MASERU — Finance Minister Timothy Thahane has allegedly received death threats over the MKM saga, the Sunday Express can reveal.
Thahane is allegedly being targeted because he is perceived as a stumbling block in efforts to bail out MKM, a pyramid scheme that crashed in November 2007 and left more than 300 000 clients stranded.
MKM is trying to fend off looming liquidation in both the courts of law and government corridors.
A special audit ordered by the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) revealed that MKM had lost M300 million of the M400 million it received from depositors.
Thahane yesterday told the Sunday Express that although the matter was still being resolved by the courts there seemed to be a group of people who believed his “removal” would speed up the resolution of the MKM saga.
These people, Thahane said, were now threatening him and his family with death.
He said he had been warned to be careful.
“The threats are gathering momentum. It’s a very serious thing,” Thahane said.
“There are people who say Thahane is the one blocking the MKM bail-out even though they are fully aware of the fact that the case is in the courts.
“They are saying if you remove Thahane then you get your MKM money.”
Thahane could not reveal whether these alleged threats had been made through phone calls, direct confrontation, letters or visits to his home.
He however said the law-enforcement agents were aware of the threats to his life.
“They (threats) have been building up and I have been warned,” the minister said.
Thahane said he recently met MKM director Simon Thebe-ea-khale to discuss the alleged threats that he had been receiving.
He said Thebe-ea-khale told him that “he too has been receiving similar threats from some people”.
“They are lying to the people that I am the one blocking their money,” Thahane said.
He said All Basotho Convention MP Libe Moremoholo was one of the people trying to portray him as the main “impediment” to a proposed MKM bail-out.
“In his campaign Moremoholo says I am an obstacle,” Thahane said.
“It is therefore possible that an angry person can rise against me as a result of such a campaign.”
On Friday, Moremoholo led a group that petitioned Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to help resolve the MKM saga.
The petitioners included other opposition MPs, supporters and MKM depositors.
In the petition, received by acting government secretary Bataung Leleka on behalf of the prime minister, Moremoholo and his group alleged that Thahane was blocking a bail-out plan for MKM because he had a personal vendetta against the troubled company.
The petitioners alleged that Thahane was reluctant to facilitate the proposed bail-out because he was bitter that at one time MKM had beaten him in a bid to buy the Agricultural Bank building in Maseru.
“There is an allegation that the minister (Thahane) appears on the list of people who tendered for the Agricultural Bank building in which MKM managing director (Simon) Thebe-ea-khale won the bid,” the petition charged.
“This makes one to conclude that honourable Thahane cannot address MKM’s affairs fairly because there is conflict of interest on his part.”
Thahane has failed to resolve the MKM saga, the petition said.
“Honourable minister Thahane should be excused from MKM issues since he already announced that he had failed to solve the problem until the Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla intervened.”
The petitioners said the government should protect interests of the public by allowing MKM to pay out depositors instead of the company being liquidated.
“It is the fundamental obligation of any government to protect its citizens at all cost,” they said.
“Therefore we appeal to our government to sympathise with MKM investors by allowing MKM to pay them.”
The allegations in the petition have however angered Thahane who is now threatening to sue Moremoholo for defamation.
Thahane said the allegations were false and malicious.
The lawsuit will target Moremoholo because he has made similar allegations in the past, Thahane said.
“It is a lie that I ever was interested in or bid for the Agricultural Bank building,” the minister said.
“I am the person who was selling the building on behalf of the government.”
“Moremoholo has failed to provide proof of his allegations,” Thahane added.
“Perhaps now he will prove in court. I do plan to take legal action. This is defamatory.”
Thahane also accused Moremoholo of using lies to incite MKM depositors to hate him.
The MP, Thahane said, was spreading false information even though he knew the MKM issue was before the court.
“It is the High Court of Lesotho that is going to make a decision on the issue of MKM which has filed many legal objections which have delayed a solution,” Thahane said.
“MKM and the Central Bank have been requested many times to reconcile their list of investors and this has not happened.”
The case is still lying in the High Court with almost all judges on the bench reluctant to handle it.