Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Lesotho Congress for Democracy Acting Secretary General, Tšeliso Mokhosi, yesterday gave conflicting statements regarding last week’s visit by Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The South African vice-president arrived in the country on Thursday evening and the following day held meetings with Lesotho Defence Force Acting Commander Major General Khoantle Motšomotšo, Lesotho Mounted Police Service Acting Commissioner Masupha Masupha, Ministry of Police Principal Secretary (PS) Refiloe Matekane, Defence Ministry PS Thato Mohasoa, Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka, Independent Electoral Commission officials, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Chief ‘Maseribane.
Mr Mokhosi told the Sunday Express that after LCD leader Mr Metsing had complained about Dr Thabane’s recent appointment of Advocate Kananelo Mosito as the Court of Appeal president, as well as the premier’s promotion of Senior Superintendent Holomo Molibeli to Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Ramaphosa had allegedly said these should not be effected.
“The issue of appointing the President of the Appeal Court is not urgent because already, there is an acting president of that court. We have to focus on having a conducive environment for free and fair elections on 28 February and this is what was put across to Mr Ramaphosa, who then said the two appointments should not be confirmed,” Mr Mokhosi said.
However, Chief ‘Maseribane later told the Sunday Express that it was not true that Mr Ramaphosa had nullified the appointments of Advocate Mosito and Mr Molibeli.
“In yesterday’s meeting with Mr Ramaphosa, the government was represented by the Prime Minister, Dr Thabane and myself. To my knowledge, Advocate Mosito would be sworn-in as Court of Appeal president this coming Tuesday.
“Furthermore, claims by Mokhosi that former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili met Mr Ramaphosa alongside Metsing are also not true.
“Mokhosi is just trying to fight his leader’s political battle by spreading lies about Mr Ramaphosa’s visit.”
When the Sunday Express returned to Mr Mokhosi and asked him about Chief ‘Maseribane’s response, he reiterated his earlier statement, insisting: “Let’s just wait and see who is telling the truth and if this swearing-in ceremony is going to take place on Tuesday as ‘Maseribane is saying.
“We really don’t mind if the next government could decide to appoint Ntate Mosito as President of the Appeal Court. We are just puzzled by the timing of the appointment by Thabane. Why the rush?”
On his part, PS Matekane said he informed Mr Ramaphosa that Mr Molibeli’s appointment was to fill a gap within the police structure.
“It is true that there had been complaints that the appointment of DCP Holomo was violating the Electoral Pledge signed by political party leaders on 11 December 2014, that there should be no such high-profile appointments and dismissals in state institutions, and that it was a move to boot out Acting Commissioner of Police Masupha Masupha.
“Normally, the police have four deputy commissioners and before DCP Molibeli’s appointment, there was only one Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police and this created a huge deficit in the operations of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service,” Mr Matekane said.
According to Mr Matekane, Mr Ramaphosa was “satisfied” with the explanation and the matter was put to rest.
Contacted for comment, Mr Mphaka said Mr Mokhosi had “no authority to say anything concerning the appointment of anyone by the government because he is a minister not the Government Secretary.
“He was not even part of the meeting with Ntate Ramaphosa, so I am warning him to work around his ministerial territory and stop engaging in things that he doesn’t know anything about,” Mr Mphaka said.
“The appointment of Advocate Mosito is within the law and swearing him in is just ceremonial. And it is true that his swearing in ceremony is going to be held on Tuesday at 10am,” Mr Mphaka added.
Meanwhile, following his meeting with the IEC, Mr Ramaphosa pledged to help the Commission deliver a credible election.
Basotho hold snap elections on 28 February 2015 following the collapse of the coalition government led by Dr Thabane.
Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, Chief ‘Maseribane’s Basotho National Party and the LCD led by Mr Metsing formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012general election had failed to produce an outright majority winner.
However, a power-struggle between Dr Thabane and Mr Metsing led to the collapse of the alliance, prompting SADC to appoint Mr Ramaphosa to facilitate the holding of an early election next month.