Thabane fights for immunity

Thabane fights for immunity

MASERU-PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane is pushing for immunity from prosecution as part of his conditions to immediately leave office.
Sources told thepost that the assurance of immunity has become the biggest stumbling block to Thabane’s exit. The sources say once that has been granted the Prime Minister will leave as soon as this week or next.

Thabane is also said to have shared his fear of prosecution with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s envoy this week.
That could explain why the agreement between the government and the envoy was couched in palatable terms to soothe Thabane.

“The coalition government of the kingdom of Lesotho commits to effecting the implementation process or modalities for the dignified, graceful and secure retirement of the Right Honourable The Prime Minister,” said the agreement.

Jeff Radebe, South Africa’s former justice minister who led the delegation, indicated that Thabane’s exit was imminent.
Radebe said the majority of stakeholders who spoke to the envoy said Thabane has to leave the office with dignity, grace and security and that “he must leave immediately”.

Thabane wants assurances that he will not be prosecuted for the murder of his wife Lipolelo Thabane.
Although he is yet to be charged, the case still hangs on his head.
Only the court case he has filed to challenge his prosecution as the incumbent prime minister has delayed the charges. Even if he wins the case the charges will only be delayed until he leaves office.
His trouble therefore remains.

Thabane is also said to be haggling for immunity for his wife ’Mesaiah Thabane who has been charged with Lipolelo’s murder.
But the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s executive committee says immunity will not be part of his exit deal.

“That will not happen,” said Montoeli Masoetsa, the ABC spokesperson, when asked about Thabane’s quest for immunity.
“If he gets that then everyone will ask for the same and you end up undermining the rule of law,” he said.
“The party’s position is that no one should be granted immunity. You have SADC recommendations and judges handling criminal cases so any immunity will be going against SADC and national laws.”

Pressure has been mounting from the region and diplomatic missions for Thabane to step down immediately. His party and some of his coalition partners are clamouring for his exit.

The parliament has soured on him and is readying to push him out.
Some of his loyalists have deserted him. What remains in his camp is a small clique of MPs and ministers.

Although Thabane, 80, has said he will retire in July or earlier, his actions in recent months seem to indicate that he wants to hang on to power.
He has prorogued parliament and tried to fire the police commissioner.
He is fighting Court of Appeal president Justice Kananelo Mosito and nudged out Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara.

Two weeks ago he fired two ministers.
Speculation is rife that he is about to confirm Justice Maseforo Mahase as the substantive chief justice despite that there is a pending lawsuit pushing for her impeachment for various alleged misdemeanours.

And on Saturday he allegedly ordered the army into the streets, in what was seen as an attempt to intimidate opponents pushing for his removal. Thabane said the army was there to ensure peace and stability but his rivals and observers said he was retaliating for losing two crucial court cases.

Last Thursday the High Court issued a temporary order blocking the Prime Minister from suspending Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli.
A day later the Constitutional Court ruled that his decision to prorogue parliament was wrong. Commissioner Molibeli has since told the High Court that Thabane deployed the army to arrest him.

Staff Reporter

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