Moleleki angers BNP

Moleleki angers BNP

MASERU – THE Basotho National Party (BNP) is hopping mad at Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader and Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki.
This comes after his statements about an alleged massacre that happened in Lipeketheng during the BNP rule in 1974.
The facts of what happened are hotly disputed. The common narrative is that dozens of people who now lie in a mass grave in the village were Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) supporters who were killed by the police at the BNP government’s instructions.

There are allegations that some were buried alive. The BNP however disputes that account, insisting that there was never a massacre and those killed were not BCP supporters but illegal diamond miners who had resisted arrest and attacked the police.

The BNP has a history of aggressively pushing back against those who insist that it was a massacre.
It recently came down hard on MoAfrika radio station for saying the BNP government was to blame for the massacre and suggesting the construction of a monument at the grave site.
Moleleki is now facing the BNP’s wrath after he mentioned the massacre during his party’s rally over the weekend in Hlotse.
“When we shout our slogan saying: ‘Forward, at the back is congested’, we simply mean back there it is full of hatred, name-calling, killings of people because they do not belong to one party,” Moleleki said.

“What is full is the shed blood of Basotho by other Basotho who were buried there in Lipeketheng.”
Moleleki’s speech was widely interpreted to be an attack on the BNP, his partner in the four-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Soon after the rally AD and BNP members started trading insults on social media. Former radio personality who is also an AD activist, Joseph Ntakha, posted a video in which he challenged BNP members to hold their own rally and talk instead of attacking his leader’s speech.
“My leader was addressing his party, so leave him alone,” Ntakha said.

BNP supporters responded with salvos, with others saying Moleleki is “a lost leader who distorts history to suit his petty political aspirations”.
Before tempers could cool the AD executive committee yesterday called a press conference to defend Moleleki’s statement.
The party’s secretary general, Mahali Phamotse, referred to the Lipeketheng as “the untainted truth which is so clear that he will repeat it until Basotho understand it”.

She said Moleleki “did not speak unprepared, did not insult anybody, and did not humiliate anybody”.
“He does not speak with the purpose to hurt anybody,” Phamotse said.
“He did not put blame on anybody or any political party.”

She continued: “He is telling history, which we should take as a challenge that spurs us to earn for peace.”
Phamotse said Basotho should learn to embrace their history to avoid repeating “hatred and killings that were perpetrated in the past”.
She cited examples of killing in which Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng was exhumed at Lepereng, the killing of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao in Mokema in 2015, the assassination of Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo and Lipeketheng where people were buried in mass grave.

She accused the AD critics of “selectively singling out Lipeketheng” when they talked about Moleleki’s speech.
But the BNP came out fighting. The party’s spokesman Machesetsa Mofomobe last night told thepost that if Moleleki wants the “truth as it is in history he should have talked about the Lipeketheng issue accurately”.

“It is not true that the people who were killed at Lekhalong Ha-Koatsa and later buried in Lipeketheng were BCP members targeted because of their political affiliation,” Mofomobe said.
“History will prove that there were also BNP members among them, others were MFP members and, of course, some were members of the BCP,” he said.
“Even the uncle of the current executive member of the BNP, Tšepo Monethi, who was a member of the BNP, was killed and this shows that it is not true that those people died solely because they were BCP members.”

Mofomobe said they were criminals who had attacked police stations, captured guns and were now fighting against the police because they resisted when they were stopped from illegal mining activities.
“The police responded with live ammunition and many of them died,” Mofomobe said, adding: “This issue was not political; they were criminals taking up arms against a lawful law enforcement agency of His Majesty.”

He said if the AD wants to talk about history it must also include the 1988 incident in which the BCP armed wing, Lesotho Liberation Army, held nuns hostage during the papal visit in Lesotho.
He said the party must also talk about the killing of Lesotho’s Public Works Minister Jobo Rampeta who was assassinated by “LLA terrorists”.
He also said it must talk about Basotho who had fled the country and stayed in South Africa who aided the South African National Defence Force in Lesotho’s invasion in 1982.
“The list is endless,” he said.

“These things will not bring us any good. We need to talk about how we are moving our country forward instead of wasting time on things that divide the nation.”
“Our politicking should be about how we are going to generate jobs within the next three or six months.”

‘Makhotso Rakotsoane

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