- says withdrawal of ministers’ security usually happens when coup is being planned
- threatens legal action against army chief over withdrawal of army guards
BASOTHO National Party (BNP) spokesperson and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Machesetsa Mofomobe, says last week’s temporary withdrawal of soldiers guarding ministers and their deputies on the orders of army commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, is an unusual and dangerous move that has not happened anywhere else in the world.
The outspoken deputy minister said history had shown that whenever the army toppled governments, it began by surrounding the prime minister’s residence, soldiers turning against the ministers and withdrawing those guarding the ministers.
Mr Mofomobe said this is in a recorded audio clip to BNP supporters in the aftermath of Lt-Gen Letsoela’s decision to temporarily withdraw soldiers guarding ministers and their deputies on Tuesday 10 September 2019. The Sunday Express was unable to confirm the authenticity of the audio clip with Mr Mofomobe because in an earlier communication, he said he did not want to speak to this and another local weekly. He did not say why he did not want to speak to the two publications. Last night, the army had still not responded to questions from the Sunday Express regarding Mr Mofomobe’s comments.
Cabinet ministers and their deputies were left without security at their homes after Lt-Gen Letsoela summoned all soldiers in Maseru to an urgent “commander’s mass parade” to diffuse simmering tensions within the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) over salary increments. The commander’s mass parade was held on Tuesday at Makoanyane Barracks.
Although the soldiers returned to their guard duties soon after the parade, Mr Mofomobe says he still had no security and this publication learnt that his guards only returned on Thursday.
The deputy minister, who claims to have a gift of dreaming of and foretelling future events, said the withdrawal of the guards was a sign that “a bad and dangerous situation” would befall the country. He vowed legal action to establish the legality of the army commander’s actions. He also said the “re-emergence” of Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi to speak on behalf of the LDF clearly pointed to the existence of the “re-energised” renegade elements loyal to detained former army boss, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli, “who had always hated” him. He however, said he was not scared of anything and he was prepared to “die for the truth”.
“Greetings to you the nationalists- people I love dearly,” Mr Mofomobe says in the leaked clip. I just wanted to inform you that we had a bad day yesterday (Wednesday). I should from the word go, tell you that I have a God-given gift of seeing things before they happen.
“I knew that guards at one of the ministers’ home had been removed and when that happened, I looked into the future and learnt that there is something bad and dangerous that will befall this country.
“I leant the following morning that other ministers were also without guards and I knew that those are very dangerous acts. These are very dangerous acts in our democratic dispensation, especially when the army is not supposed to be doing that.
“History teaches that in most cases this happens (withdrawal of security) when there are plans to topple governments. Governments can be toppled by surrounding the residence of the prime minister, forcefully taking over the radio station, withdrawing soldiers from (guarding) ministers and soldiers turning against ministers.
“This has happened in many other countries before. It happened in Thailand. It happened in Lesotho. It happened in Zimbabwe when President (Robert) Mugabe was topped and when I look at all these incidents, I realise that this (withdrawal of security) is not normal.”
Although the soldiers returned to their guard duties soon after the parade, Mr Mofomobe said he still had no protection and this publication learnt that his guards only returned on Thursday.
He however, said that he was not scared and he has never feared anything even when there were “cannibals” on the ground.
“Even today I still do not fear a thing but you must remember that this might be the extension of Kamoli’s hatred for me. Kamoli has always hated me and now you see the likes of (Brigadier Ntlele) Ntoi being re-energised. Ntoi is that same person who embarrassed and insulted people.
“You will remember that he embarrassed Lt-Gen (Maaparankoe) Mahao and when you see them being re-energised at a time when I don’t have security, you should know that this is just an extension of Kamoli’s hatred for me. Kamoli’s people are still in the army. The same people who persecuted me day and night are still around but I should assure you that I fear nothing.
“I am not scared at all, I have never been scared in my life and I still don’t fear anyone. I slept peacefully and I will continue to sleep peacefully but what I will not allow is for people to withdraw my security when the law is very clear on that issue.
“I have decided to take the matter to the High Court because the Members of Parliament Benefits Act is very clear that I am entitled to security at all times,” Mr Mofomobe said.
He however, said even if it was granted, the army would not take the court order seriously.
“They (army) laugh at court orders…but I will not be intimidated. Security is one of my benefits and it must be given to me. I did not fear (former Prime Minister Pakalitha) Mosisili. I did not fear (former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa) Metsing. I did not fear Kamoli and I remain unshaken come what may. If it is death, let it be. If it being paralysed, let it be because I will die for the truth…My death will be politically motivated,” Mr Mofomobe said.