DEMOCRATIC Congress Youth League President Thuso Litjobo has called on Police Minister Monyane Moleleki to fire Maseru Urban District Police Commissioner, Senior Superintendent Motlatsi Mapola, for allegedly disrespecting the minister.
Mr Litjobo’s remarks, which were made during Thursday’s National University of Lesotho (NUL) students protest march against alleged government corruption, were made after Snr Supt Mapola dragged Mr Moleleki to the High Court over his decision to sanction the demonstration.
In granting the permit, Mr Moleleki had overruled Snr Supt Mapola who had initially declined to give the students the permit.
Mr Moleleki’s decision was challenged in the High Court by Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa and Attorney-General King’s Counsel (KC) Tšokolo Makhethe in an urgent application before Justice Molefi Makara. However, the court ruled against the applicants and declared Commissioner Letsoepa and KC Makhethe did not have the legal right to sue the minister.
The students’ grievances included demands for Finance Minister Dr ‘Mamphono Khaketla to step down over alleged corruption in the controversial awarding of the government vehicle fleet tender to South African company Bidvest Bank Limited. Apart from calling for the rescission of the contract, the students also demanded an upward review of their allowances.
Addressing thousands of NUL students, who were also joined by ordinary Basotho and members of civil society organisations, Mr Litjobo said Snr Supt Mapola should be fired “forthwith”.
“It has come to our attention that there are always hurdles regularly whenever you demand your student stipends. It is time we remove all hurdles,” Mr Litjobo said.
“I am duty bound to tell you that the Maseru Urban Police had denied you a permit to hold this demonstration. You should know the truth that a police officer manning the Maseru Urban Police called Ntate Mapola denied you a permit to hold this demonstration.”
“Mokola (Mr Moleleki), fire the officer, fire the officer, fire him, fire him, fire, fire, fire,” chanted Mr Litjobo as the students joined in to call for Snr Supt Mapola’s dismissal.
Mr Litjobo said Basotho were not supposed to “live in fear because of one person”.
“The police minister of this country was disrespected by Ntate Mapola. Listen carefully because you are not alone in your struggle for change,” he said.
“We are with you, and I urge you all to fight till the last drop of your blood.”
Mr Litjobo said the youths were now united against corruption and said the scourge had derailed the country’s development and, in the process, contributed to the current high unemployment rate.
“Corruption has derailed development and darkened the future of the youth. We are aware that many students have completed their degrees in different fields of study and many continue to further their studies.
“However, we know that you are faced with a challenge of getting jobs after completing your studies and you end up joining the endless list of the unemployed youths,” he added.
In her remarks, Basotho National Party Youth League President Machere Seutloali lambasted Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili forhis statement during the country’s 50th independence anniversary to the effect that it was better for Basotho to misgovern themselves than be governed well by outsiders.
“We have clearly said that the prime minister should be aware that today is unlike the past,” she said.
“Honourable prime minister, it was unfortunate for you to have made such an irresponsible statement that it is better to misgovern ourselves than to be governed well by others. Were you applauding yourself for misgoverning us?” Ms Seutloali asked rhetorically.
“We are tired of your government and you for being proud that you are misgoverning us. You should step down because you said it yourself. You have failed to invest in the future of this country, in the youths.”
For his part, Transformation Resource Centre’s (TRC) Programmes Manager, Mabusetsa Lenka called for the prosecution and imprisonment of corrupt leaders.
He said the TRC was concerned about the government’s failure to implement a law requiring all public officers to declare their interests and assets.