Claims that I faked terrible illness insulting – Moleleki
Democratic Congress deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki, speaks about his illness and the ‘malicious’ gossip that he has been faking it to avoid standing trial for alleged corruption. He also speaks about his party’s prospects in the upcoming general election as well as his archenemy, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki, appeared to be on his deathbed early this year when shocking images of the once chubby, afro-haired and moustached, but now heavily emaciated former Natural Resources minister appeared in the media.
Mr Moleleki (63) appeared so ill the rumour mill went into overdrive, and at some point, some of the mongers suggested he had passed away at a hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa. However, Mr Moleleki would prove the detractors wrong time and again through brief public appearances, but was still not healthy enough to appear in the High Court where he was facing charges of allegedly corruptly facilitating the awarding of three mining licences to a Mafeteng-based firm. He is charged alongside the four directors of the company. But after the Prosecution had questioned a doctor’s note stating Mr Moleleki had tonsillor cancer and was too ill to stand trial, the presiding judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, on 7 May 2014, took the unprecedented decision to visit the former minister at his Qoatsaneng home to verify the medical report.
On his return, Justice Monaphathi, who had been accompanied to Mr Moleleki’s home by crown and defence counsel, assistant registrars, and interpreters, indicated the DC deputy leader was indeed, not feeling well, leading to postponements and more postponements of the trial.
However, when the Maseru Facilitation Declaration was signed at Lesotho Sun Hotel on Thursday, Mr Moleleki was among the party leaders who inked the agreement aimed at bringing back stability to the kingdom, following the collapse of the two-year-old coalition government led by Prime Minister (PM) Thomas Thabane. Mr Moleleki’s trademark hairdo and moustache were back as he took his place at the signing of the SADC-brokered agreement, which among others, is supposed to see Parliament being reopened on 17 October 2014; dissolved during the first week of December, and general elections held in February 2015. Mr Moleleki’s appearance sparked public debate once more, with suggestions he had been faking the illness all along to avoid standing trial.
On Friday, the Sunday Express spent one hour with the very frail Mr Moleleki at his office at Parliament, during which he spoke about his illness, the DC, the Maseru Facilitation Declaration, and of-course, his archenemy, PM Thabane.
SE: We realised when you appeared for yesterday’s signing of the Maseru Facilitation Declaration that you looked much, much better from the way you appeared earlier this year. However, your public appearance has sparked debate that you were never ill in the first place, but faking it to avoid standing trial. How do you respond to this?
Moleleki: Let me start with the faking business. It isn’t easy to fake serious illness; I can refer you to a series of specialists who are in charge of my treatment in Bloemfontein. They are all specialists in specific fields of cancer-treatment; one is an oncologist, the other is a surgeon and another one is a specialist in radiotherapy. In fact, I have undergone all three major known procedures for cancer-treatment, and all have devastating side-effects. I have suffered all the devastating chemotherapy side-effects: nausea, hair coming off but always growing back in time, fatigue you have never experienced in your life, complete confusion of taste-buds which I have not yet recovered, lack of appetite.
I have undergone, three long months of radiotherapy. It is nuclear laser power. When they introduce it on one side of your neck, it comes out the other side. And the people who treat you run out of the treatment room as soon as they tie you to the table; they run for dear life and stand behind thick walls made of steel and they leave you there for the cancer cells to burn.
So it is irresponsible to suggest I could fake such serious illness. One of the therapies that are known to everyone who knows rudimentary cancer is that they cut off your breast, they cut off a part of your body which is infected. And they have cut off a part of my body, typical tissues which were most seriously affected. You can still see the cut in my neck here, behind the ear. You can’t fake such operation either. If anybody says you were faking, it simply means they hate you and would like to see you dead. So it is insulting, very unkind for anybody to suggest I could have faked that terrible illness. I’m now in remission, as you can see. Look at how thin I am now. And if I could take off my shirt, you would be in tears, yet I’m a much better than I was three months ago.
I was virtually dead. So for anyone to suggest that I was faking that condition shows how unkind our people can be for political reasons and how low they can sink to try to prove a political point. If the TV pictures showed the Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane) with me chatting at the signing ceremony, people could have seen us locked in conversation, and interestingly, one of the mobile phones on the table was not switched off. And as we were talking, he was saying; can you believe now my brother, that’s the Prime Minister talking, that a man would only die when God wills him to die? When I came out, people were telling me that the microphone was not off and they could hear the conversation we were holding with the Prime Minister. And now somebody says I was faking it when his leader was saying to me, that can you see that you will only die when God wishes it?
The mobile phone was switched on and we were heard by many people as it was connected to a radio station. So my brother, there is no way I could have faked this.
SE: So what about the corruption charges you are facing?
Moleleki: Those were not genuine criminal charges; they were politically motivated weapons trained on me by my political opponents. They started at the first cabinet meeting of the coalition government. Now that they have fallen out with his erstwhile friends in the LCD, people are coming to me and have said at the first cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister said he was going to send me to jail. And that is a fact. But people are not sent to jail by prime ministers but the police, prosecutors, investigators and judges.
He has always publicly charged that I was guilty of corruption and that I have been taking money from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. But not a single charge has been laid against me, not even a single charge for diamond theft, even though he has been telling people at his rallies that if they search my afro-hair, they will find that it is concealing the diamonds that I have stolen. So all the charges were politically motivated. He was just after his political opponents.
SE: But why you specifically? What could the PM have against you that he would want you jailed as you say?
Moleleki: I am the only one who is the deputy leader of the DC. There are no two of us. In other words, I am saying he believes his next arch-rival is no longer Ntate Mosisili but myself. You cannot put me in the same category as my other colleagues, as none of them are deputy leaders of the DC. The DC is the clear threat to Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) any day, hence why he is picking on me. We have a saying in my language that if you want to kill a snake, go for its head. And he perceives us as a snake, a terrible viper, to himself and his party. The DC is perceived by Ntate Thabane as a terrible viper! He sees me to be the head of that viper. So that is the only reason I can suggest. I’m not in his head but I think I understand now how he thinks. So from a political perspective, I think that’s how he thinks.
SE: We have heard you say the fight against corruption by government should not be selective. Could you expand on this?
Moleleki: I do this with a great deal of reluctance but I’m going to respond to it, anyway. The charges against me remain sub-judice. But what I can say is that in a very telling way, the first summons that were given to Ntate Metsing (on 31 July 2014 at Moshoeshoe I International Airport) came after the Windhoek Declaration (that sought to get the three feuding coalition government partners together). Immediately when he landed here, the summons were pressed on him. Why that kind of timing just after you have fallen-out with your erstwhile partner in a coalition government? A very weak coalition. When you fall-out with someone, you threaten him with a charge? Why didn’t the charges come when there was friendship and everything was smooth between them? Why that particular point in time? And trying to humiliate him by giving him the summons at an airport?
SE: So what should have happened in such a high-profile case?
Moleleki: I was not been involved, while still a Minister, in trying to instigate charges or investigations against anyone. Not because I never suspected underhand activities but you don’t, as a Prime Minister or Minister, instruct the police to go after so and so. And Ntate Thabane is on record of publicly pressing the police to charge me. Not on one or two or four occasions, but during almost all the ABC rallies, he has instructed the police to go after me. When he got into office for the first time since we came back to democratic rule, the Prime Minister decided to take both the police and army in his portfolio. And he was instructing them in public and when he said those things against me, he was speaking at his strongest. Go after Moleleki, he is guilty for that and the other. So as a politician, you don’t accuse another politician and instruct the police publicly.
If he can be so careless to give the police such strong instructions publicly, how much more privately? If he can do it so consistently, relentlessly in public, how much more when you call in the Commissioner of Police and other senior police officials privately? He goes on record and it is common knowledge that he has instructed them when he was wearing party colours. He said I am instructing you the police to go after that man. Are you scared of him? Why don’t you try that man? Are you afraid of him?
SE: You say when the premier came into office in June 2012, he took the army and police under his wing. And we have seen the two security agencies having very serious clashes of late. Could this have something to do with their being under one person?
Moleleki: It has everything and not something to do with that very fact. Traditionally, for many years, 15 years or so, the Prime Minister was responsible for internal security and the army and national security services, but this one decided to go for both. And traditionally the Deputy Prime Minister used to be responsible for the police. That was now an established tradition. But he decided to start something else. Now look at the mess. SADC themselves have said to us they perceive both the army and police to have been politicised. That is SADC’s perception, politicisation of both the army and the police. How could they fail to be politicised when they are under the ambit of a man who was so reckless with the use those agencies against his political opponents? How could they fail to be politicised?
In the police force, mind you within 20 months, the man has gone through three different Commissioners. He first confirms this one, then removes him to put someone else. After a few months, he removes him and puts someone else. I don’t know if he was going to do the same with the army. He did it with the police. He was testing this one; can I use this one, then throw him away, then test this one, can I use him, this one is a little bit difficult and he throws him away. He did the same with the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Attorney General (AG). And in the most reckless manner and undemocratic approach. He did it. He also did it with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
So we do not have a problem of corruption. I’m not saying corruption should be tolerated. But if you talk about it, let us all walk the same route. And then you would see who is really corrupt in this country. If we were to follow that, I tell you people would skip this country and disappear and never come back. And I can tell you who will go first. It’s not hard to guess who.
SE: So tell us, who would go first?
Moleleki: (laughter) It’s not hard to guess.
SE: The reasons for these changes have been given out, among them that some of these officials you are talking about had reached retirement age, and others were allegedly partisan and loyal to the previous government of (DC leader) Ntate Mosisili, of which you were a part…
Moleleki: It is regrettable that the Prime Minister has engaged in such a regress and blatant interference with these separated organs of state power. Forcing himself onto each of the three separated organs of state power. I still recall clearly how the President of the Court of Appeal , (Michael) Ramodibedi was processed. I was in government, and I clearly recall that the then outgoing president of the Court of Appeal, Judge Steyn suggested to the Prime Minister of the time that if he was looking for a local Mosotho to man the Court of Appeal, Ramodibedi is the man to go for. It was on the advice of Justice Steyn that he was appointed. Ramodibedi was invited as a junior justice to sit with the judges of the Court of Appeal under the leadership of Justice Steyn. When he got there, as one of the junior judges of the High Court, he excelled and proved himself beyond anyone’s expectations. And when Judge Steyn was retiring, he told Ntate Mosisili that if you are looking for a very good President of the Court of Appeal, it is that young man that we invited to into the Court of Appeal. He was not forced on anyone, the way Thabane is forcing people on everybody. Ramodibedi was never hand-picked by Mosisili; he was invited to sit with the judges of the Court of Appeal. That’s a professional processing of a man.
A similar thing happened with (Tlali) Kamoli when he was appointed Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander; he was suggested by someone else who came before him. He wasn’t forced from party private night meetings like Thabane is trying to do with his own appointees. We are too small a community that everybody knows what everybody is doing at night. And that’s how his people are getting processed. You honestly can’t say you don’t know how (Maaparankoe) Mahao was selected to replace Kamoli, where he was selected and by which group of people.
SE: Kamoli’s dismissal as LDF boss was gazetted on 29 August 2014, but from the DC’s perspective, you have said this cannot happen…
Moleleki: There is a judgement of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho against which you cannot appeal because that is the final court ruling. A judgment from around 2002, where about five senior LDF officers were dismissed without following due process. And the Court of Appeal ruled against Prime Minister Mosisili and His Majesty the King, as this things are done in the name of the King. So they ruled you cannot dismiss these officers without following the appropriate procedure. And they were reinstated into the army, but as if that did not exist, Thabane went to follow exactly the same path that Prime Minister Mosisili who came before him followed. And the judgment of a court where you do not challenge it becomes law. So it is illegal to purport to have removed Kamoli as the Court of Appeal had already pronounced itself that it is illegal, when due process is not followed. Despite that, pretending to have been oblivious of it he went on to remove Kamoli following the same process. That is why foreigners like (South African) Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (who facilitated the Maseru Declaration) are refusing to answer questions about who is the army commander. I’m a citizen and as you can see, I breathe fire. It is my country.
When he prorogued parliament (for nine months on 10 June 2014) as Prime Minister, he was within his constitutional right according to the letter of the constitution, but not the spirit, but letter. But removing Lieutenant General Kamoli was illegal, as was the removal of the DPP, and Attorney General. And he did it with a bunch of police thugs. They came and took the men out of office by force and changed the locks. Now that is brutality at state level.
So the removal of Lt Gen Kamoli was illegal. Now the appointment of Brigadier Mahao was even more illegal. How do you take an army, which is charging someone in an appropriate military court, and before they are finished, you quash their court, promote the man and now how do you expect the man to enter the barracks? That’s courting trouble. The poor man now doesn’t dare set foot anywhere near military barracks, instead he is being driven around in vehicles the same size as the Prime Minister’s. This is disgusting and pathetic. It’s absolutely disgusting.
The illegal removal of Kamoli and illegal promotion of a man who was in the process of a court martial, I can prove. That’s where our problems in Lesotho are starting from. So the foreigners, when they come, are supposed to be seen to be impartial. I’m not impartial; I’ve got a stand. What a mediator will do is try to bring together two opposing sides.
SE: Ramaphosa skirted around the issues of security, yet the major stumbling block towards the opening of Parliament is that of security. The Prime Minister has always said Lt Gen Kamoli’s issues should be resolved first before Parliament can be reopened. So what guarantee do we have now that the premier will reopen Parliament on 17 October as per SADC’s roadmap?
Moleleki: We don’t need a guarantee because none is necessary. The military is not going to suddenly pounce on parliament. Why are they not pouncing on the Prime Minister as he is in his office now? They can’t pounce on him in Parliament. The man was running away from a clear vote-of-no-confidence. And the declaration that we signed yesterday has actually obviated in black-and-white printed writing that we can only speak about this. And this has happened for the first time in Lesotho. To tell a parliament what to discuss and what not to discuss. A vote-of-no-confidence is one of the constitutional rights of a Parliament but look at Number Four on the declaration we signed yesterday. It is a compromise that we are consciously agreeing to. It says the business of Parliament between 17 October and its dissolution in early December will be limited. That is the word used there, limited. Limited to the passing of a budget for the holding of elections and all other election-related matters. The Parliament of Lesotho is limited. It is limited this time around. And I signed that fully cognisant of that. I said: Okay, we are trying to buy peace. But the Parliament business today is going to be limited. So the Prime Minister extracted that concession that limits Parliament and says don’t touch me and my job, otherwise I’m not opening it. This rubbish about a security problem doesn’t exist. I came today to Parliament without any bodyguards or the South African police. Why should the army suddenly pounce on parliamentarians? Why aren’t they not pouncing on them while they are at their homes throughout the country? C’mon; Excuse me, you don’t believe that. There is no security problem of that nature here. The man is afraid of a vote-of-no-confidence, which is the reason for the prorogation in the first place.
But at least he was using a constitutional provision to protect himself. I don’t envy him for that but it is his right; he saw a loophole in our constitution, and boy, we are going to plug such loophole. This is the last time a man escapes using that loophole.
SE: What is the difference between this declaration and the past Windhoek and Pretoria agreements the coalition government partners and compelled them to reopen Parliament but without it reconvening?
Moleleki: I’m asking the same question. Will the man, this time, honour his undertaking? I’m asking the same question. Will the man honour his promise?
SE: So come 17 October, you suspect Parliament might not open?
Moleleki: I think it will open, but it might as well not open and we would only have seen one more time what sort of a man we have in the highly respectable office of Prime Minister. One more time. We saw it after Windhoek, we saw it after Vic Falls and we saw it after Pretoria, and this will be one more time. In a series of undertakings. This one was witnessed by a Deputy President and Deputy Executive Secretary. Excuse me, the previous one was witnessed by Presidents and the man didn’t give a damn about presidential witnessing. Did he? So this will be one more time. There have been three undertaking in three countries, from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, and this will be one more, but it will go one more step in explaining to the people and the world the kind of man we have in that office. So if it doesn’t open, I don’t think many people would be surprised. And they will say, Aha, one more time.
SE: So going forward as the DC, are you confident of winning the election and returning to power, or are you considering forging an alliance of Congress parties and fighting the election in February next year as one party ?
Moleleki: If we were to go on our own, we would do better than we did in 2012, but I’m not confident we would win an outright majority. I think we would do considerably better. Mind you in 2012, our party was only three months to the day, on polling day. We have had two years of growth and I think we would do better. But it is the general spirit and mood amongst all former congress parties and the strands of the old BCP and its derivatives is that we will fight the elections together. And if we do, we would be tight; the right-wingers might win only two or three constituencies but not more than four. That’s my prediction if we fight this election together. The right -wingers like the ABC and BNP will not gain more than four constituencies in total, out of 80. If we try to do it alone, we would do better than we did in 2012, but I’m not sure we would win an outright majority on our own.
SE: So have you discussed joining forces already?
Moleleki: We have not discussed it as yet, but I think all around we see the wisdom of fighting it together, to avoid getting the likes of Ntate Thabane back in that office ever again.
I am saying and I am pronouncing myself that I hope our leadership in all the congress parties see the wisdom of fighting the elections as a united force. And if we fight together I foresee us wining 76 to 78 constituencies out of 80. So the wisdom to me suggests we should contest the elections together if we wish to win it. If we had not split in 2012 into the LCD and DC, we would have won 76 seats against the ABC.
SE: So do you regret the split that happened in 2012?
Moleleki: Very much so, very much so.
SE: Do you believe the electoral model that allows smaller parties access to parliament should be changed?
Moleleki: I think the system we have is very good for Lesotho for stability reasons, because our people are some of the most cantankerous nations. We argue about anything; we are very litigious, we want to take you to court over even the smallest things. Knowing Basotho, I think it is best to have the MMP (Mixed Member Proportional representation) so that we have the best of both worlds.
SE: So what’s the next step, as the DC, as you prepare for the elections?
Moleleki: What we have to do is sit down, and do proper planning. And planning includes talking with the other congress parties and coming up with a joint strategy of how we are going to fight the elections and how we are to field our candidates. Parties would have their platforms. But knowing the congress parties, they have one ideology as they are left wing; our only difference would be personality differences, so we would be having relatively little difference.
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