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Metsing off to Mozambique and Botswana 

 

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing leaves for Mozambique today to meet with President Filipe Nyusi in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

The Sunday Express could not immediately establish the agenda of the meeting, which is scheduled for Maputo this afternoon.

After engaging Mr Nyusi, the deputy premier is expected to fly to Gaborone for another meeting tomorrow with SADC chairperson and Botswana President Ian Khama.

It was also not immediately clear what the two leaders are going to discuss in the Gaborone meeting.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Motumi Ralejoe, could not be drawn to give details of the meetings, which he said were “routine” SADC gatherings.

Mr Metsing, he added, would be standing in for Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in the two meetings.

Dr Mosisili left the country on Friday for a weeklong holiday in India and Mr Metsing would be Acting Prime Minister in his absence.

Asked whether the meetings would discuss Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi’s report into Lesotho’s security situation, which Dr Mosisili tabled in Parliament on 8 February, Mr Ralejoe said: “Like I said, these are routine meetings where anything can be discussed. The report is not the agenda but that does not prevent the leaders from discussing it.”

A SADC Double Troika communiqué issued last month in Gaborone urged the Lesotho government to implement the recommendations of the report, compiled following an investigation by a 10-member Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Phumaphi of Botswana.

However, Dr Mosisili told parliament when he tabled the report that its recommendations were not binding. Dr Mosisili emphasized that government would only implement those recommendations it considered implementable—an announcement analysts suggested could set Lesotho on a collision course with the regional body, which established the Phumaphi commission at the prime minister’s request.

The Sunday Express’ repeated efforts to get a comment from Mr Metsing were fruitless last night.

On the other hand, the leader of the opposition in parliament, Thomas Thabane, yesterday said he was surprised that Dr Mosisili had gone on leave “at this critical time for Lesotho.”

“This needs some serious analysis. It is quite surprising that the whole Prime Minister can decide to go on holiday in India at this critical time for Lesotho,” Dr Thabane said from Ficksburg in South Africa where he has been living since he fled Lesotho in May last year after claiming some members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) were out to kill him.

“He has just tabled the SADC report which comes with crucial recommendations and he decides to leave the situation as it is with his junior (Mr Metsing). He should be the one attending these meetings not his junior.”

Among some of the key recommendations of the Phumaphi report is the dismissal of LDF commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli and security reforms.

 

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