MASERU — Acting police commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza has appealed to political party leaders to control their supporters at political rallies. Mhlakaza on Wednesday called party leaders to his office separately and told them that they should ensure that their followers conduct themselves well or risk facing the police’s wrath. The leaders say Mhlakaza was concerned that violent clashes like the one that left 10 people injured and cars damaged at Thetsane Industrial Area during a Democratic Congress (DC) rally recently could be repeated during other political public gatherings.
Mhlakaza is said to have appealed to the leaders to cooperate with the police in controlling supporters at rallies.
The Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) leader, Macaefa Billy told this paper that during his meeting with Mhlakaza, they agreed that political rallies should be put under check. Billy denied that his supporters were involved in the heckling of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili during his recent campaign rallies in Maputsoe and Thetsane. Billy said he told the commissioner that the LWP would not shoulder any blame for heckling Mosisili and the clashes at the DC at Ha-Thetsane last week. “I told him (Mhlakaza) that much as I respect his views that we should control our party followers, the LWP is not apologetic about what happened in Maputsoe and Ha-Thetsane,” he said.
“The LWP never attended Mosisili’s rallies and it cannot be held accountable for their disruption by whoever was behind the disturbances.”
The LWP leader said he also assured Mhlakaza that his party would not cause any trouble for the police at its rallies. Billy said Mosisili was an “unwanted guest who was heckled by his hosts in Maputsoe”. “It is well known that the LWP never hosted Mosisili in Maputsoe and is therefore not responsible for whatever happened to him,” he said. He added that the fact that workers were clad in LWP colours does not mean that they represented the party at Mosisili’s rally. “We have not set any rules on when people should wear our colours. They are free to wear the LWP colours when they go to church, a football match, horserace, any public gathering or even at work.” The All Basotho Convention leader, Thomas Thabane said Mhlakaza told him that it was important for him as a leader to cooperate with the police to control his supporters during rallies.
“I considered Mhlakaza’s concerns as genuine and I pledged to help with all my might to keep the rallies under control,” Thabane said. He however said it is hurting to observe that sometimes the police are abused by “oppressive rulers” to provoke people at peaceful rallies. “I feel pity for them (police),” he said. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) and the Basotho National Party (BNP) are some of the parties whose leaders attended the meetings with Mhlakaza.
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