11 November 2017

Lesotho: LCD Goes Alone On Parly Boycott

THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has decided to boycott parliamentary committees this week -- a stance that is at variance with that of other opposition parties.

LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, this week told the Lesotho Times that the opposition parties through their caucus, had agreed to boycott the committees' sittings until their exiled leaders returned to the country.

LCD leader and former deputy premier, Mothetjoa Metsing, his deputy, Tšeliso Mokhosi, and Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, fled to South Africa separately in August this year.

The trio skipped the country citing tip-offs from "trusted sources" about plots to assassinate them and alleged persecution by the government.

Mr Metsing, who is also the legislator for Mahobong, fled the skipped the country after claimingt he had received a tip-off that the police were on their way to his Ha Lobiane home-town to arrest and kill him.

Mr Mokhosi, a former Defence and National Security minister who is facing a murder charge, fled the country immediately after he was released from prison on bail, alleging that his life was in danger.

He was charged alongside four police officers for the murder of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng.

For his part, Mr Mokhothu claimed he was forced into exile after his name appeared on a hit-list.

Speaking to this publication this week, Mr Sekata said: "We have agreed during our opposition caucus that we shall not be attending any of these sittings until our exiled leaders have come back".

"They (government) are just playing for the audience so that onlookers think they are busy doing something. They just want to give SADC the impression that they are serious about bringing back the exiled leaders and that we are working hand in hand, which is not the case.

"We have decided not to go to the parliamentary committees in the absence of our leaders because attending would be giving them support and make the government business a success. That would send a wrong signal to SADC that the government and opposition are working together, which is not the case. Since they don't want to work with us, we won't support them either."

Mr Sekata said they would also boycott the reforms process for "as long as our leaders are still in exile".

However, the LCD position is at variance with that of other opposition parties who have distanced themselves from the boycott of parliamentary committees.

DC Secretary-General, Semano Sekatle told this publication that "there was no such a thing (as the opposition boycott)".

"We are His Majesty's loyal opposition and we can't condemn the government business on the basis of our political differences as that would be unfair on our voters," Mr Sekatle said.

Popular Front for Democracy leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane, professed ignorance about the boycott.

"I am not in the light about such an arrangement, unless it is yet to be communicated to me," Advocate Rakuoane said.

He described the committees as the engine where parliamentary business was dealt with in depth and decisions made.

He said it would therefore, be an unwise move to boycott them.

National Independent Party leader, Kimetso Mathaba, was also unaware of the boycott, adding he was participating in the parliamentary committees as expected.

"I have been attending except for today (Wednesday) where I couldn't attend due to some personal commitments and I even made an apology to other members.

"We have never agreed on boycotting the committees, unless they are yet to tell me," Mr Mathaba said.

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