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It’s not over yet: Mokhosi 

 

Billy Ntaote

Lesotho’s congress movement turned Maseru city centre into a carnival on Friday afternoon, as members celebrated the lifting of parliament’s nine-month prorogation which Prime Minister Thomas Thabane imposed on 10 June this year.

Soon after Dr Thabane—who is also leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC)—and his coalition government partners, Thesele ‘Maseribane and Mothetjoa Metsing of the Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) respectively, had met King Letsie III to finalise the lifting of the prorogation which was supposed to end on 27 February 2015, congress party supporters drove and marched around the city centre blaring car-horns, singing and dancing and claiming victory in their fight against the premier.

Dr Thabane had suspended parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote in his premiership by the opposition, led by the Democratic Congress (DC), and supported by the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP).

However, after LCD leader and Deputy Prime Minister Metsing had accused Dr Thabane of making unilateral decisions regarding issues of national significance, among them parliament’s prorogation, several mediators, among them church-leaders, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and South Africa, had tried to help resolve the dispute.

The result of the mediation process was last week’s recommendation by SADC that the prorogation should be lifted, and that parliament must re-open on 19 September.

SADC had also recommended that the three leaders—Dr Thabane, Mr Metsing and Chief ‘Maseribane—whose parties formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012 general election had resulted in a hung parliament, should meet King Letsie III on 5 September and advise him to lift the prorogation, as demanded by the country’s constitution.

It was after this meeting that the congress parties broke into celebration, bringing the city to a complete standstill.

The celebrations started with a procession of vehicles from the DC offices and ended at the LCD complex, where LCD Member of Parliament (MP) Tšoanelo Ramakeoana introduced his party’s Acting Secretary General, Tšeliso Mokhosi, after chanting BCP, LCD, LPC and BBDP slogans.

In his address, Mr Mokhosi told the cheering crowd that congress parties have been on “a journey” over the past few months, adding however, that the struggle was far from over.

“We need to get to a point whereby our rulers obey the people and are governed by the people and not just rule by the elite without obeying those who elected them into office,” Mr Mokhosi thundered.

“What we are going through reminds me of the days when Dr Ntsu Mokhehle (LCD founder) used to call on Basotho to unite and fight for their land. Today, we see signs similar to those Ntate Ntsu faced at that time.”

Mr Mokhosi emphasised that the lifting of parliament’s suspension was crucial in Basotho’s quest for democracy.

“To us, ending the prorogation of parliament is a big deal even if some people can support the suspension by telling us that it is constitutional. Our protest has always been that the section of the constitution that provides for the prorogation was abused.

“For the past three months, we have been protesting that laws cannot be used to oppress the people the way the suspension of parliament in June was doing to the nation,” Mr Mokhosi said.

However, even after the lifting of the prorogation, Mr Mokhosi warned, much more still needed to be done to ensure the rule of law in Lesotho.

“We have not arrived at the point we would want to be; that is why we need to stand up and fight”.

Mr Mokhosi further said news that Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli had been fired as Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander by the prime minister should not be taken seriously.

“Laws are not made to oppress people. How can someone fire the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force at such a critical time? This is meant to disturb our peace as Basotho and for sure, our peace has been disturbed.

“At the same time, we need a Commissioner of Police who would ensure law and order is properly maintained without any discrimination.

“We need a Commander of the army who would observe the country’s constitution and not someone’s own personal interests at the expense of the LDF’s constitutional mandate,” Mr Mokhosi added.

“Leaders of the security agencies should know that they do not owe anyone a favour, and must just do their jobs impartially and ensure the safety of Basotho and Lesotho as a whole.”

Mr Mokhosi, who is also the Minister of Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs, further  called on all congress party members to protest Lt Gen Kamoli’s dismissal, which was gazetted on 29 August 2014.

“We need the right commander who is going to ensure that no Basotho blood is spilled,” Mr Mokhosi said, sparking wild celebrations and calls for Lt Gen Kamoli’s dismissal to be revoked.

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