‘Maseribane upbeat over govt talks

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Billy Ntaote

EXILED Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, says he will “soon” return to Lesotho when the ongoing negotiations between the government and opposition are finalised.

Chief ‘Maseribane made the remark yesterday in his address, via mobile phone, to the party’s youth league’s elective conference at the BNP Centre in Maseru.

The BNP leader and his All Basotho Convention and Reformed Congress of Lesotho counterparts, Thomas Thabane and Keketso Rantšo, fled to South Africa in May last year claiming their lives were in danger. However, government representatives met with the leaders of three-party alliance in Modderpoort, South Africa earlier this month to discuss the framework for the return of the opposition leaders.

Chief ‘Maseribane told the party faithful ­­who included delegates from 65 constituencies — that he would be returning home soon to resume his role as party and opposition leader.

“I will be coming back home soon to continue my work as the BNP leader and to engage government on how best we can develop our country. In fact, it’s now only a matter of time before our negotiations come to an end,” he said.

“However, this is the first time in the BNP’s history that the party leader has had to address a party conference in exile and via mobile phone.”

Chief ‘Maseribane said he was forced by circumstances to flee the country.

“I cannot hide my emotions, this (exile) is painful for me. These are testing times for us as believers in God, but we should continue to pray to the Almighty,” the BNP leader said.

“It is not a secret that I left the country fleeing an imminent threat on my life. I received death threats from very powerful people in Lesotho and their agents.”

Chief ‘Maseribane said the fleeing of opposition leaders to the neighbouring nation was among the reasons for the convening of the SADC Commission of Inquiry into Lesotho’s instability.

The probe was led by Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, and took place between 31 August and 23 October 2015 resulting in a number of recommendations to the government regarding the Kingdom’s challenges.

“We should remember that the exile of opposition leaders was among the issues that brought about the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led Commission of Inquiry which we believe did an excellent job,” he said.

“I am also indebted immensely to the members of the National Executive Committee who played a pivotal role in putting across our account of events to the commission as well as other members of the party such as Professor Kopano Makoa.”

Chief ‘Maseribane also took a swipe at the government for expunging names of some people mentioned in the report, adding that it should implement the recommendations in their entirety.

“The government should implement those recommendations as they are in the report. It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Mosisili has expunged parts of it,” said Chief ‘Maseribane.

However, in his tabling of the report last month, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili said he had “no option” but to remove the names of people who were mentioned in the document but whose cases had nothing to do with the inquiry’s terms of reference.

Turning to party issues, he appealed for unity of purpose among BNP members.

“The infighting within the party should end by all means necessary. Basotho have their hopes pinned on our survival as an organisation,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.

“We should not allow ourselves to be destabilised in any way. Instead, we need to focus on fighting for the best interests of Basotho.

“All BNP members will be subjected to the laws governing the affairs of the party. I was once a leader of the youths, but at some point I was banished from the party. However, I remained loyal to the BNP despite the heavy punishment I had to endure.”

The party’s deputy leader, Joang Molapo, also warned the youths to bring unity to the party through their elective conference and not disputes that would spill over into the rest of the party.

“We don’t want to curse the day this committee you are here to choose was elected. Instead, you should work hard and strive for the unity of this party and put its best interests first and foremost,” said Chief Molapo.

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