Chief Theko tears into Mosisili as nation bids farewell to Mahao
Maseru Principal Chief Khoabane Theko yesterday tore into Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his government as he addressed thousands of mourners attending the funeral of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao in Mokema.
Chief Theko said the premier was to blame for the fatal shooting of Brigadier Mahao on 25 June 2015 by LDF members who had come to arrest him for allegedly being part of a mutiny plot in the army.
According to Chief Theko, the decision by Dr Mosisili to reinstate Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as LDF commander in May this year was the reason why the nation was now bidding farewell to one of its favourite sons. Lt Gen Kamoli was fired by then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in August last year and replaced by Lt Gen Mahao, but Dr Mosisili nullified the promotion and dismissal after he regained power following the 28 February 2015 snap elections.
Chief Theko said not only did this development “create problems” for Lesotho, it also embarrassed King Letsie III who had endorsed Dr Thabane’s decisions but was made to reverse them by Dr Mosisili.
According to Chief Theko, it was also shocking to hear the LDF openly admit its members had killed Brigadier Mahao just outside his farm in Mokema.
“It was shocking and painful to hear the LDF admit that it carried out an operation to kill an asset of this country for nothing.
“Maaparankoe was always articulate no-matter the subject under discussion. He was principled and humble and above all, a selfless man who always put the interests of Basotho first before his own.
“We were involved with SADC (Southern African Development Community)’s facilitation for peace and stability to return to Lesotho since September 2014 until March 2015 when the Mission closed its offices in Maseru.
“I was always telling SADC Facilitator (Deputy President of South Africa) Cyril Ramaphosa that if our security challenge was not addressed, it would get out of control one day.
“Ntate Ramaphosa was always overlooking the security issue and would tell me that Basotho were going to resolve their security problems on their own.
“To my surprise, Ntate Ramaphosa acted shocked after Lt Gen Mahao’s death, claiming that he and SADC had warned Ntate Mosisili against reinstating Kamoli.
“That reinstatement didn’t only embarrass His Majesty but the whole Basotho nation. Addressing Mahao as Brigadier was also meant to humiliate the King for his decision to promote Maaparankoe to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointing him Commander.
“Ntate Mosisili thought he was disappointing Maaparankoe by dismissing him as LDF Commander on 22 May 2015, while in-fact, he was making a very big mistake. This man is embarrassing the nation because the security situation in the country clearly shows that he might not be in control of the government he is supposed to be leading,” Chief Theko said.
However, Chief Theko said it was also not surprising that Dr Mosisili’s government was “failing” because it comprised “people who do not qualify to be in office” because they were not chosen by the electorate.
“Ntate Mosisili’s coalition partners are silent and can’t even give him advice on how to resolve this security crisis we are in because they were not supposed to be in power in the first place. They had no constituencies that gave them the mandate to rule this nation after the elections.”
Chief Theko called on Lt Gen Kamoli’s removal as LDF commander “with immediate effect” for allegedly failing to provide the required leadership in the army.
“If the LDF was in the hands of principled soldiers like Maaparankoe Mahao and others like him, we wouldn’t be where we are today. That moshanyana (boy) called Kamoli should be brought under control and removed from office with immediate effect if we are too have peace and stability in Lesotho,” Chief Theko said, while also urging the premier and his coalition government allies to change their ways “for democracy’s sake”.
The visibly irate Principal Chief further warned the coalition that “cowards die many times before their actual death”, as he urged the seven-party government comprising Dr Mosisili’s DC, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and National Independent Party (NIP), to ensure effective leadership.
“We are aware that in addition to the three opposition leaders who fled the country in May this year fearing for their lives, the President of the Appeal Court, Justice Kananelo Mosito is also a victim of death threats.
“We now know your mission Ntate Mosisili; you want to remove Justice Mosito and replace him with Justice Michael Ramodibedi who was recently facing criminal charges in Swaziland. What kind of leadership example are you setting?”
Chief Theko also said Lesotho did not need any constitutional and security reforms if they were not done for the sake of peace and stability but “certain interests of politicians who don’t want to vacate positions in government”.
Meanwhile, in addition to Chief Theko, several other speakers also addressed the mourners yesterday and had nothing but praise for the late Brigadier. Among the speakers was Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, the Principal Chief of Mokhotlong Mathealira Seeiso, who was representing King Letsie III who could not make it to the funeral as he had left for Ethiopia yesterday morning, the deceased’s close friend Khopotso Liphoto, Advocate Tumisang Mosoto who spoke on behalf of the lawyers present at the funeral, and the deceased’s brother Mahao Mahao. There was no-one who spoke on behalf of government after the Mahao family rejected an offer of a State-assisted funeral.
The deceased’s wife, ‘Mamphanya, also gave a brief speech, calling her husband “a hero and a real soldier”.
“He was a soldier, and LDF members were supposed to be here to give him a military burial. But since they now considered him an enemy, they turned their backs on him. They first turned their backs on him when they suspended him and put him through a Court Martial in February last year and again when our home was attacked on 30 August last year. But since he was a brave man, he managed to survive the attack.
“Despite this treatment by the LDF, I still consider my husband a hero and a real soldier,” ‘Mamphanya said, adding her husband’s death had not destroyed her because of prayer.
“My husband’s death has not destroyed me because of prayer; his death is actually making me stronger,” she said.
Brigadier Mahao’s three sons aged 16, 12 and six years also gave brief speeches at the funeral, saying the absence of their father was making them feel “lost” and that they would forever miss him.
The youngest, who spoke last, had the shortest message of them all, simply saying “I LOVE YOU DAD”, sparking a torrent of tears from the thousands of mourners from all walks of life who had come to bid farewell to the late soldier.