OPPOSITION parties have urged the government to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the assassination of army commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo.
Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was shot dead at his Ratjomose Barracks office reportedly by Brigadier Bulane Sechele who was accompanied by Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and a third soldier. Brig Sechele was killed in a hail of bullets by Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards soon afterwards, while Col Hashatsi died of his wounds in a nearby hospital.
Major Pitso Ramoepane, who has since been revealed as the third LDF officer, was on Thursday charged with Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s murder in the Magistrate’s Court.
SADC held a Double Troika Summit in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday to map a way forward after the latest bout of instability in the Mountain Kingdom.
On the same day, the opposition parties addressed a press conference at the Democratic Congress (DC) offices in Maseru in which they called for a commission of inquiry into the assassination.
The other parties represented were the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD).
Former premier and DC leader, Pakalitha Mosisili, represented his party while the LCD was represented by its spokesperson, Teboho Sekata and PFD by its leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane.
“We set up a commission of inquiry when one officer was assassinated, what more when we are talking of more deaths,” Dr Mosisili said in apparent reference to the SADC Commission of Inquiry that was set up in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of former army commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.
The SADC Commission of Inquiry was established at the behest of Dr Mosisili in the wake of the fatal shooting of Lt Gen Mahao in June 2015 by his colleagues, with the army saying he was resisting arrest for orchestrating a mutiny plot against the army command.
The 10-member commission chaired by retired judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, of Botswana carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended, among other things, that government should investigate the killing and prosecute those found to be responsible.
The commission also recommended a slew of constitutional, legislative and security sector reforms among others to stem the perennial instability in the Mountain Kingdom.
Dr Mosisili said his administration fully understood the importance of implementing the SADC recommendations as it had foreseen the bitter consequences of “failing to handle the recommendations with care”.
“We had noted the divisions within the army and therefore noted the need for care when handling the issue,” he said.
“That is why we opted for general amnesty which would cater for all without any discrimination. Unfortunately, our government was accused of refusing to implement the SADC recommendations.”
He said they expected the government to reach out to the opposition leaders including LCD leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, who has fled the country allegedly in fear of their lives because they did those in government were once in a similar situation.
“It takes the tall guy to stoop down and hug the short the guy and bringing SADC troops to Lesotho is not the solution to Lesotho’s problems,” Dr Mosisili said.
The government comprises of Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, the Alliance of Democrats, the Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The four parties came to power after the 3 June 2017 snap elections, replacing the Dr Mosisili-led seven parties’ regime.
Speaking on Friday, Dr Mosisili accused the government of orchestrating a “serious deterioration of democracy and the rule of law”.
He said that the closure of Moafrika FM radio station on Wednesday allegedly for defamation was evidence that government was hostile to the media which did not support it.
“The media is a pivotal pillar in any democratic dispensation and oppressing it amounts to silencing the populace and denying it freedom of expression. Oppression of the media equals oppression of democracy,” Dr Mosisili said.
“There shall only be good governance when there is stability in the state institutions such as the National Security Services, the police force, the judiciary and the correctional services, as absence of such can lead to deterioration of service delivery, corruption and loss of control by the government.”
He also said the appointment of Pheello Ralenkoane as the Director of the National Security Services after he contested the June polls on a BNP ticket, violated the National Security Service Act as well as the SADC recommendations for the de-politicisation of the security sector.