Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was behind last year’s hostilities between the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) which cost Lesotho M150million, says Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki.
According to Mr Moleleki, the money had been pledged by the European Union (EU) to ensure Lesotho successfully hosted Amani Africa II in November last year.
Amani Africa II is a training exercise introduced by the African Union (AU) to create a standby African peacekeeping force.
Addressing scores of textile factory workers in Maputsoe on Friday, Mr Moleleki said hostilities between the LDF and LMPS had resulted in the training exercise being postponed, thereby not only depriving the country of the EU funding but also depriving local businesses and the tourism industry of spinoffs that would have come from hosting the exercise.
Mr Moleleki told the workers the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader’s “meddling” in the army and police had resulted in the country’s instability, forcing the postponement of Amani Africa II.
The EU had pledged to provide 5.2 million euros to cover expenses, but it is no longer certain if Lesotho would still host the training, Mr Moleleki said.
“Hosting all those soldiers from across the continent would have brought us huge economic benefits as they were going to be booked into our hotels and other businesses were going to benefit from those visitors.
“But because of Thabane’s actions, which resulted in tensions between the army and police, and Lesotho being declared unstable, the AU ended-up saying Amani II can’t be held in Lesotho. When the AU withdrew the offer for Lesotho to host the Amani II exercise, we automatically forfeited the EU’s M150 million financial support,” said Mr Moleleki.
The former Natural Resources minister, who was on the campaign trail for next month’s snap elections prompted by the midstream collapse of the Thabane-led government, further accused the premier of bringing Lesotho’s reputation into disrepute through this “debacle”. Mr Moleleki urged the textile workers to vote for the DC to ensure stability returns to Lesotho once again.
Mr Moleleki further alleged ABC members had lost confidence in their own leader following his short-lived “chaotic” premiership and also “problems” in his personal life.
According to Mr Moleleki, Lesotho had also lost its lofty status internationally after Dr Thabane failed to honour agreements he had signed, which included the Windhoek and Pretoria declarations brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in an effort to save the coalition government.
“We lost a great opportunity to be the Southern African Development Community Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chair as a result of the political instability Thabane caused in our country through his dictatorial tendencies.
“Thabane tainted our country’s image and we need to fire him as prime minister,” Moleleki said.
Contacted yesterday over Amani Africa II, Defence Ministry Principal Secretary, Thato Mohaso, told the Sunday Express he was not aware of any financial pledge the EU had made towards supporting Lesotho’s hosting of the exercise.
Mr Mohaso said he was surprised Mr Moleleki was accusing Dr Thabane of causing the country’s political and security instability when he and his party were to blame for “meddling in the affairs of the LDF”.
“To my knowledge, there was never such a pledge from the EU. However, Basotho should know we failed to host Amani II because Ntate Moleleki and his DC was meddling in the affairs of the army. SADC decided to withdraw Lesotho as a candidate due to the protracted political and security instability in the country,” Mr Mohasoa said.
“One of the main reasons for taking away Amani II was the 30 August 2014 raid of police stations by the army. And if you analyse why this happened, you will realise that our politicians interfered in military affairs, hence this Amani II loss,” Mohasoa said.
Meanwhile, Mr Moleleki also took a swipe at Dr Thabane for failing to deliver on his pre-2012 general elections to raise textile workers’ monthly salaries to M2020. Mr Moleleki told the workers that the DC government would never pledge such an “unrealistic wage”, but promised them a “living wage” should his party, which failed to retain after the May 2012 polls, form the next government .
Mr Moleleki further said a DC-led government would ensure an “enabling environment” for business to flourish and that “many” jobs are created to reduce the country’s prevailing high unemployment rate.
He also said the DC would ensure paid maternity leave as opposed to the existing labour code order of 1992, which does not provide for such a “right”.
“In addition to paid maternity leave, we are also going to make sure there is pension for all the workers,” he said.