Organisers, Maseru police boss clash over march

Organisers, Maseru police boss clash over march

MASERU – THE organisers of a protest march to force the Speaker of Parliament Ntlhoi Motsamai to open Parliament are at loggerheads with the Maseru police boss over permission to hold the march.

The protest organisers also want the government to speedily implement SADC recommendations and prosecute soldiers who killed former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao. However, their protest which was scheduled towards month-end has hit a brick wall with the Maseru urban police commander Senior Superintendent Motlatsi Mapola turning down their application to march.

They wanted their procession to be from the Stadium Area to Moshoeshoe I Statue.
In a letter dated January 6, 2017 which was seen by thepost, Mapola said “it is not clear who are going to take part” in the procession apart from the Basotho National (BNP)’s spokesman Machesetsa Mofomobe, All Basotho Convention (ABC) youth league and the Alliance of Democrats (AD) spokesmen, Mphonyane Lebesa and Chafotsa Letuka who signed the application. Quoting from the Public Meetings and Processions Act 2011, Mapola said: “The application or notice shall specify the names and address of the person or body of persons organising the public meeting or procession.”

“I wish to bring to your attention that on the aforesaid alone, your application for a procession permit does not pass the test,” Mapola said. Mapola also told the march organisers that he could not allow them to hold the procession because one of them, Mofomobe, had told a BNP rally in Maputsoe that the protesters would not leave until Parliament is reopened.

“I have a reasonable belief that your application for a procession permit is in relation to the very same procession that Mr Machesetsa Mofomobe was referring to,” Mapola said.
“This is because the destination that he was referring to is the very destination intended in your application (Moshoeshoe I Statue),” he said. “Due to the fact that I do not know when Parliament will be reopened I put it to you that your contention that you will not leave the place unless Parliament reopens by itself poses a threat or harm to peace, public safety, public security and public order,” he said. Mapola wanted the three to show cause why he should not refuse their application.

The three men answered Mapola on Tuesday in a letter saying the Act “does not speak of people going to take part in the procession”. “Please be aware that the address is not the bone of contention as it was specifically spelled out in our letter of request and succinctly captured in your prompt reply,” their letter reads. They said the Act says within two days of receipt of the application the police should notify the applicant of the decision including the reasons for refusal if any but Mapola had not done so.

The march has been organised by textile workers, opposition political parties and civil society groups to force Mosisili to prosecute soldiers who killed Mahao and those who committed other crimes between August 29, 2014 and June 25, 2015. The groups argue if Mosisili does not prosecute the soldiers Lesotho might not qualify for AGOA when it is due for renewal in March this year. AGOA is a law passed by the United States to make it easy for poor African countries to export their products to its market duty-free.The US demands AGOA beneficiaries to uphold high democratic principles, rule of law and respect for human rights among others.

Staff Reporter

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