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Metsing episode highlights bad blood in coalition

Lesotho’s political circus continued its vicious cycle last week — just a week after it appeared the feuding parties in the coalition government had finally found each other after weeks of squabbling and backbiting.
Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s appearance in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on graft charges — which were immediately withdraw by the prosecution — could only signal yet another bitter fallout between him and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, and uncertainty for the coalition administration which has been tottering for the better part of the year.

Dr Thabane has been very vocal in his condemnation of corruption at every level of society and Mr Metsing’s invitation to appear in court could have been a way to press this point home. Yet it was the manner in which the summons to appear in court were handed to Mr Metsing that could be the final straw in this marriage of convenience between the three partners.

Mr Metsing was on his way from Namibia where he had gone together with Dr Thabane and Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader Joang Molapo, to seek guidance on how to take their coalition forward.
But no sooner had the deputy premier stepped onto Lesotho soil than he was slapped with the summons to appear in court the following day, to face corruption charges, alongside five other ‘suspects’.
However, the charges were withdrawn before the trial could even proceed, prompting an angry reaction from Mr Metsing’s party — the Lesotho Congress for Democracy — whose leadership, as well as ordinary members, condemned the court appearance as a calculated move to embarrass their leader.

Metsing himself was equally scathing of the way the case was handled, further sounding the death knell for the peace talks which appeared well on track only a fortnight ago.
“No one in the entire police service can truly say that he or she does not know where I live. It was therefore, uncalled for to be served with summons to appear in court while I had just landed at the airport. The only explanation to what has transpired is nothing but a calculated move to embarrass me. However, the emotional pain that I have been subjected to was to prepare me to become a winner in every political challenge that I am going to face. I was made a sacrifice for Lesotho’s democracy; indeed, someone had to be sacrificed for the benefit of this country’s democracy. And who could that person be other than myself?” Metsing said after he was told the charges had been withdrawn.

However, the party’s deputy spokesperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, was less charitable as he vented his anger on the ABC for allegedly being behind the “vilification” of the LCD as a corrupt party. Mr Mochoboroane’s warning that the ABC should be careful how it treats other party members could only mean an open declaration of war, and a resumption of hostilities, which almost ended Dr Thabane’s premiership just two years into his five year-tenure last month.

That all the strides which had been made in ending the dispute between the three parties could be undone in a single stroke as happened at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport on Thursday, is one of the saddest developments that could have happened to the coalition government since the three parties had decided to work together again last

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