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Metsing accused of setting police on challenger

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)’s secretary general, Mothetjoa Metsing, is accused of setting the police on his challenger during the ruling party’s primary elections.
Khomoatsana Tau, permanent secretary in the Natural Resources Ministry, was contesting against Metsing in the Mahobong Constituency primary election.
Metsing, who is also the Minister of Communications, is the incumbent MP for the constituency.
Tau says he could have won the November 20 election had Metsing not “thrown banana peels in his path”.
A bitter Tau told the Sunday Express on Tuesday that Metsing set the police on him minutes before the election.
He says this was done under the pretext that he was disrupting the elective conference and was “being unruly”.
He however says his “real crime” was to question why the constituency committee was going ahead with the election when there was a court order that had ordered that the poll be cancelled.
He alleges that at Metsing’s instigation two police officers bundled him, together with his four supporters, out of the elective conference.
The police officers then dragged him out of the premises and the election proceeded without him.
When the results were announced Metsing emerged the victor with more than 200 votes to Tau’s 60.
But Tau says he will not give up until “justice is served”.
He has since written a letter of complaint to the party’s national executive committee but says he is not sure how it will “pan out” because the committee is headed by Metsing, the same man he is complaining about.
Tau also alleges that he was harassed in the presence of the Leribe District Police Commander, Sello Mosili, and former Ombudsman Sekara Mafisa.
On that Sunday afternoon, Tau explains, Metsing arrived at the conference escorted by the police who had come to provide security during the election.
Tau claims that before the conference started a group of LCD members brought a court order that said the primary election could not proceed because there were irregularities at branch and sub-branch level.
That court order, Tau says, was received by the constituency committee outside the conference hall.
“Ntate Mafisa read out the court order which had been sought by Mahobong LCD members who wanted the election to be scrapped on grounds that they had been denied the opportunity to vote at both sub-branch and branch levels,” Tau said.
“Mafisa however said that the order indicated that the election could continue but that the outcome should not be endorsed until existing grievances have been attended to”.
Tau says when he got into the conference hall he realised that the election was about to start and asked if the delegates had been informed about the court order the leadership had just received but nobody listened to him.
“If anything, what I said seemed to anger Metsing. He then went outside to speak to some members of the constituency committee.”
He says after Metsing spoke to the constituency committee two police officers came and ordered him to come out of the hall.
When he refused the two officers started “barking orders with serious expressions on their faces”.
Tau says for the sake of peace he decided to comply.
“It was when I got outside that I found Ntate Metsing with Ntate Mosili and the constituency chairman.”
Metsing then allegedly proceeded to read out a clause from the LCD constitution that says the constituency chairperson has the authority to eject unruly delegates from a conference.
Tau claims that thereafter he was ordered by the chairman to leave the premises without “an opportunity to explain myself.”
“Metsing was now angry and giving orders to the police officers that I be escorted out of the premises as I no longer qualified to be there, along with four other people.”
When he tried to negotiate with the police officers they told him they were simply doing their job.
“They dragged me out of the premises and made sure that I was more than 30m away from the venue. My group followed suit.
“I was shocked the election had continued without me. The best that can happen is if primary elections in Mahobong are started from scratch.”
Mosili confirmed the incident but denied Tau’s allegation that Metsing had set the police on him.
“It was not Ntate Metsing who called the police to chase Tau out of the conference”, Mosili said adding that “it was the chairman who did that, using the power bestowed on him by the LCD constitution”.
“They (Tau and his group) were refusing to leave and the police had no alternative but to force them out in line with the LCD constitution.”
On Wednesday afternoon Metsing said he had nothing to do with Tau’s ejection from the conference.
“I am not the one who called the police. No one individual has the power to instruct the police to execute their duties. Any decision taken by the police is based on the situation at hand,” Metsing said.
He said it was necessary for the police to be at the Mahobong primary election as some people had tried to disrupt the branch and sub-branch elections.

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