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Opposition meets in South Africa

Marafaele Mohloboli

EXILED leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing is set to meet all the party’s district committees in Ladybrand today to discuss the direction the party should take with regards to the envisaged multi-sector reforms.

Today’s meetings will be followed up by other meetings tomorrow which shall also be attended by representatives of other opposition parties and the recent suspension of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara is expected to top the agenda.

Today and tomorrow’s meetings were confirmed by the LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, and another senior party official, Mamello Morrison.

“There shall be a meeting in Ladybrand,” Mr Sekata said, adding, “The objective of the meeting is to seek guidance from the party cadres on the direction to take with regards to the envisaged reforms following the concession that he Mr Metsing should come home to take part in the reforms process”.

Mr Metsing has been holed up in South Africa since fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him. The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that he fled to escape prosecution for corruption.

The opposition has set Mr Metsing’s return as one of the preconditions for its participation in the process to implement multi-sector reforms that are aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.

The LCD leader recently spoke of his longing to come back “as soon as possible” to participate in the reforms. He said this in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication.

But not long after stating his desire to return home, Mr Metsing made an about-turn and insisted he would not return until the government had given him safety guarantees. This was despite the government having committed to affording him protection upon his return.

Mr Metsing and the opposition’s about-turn attracted the ire of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders who subsequently urged Mr Metsing to return home and threatened to “take the necessary measures” against any Lesotho politician who delayed the reforms process.

The official SADC leaders’ communique released shortly after their summit in Windhoek, Namibia last month stated that the regional bloc was concerned by the delays in the implementation of the reforms.

“The summit resolved not to entertain any further delays in the implementation of reforms and national dialogue and called upon SADC member states to take necessary measures against those with intentions to delay, or threaten to derail the reforms and the national dialogue processes”.

The SADC leaders’ resolution was followed by an announcement by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Lindiwe Sisulu, that her government would impose a travel embargo and to stop providing refuge to Mr Metsing and other opposition leaders who are seen as frustrating the reforms process.

Ms Sisulu singled out Mr Metsing as one of the politicians who should leave South Africa and take his place alongside other leaders in the reforms process.

“The SADC summit noted with concern that, despite a number of SADC initiatives in the Kingdom of Lesotho, progress on the implementation of the reforms roadmap, and national dialogue remains very slow.

“There will be travel bans and we will adhere to those travel bans. This is something that we would like to convey to all those who are participants in the negotiations around Lesotho because this (delays in implementing the reforms) has gone on for too long. By the time SAMPIL is withdrawn by SADC, we will be leaving Lesotho in a very vulnerable situation if we have not achieved peace there.

“So, we will put pressure to the extent that is lawful; to the extent that it assists in the resolution of the Lesotho problem. We will not take Metsing to the border but we will expect him to go to the border. He has a responsibility to go back (to Lesotho). He has a responsibility to lead his people who are in the opposition,” Ms Sisulu said.

Meanwhile, Ms Morrison said the LCD will tomorrow meet other opposition parties to discuss the opposition’s stance on various issues of governance, with the suspension of Justice Majara expected to top the agenda.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane indefinitely suspended Justice Majara from office with effect from 11 September 2018.

The suspension paves way for a three-member tribunal to try Justice Majara over a litany of misconduct charges including her alleged failure to ensure the timeous delivery of justice.

His Majesty King Letsie III, acting on the advice of Prime Minister Thabane, has since appointed High Court judge, Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase, as the acting Chief Justice. King Letsie III has also appointed three experienced judges from Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to the tribunal to hear the misconduct charges against Justice Majara.

The suspension comes after Justice Majara had successfully petitioned the courts to interdict Dr Thabane from both suspending her and setting up the tribunal to investigate her.

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