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Mosisili, Malebo in near fisticuffs

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — Democratic Congress (DC) leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) leader Moeketse Malebo almost came to blows after a heated argument at a meeting organised by church leaders on Wednesday. The Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) had called the meeting with political leaders to discuss the May 26 election and the visit by retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Lesotho. Archbishop Tutu gave the main speech at a prayer meeting organised by the CCL on Friday at Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

The CCL also wanted the political leaders who attended Wednesday’s meeting at the United Nations House in Maseru to sign a pledge to run a peaceful campaign and accept the election result.

Two political leaders who attended the meeting said the clash between Mosisili and Malebo started when they were discussing general security issues related to the election period.

They said hell broke loose after Mosisili reacted angrily when Malebo asked him why his security had been beefed up ahead of the election. Over the past two months Mosisili’s motorcade has included heavily armed soldiers who at times put on balaclavas. There are also more cars in his motorcade. This has raised questions among opposition leaders. At a rally a few weeks ago Basotho National Party leader Thesele ’Maseribane also queried why Mosisili now had more soldiers around him.

The source said after Mosisili’s “rude response” Malebo “just lost it” and accused Mosisili of eating the Lesotho Defence Force “like his personal property”. The source said Malebo told Mosisili that he had no right to treat the army like his and reminded him that if he was beefing up his security because of the election he must do the same for other political leaders because they are all at risk.

“In his remarks Malebo referred to Mosisili as a boy and he (Mosisili) responded by telling Malebo that he was an old man,” the source said.

“They ended up raising voices and not listening to each other. They were pointing fingers at each other. Mosisili repeatedly referred to Malebo as an old man, while Malebo called Mosisili a boy.”

Mosisili was so angry that he challenged Malebo to a fight, he said. “He (Mosisili) said if Malebo wished they could go outside the room and take matters to another level”. The source said Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi who is the head of the Catholic Church in Lesotho was shocked by the drama. “They only stopped after they were reminded that they were mature leaders who should lead by example. We as other political leaders were shocked by the exchange. I swear if those people were left alone they would have fought.” When the two men had calmed down, the church leaders are said to have told the political leaders to “keep the incident amongst themselves”.

“They said what happened must never leave the room” the source added. Malebo however confirmed the incident to a local radio station but said he and Mosisili had since resolved the issue.

This paper could not reach him for a comment yesterday. The DC secretary general, Ralechate ’Mokose, said he could not talk about “our meeting with the clergies because it was a closed meeting where the press was not allowed in.” “I will be betraying the confidence and the trust of the whole Lesotho political leadership and heads of churches if I discuss these things with you,” ’Mokose said. He added that he was amazed that some of the leaders had leaked information about the confrontation between Mosisili and Malebo to the press. What is important to the DC, ’Mokose said, is that the church leaders achieved what they wanted and not what happened during the discussion.

’Mokose said everybody should be grateful to the clergy for their intervention when political party rallies became violent. The CCL invited Archbishop Tutu to talk to Lesotho political party leaders about the importance of keeping peace ahead and after elections. Archbishop Tutu told leaders of 15 parties on Friday that they should not instigate violence during their campaigns. “I appeal to you to work for peace like the founder of the Basotho nation, your first king Moshoeshoe I, who instead of chasing his enemies after defeating them he gave them food

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