PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane wants to recall Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana from his special leave in Algeria, and reinstate him “to strengthen” police operations ahead of the 28 February 2015 snap election.
Impeccable sources told the Sunday Express this week Dr Thabane recently proposed to South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Tšooana “to temporarily come and manage police operations for the smooth running of the elections”.
Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, yesterday confirmed Dr Thabane asked Mr Ramaphosa for advice on how ComPol Tšooana could be reinstated ahead of next month’s polls.
Mr Mphaka said: “That issue is currently on the table between Mr Ramaphosa and the prime minister. Actually, Ntate Thabane communicated with Mr Ramaphosa for advice on how ComPol Tšooana could be brought back to strengthen police operations during next month’s parliamentary elections.
“This matter is not conclusive yet, but it is being discussed.”
ComPol Tšooana, along with Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao and Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, left the country on 21 November 2014 in line with the Maseru Security Accord (MSA) signed on 23 October 2014.
Under the MSA, which was facilitated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) through Mr Ramaphosa, the three men were required to go to an African or Commonwealth country on special leave to allow the restoration of peace between the LMPS and LDF, whose continued feuding — mainly due to personality clashes between ComPol Tšooana and Lt Gen Kamoli — had brought Lesotho to the brink of civil war.
ComPol Tšooana and Lt Gen Mahao are stationed in Algeria and Sudan respectively, while Lt Gen Kamoli is still in South Africa and yet to leave for his destination of Uganda.
Mr Mphaka said if the proposal to bring back ComPol Tšooana is endorsed by Mr Ramaphosa: “ComPol Tšooana would be brought back just to manage police operations until after the elections when the situation normalises.
“Thereafter, he can go back to Algeria.”
Mr Mphaka would not be drawn to state the reasons Dr Thabane preferred ComPol Tšooana to his deputy, Acting Commissioner Masupha Masupha, who was appointed to hold the fort soon after his boss’s departure.
However, sources privy to the matter said the premier was not happy with the way Commissioner Masupha was running the police.
Dr Thabane’s displeasure, the sources said, was exacerbated by Commissioner Masupha’s contentious decision to send Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sello Mosili on forced leave pending retirement without consulting the premier, who is also the Minister of Police.
ACP Mosili, who led investigations on several high profile corruption cases, as well as the January 2014 bombings of the residences of Dr Thabane’s wife, Liabiloe ‘MaIsaiah Thabane, her neighbour and ComPol Tšooana, received a letter from Commissioner Masupha last Tuesday telling him to go on leave till 27 January 2015, upon which he would be retired from the police after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 55.
However, Dr Thabane later overturned Commissioner Masupha’s decision saying such a critical decision should not have been made without his knowledge. The premier accused Commissioner Masupha of “ill advising himself” in the decision to send the top cop on forced leave.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Express has since learnt that Dr Thabane intends to extend ACP Mosili’s service in the police on a contractual basis as the latter had reached the retirement age of 55 years.
The police Principal Secretary, Refiloe Matekane, said yesterday the modalities of extending ACP Mosili’s service were being worked out between him, Dr Thabane and Commissioner Masupha.
“The issue of whether Ntate Mosili’s service will be extended on contract or otherwise is yet to be finalised in a meeting between the prime minister, Commissioner Masupha and the ACP himself,” said Mr Matekane.
“The meeting is only scheduled for next week, probably starting on Monday (tomorrow). The outcome of the meeting will determine his fate.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, ACP Mosili indicated he was still waiting for a letter extending his service after Dr Thabane’s intervention.
“After receiving a letter to go on leave, I am still waiting at home to hear what will be the next step on this matter,” ACP Mosili said.
“I am aware that the prime minister has intervened and wants me back at work, but that will be determined by him later.
“One thing I am sure of is that if I return to work it will be under clear directives supported by the law.”
Efforts to reach Dr Thabane and Commissioner Masupha were fruitless until the time of going to print.