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Thabane courts opposition

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. . . as Mosisili pushes for Kamoli’s release

MASERU – PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane says SADC’s role in Lesotho’s long anticipated national reforms is most welcome because of the bloc’s neutrality.
Addressing opposition party leaders not represented in parliament on the reforms last Friday, Thabane allayed fears that the reforms will be skewed towards the ruling parties.
“All reforms dialogues will be led by SADC as it is a neutral party,” Thabane said.

“SADC will play a lead role in facilitating the political-level national dialogue through the National Leaders Forum and provide a supportive presence in the other levels of the dialogue,” he said.
Thabane also said the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and the civil society, women and youth organisations will play a pivotal role in steering the dialogue.
He said the College of Chiefs and all political parties will be included in the dialogue.

Thabane said the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) will be inclusive so that all processes of the dialogue will be seen neutral and objective.
The prime minister said this at a time when he is in talks with his predecessor Pakalitha Mosisili to break the impasse over the reforms.
The opposition has refused to participate in the reforms until its leaders return from exile.

Mosisili later told thepost that the opposition will not take part in any reforms processes unless their demands are met.
Mosisili said he told Thabane that he must release former army boss Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in jail for months awaiting a battery of charges that include murder and attempted murder.

“Lt Gen Kamoli is still in detention. His case is delayed. It is even worrisome because he has been denied bail,” he said.
Mosisili said Lt Gen Kamoli has been in detention for ten months. He also said he told Thabane that his political ally, the self-exiled leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing, should come back home and his safety guaranteed.

“We want Metsing and his deputy Tšeliso Mokhosi to be part of the reforms and the government should ensure their safety back into the country,” Mosisili said.
Since the murder of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015 and the subsequent commission of inquiry chaired by a Botswana judge, Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi, Lesotho has been under immense international pressure to implement reforms.

Justice Phumaphi recommended the reforms in the judiciary, security sector, parliament and the public service.
SADC has been piling pressure on Thabane’s government to get on with the reforms.
Thabane told party leaders that he expects that by next year there will be a national agreement on the content and processes of comprehensive political reforms and national conciliation.
He said it is also expected that by next year tensions and divisions within and among security services will be reduced thereby enhancing the participation of the security sector in the national dialogue and reforms processes.

Terms of reference for the proposed NDPC, which Thabane was actively asking parties to support once it is constituted, include the preparation and coordination of the national dialogue plenary and arrangements for district consultations. The NDPC will design and plan dialogue topics and themes, speakers and facilitators, and parallel thematic sessions.
It will also develop the criteria for representation at the dialogue, draw up a list of participants and sensitise the communities to ensure effective participation.

Stressing the need for a neutral body like SADC throughout all processes, Thabane said the committee will have five representatives from the government, three from SADC, two from the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), one from the CCL, one from the media, one from academia, six from political parties, and two from other stakeholders.
He said the criteria for the NDPC membership selection will be based on technical skills including designing, planning and execution of events, budgeting and finance, drafting, writing, reporting and documentation, community organisation and mobilisation and media and communication.
He said the UNDP will be an ex-officio member of the committee.

Thabane said one of the initial steps of the national dialogue is the convening of the National Leaders Forum.
He said the purpose of the NLF is to involve political leaders to forge consensus on the reforms and national reconciliation.
“As agreed by the leaders, this forum could meet at intervals as needed during the implementation of the reforms,” he said.
He said its other purpose is “to contribute to trust and confidence-building among the country’s top political leaders by providing a forum where the leaders can check-in with each other from time to time as necessary in order to promote the reforms”.

The forum will be convened by the Prime Minister in collaboration with the SADC Oversight Committee or the SADC Facilitator in Lesotho.
“The target is the top political leadership in government and opposition and any other leaders whose participation would be deemed helpful,” he said.
He said the provision of ‘other leaders’ allows for flexibility in as far as inclusion of other leaders helps to build trust, confidence and consensus among the primary participants.
“It however does not alter the focus on political leaders as the core participants.”

Staff Reporter

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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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