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Blow for exiled leaders


Billy Ntaote

All Basotho Convention (ABC) parliamentary caucus chairperson, Majoro Mohapi, says the party recently withdrew a motion proposing the establishment of a 14-member ad hoc committee that would have facilitated the speedy implementation of the SADC Inquiry recommendations by the government.

Mr Mohapi says the move came after the motion was allegedly edited to remove certain parts the opposition felt strongly about.

He further alleges the government had wanted to use the motion as an excuse to delay the implementation of the recommendations, which, among others, urged the government to ensure the safe return of three opposition leaders—ABC leader Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo—who fled to South Africa in May last year saying their lives were in danger from some members of the military.

The motion, Mr Mohapi said, was initially submitted to the office of the Speaker by Mosalemane Constituency legislator Samuel Rapapa.

However, Mr Mohapi said when the motion was forwarded to the Business Committee for consideration and to be allocated time for discussion in the august house, he realised some parts had been removed.

“One of the reasons why this motion was drafted was to facilitate the return of our exiled leaders and they had had sanctioned its submission before parliament. It was also intended to urge government to speedily implement the SADC Commission of Inquiry recommendations, which included parliamentary and security reforms.

“We were seeking the safe return of two opposition MPs, Mokherane Tsatsanyane and Chalane Phori, who are also living in exile in South Africa. However, the motion will no longer see the light of day. We tried to have the motion amended after we discovered it had been edited but unfortunately, our attempt did not sit well with government MPs who bluntly told us they would not support us for as long as it included a call for the SADC Inquiry recommendations to be implemented,” said Mr Mohapi.

Mr Mohapi added further attempts to have the motion amended were frustrated by among others, Lesotho Congress for Democracy MP Thabang Pheko.

“They told me that the problem was the amendments I had made to the motion which were about granting amnesty to the detained soldiers and the return of exiled soldiers and the implementation of the SADC recommendations.

“After this, we decided to withdraw the motion.”

He said the decision to have the motion withdrawn came after consultation with the exiled leaders.

“We found that if the motion went ahead, we would be left with an ad hoc committee whose work was going to favour the government.

“We also realized we would be party to delays in the implementation of the SADC  recommendations by the government if the motion went ahead.

“The government would end up having a good reason to seek more time to implement the SADC recommendations under the pretense of letting the ad hoc committee complete its mandate.”

However, Mr Pheko denied Mr Mohapi’s allegations.

“The Business Committee’s function is to set the business of parliament. I don’t know whether claims by Mohapi are fair or not. But the motion was processed and placed on the order paper in parliament and I even declared my support to Rapapa.

“But when it went into the house it appeared there was an amendment to the motion which included the SADC Inquiry report and how the same report’s recommendations can be speedily implemented. However when the motion was supposed to be discussed the Speaker told the house the motion had been withdrawn,” said Mr Pheko.

Mr Pheko further noted he later learnt the decision to withdraw the motion came as a result of fear by the opposition that government parties wanted to support it for ulterior motives.

“But we harbored no hidden agendas. All we wanted was to assist them but they had their fears and ended up withdrawing the motion. Maybe we could have scared them when we were heckling them from the floor.

“In fact, Mohapi and Majentse (referring to ABC Malimong MP Leshoboro Mohlajoa) told us they knew we had a hidden agenda if we supported the motion hence their decision to withdraw it,” said Mr Pheko.

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