22 September 2017

Southern Africa: Metsing Inciting Army - SADC

A SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) Ministerial Double Troika fact-finding mission to Lesotho gathered that Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing was inciting soldiers and attempting to "make the country ungovernable".

However, the LCD has come out guns blazing in refuting the claim, saying it was "utter rubbish" and the government's attempt to besmirch Mr Metsing.

The SADC Ministerial Double Troika fact-finding mission was in Lesotho earlier this month after the assassination of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo.

Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was shot dead at his Ratjomose barracks office by his subordinates on 5 September 2017. Two of the alleged assailants, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi were shot dead by Lt-Gen Motšomotšo's bodyguards, while two others are in custody. One remains on the run.

The SADC Ministerial Double Troika fact-finding mission was led by Angolan Foreign Affairs Minister, Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, and conducted an assessment of the security situation in Lesotho on 7 September 2017.

The mission held meetings with key stakeholders in the country "in order to establish the root causes of the assassination and subsequently recommend the appropriate courses of action".

It presented its findings last Friday during a one-day SADC Double Troika Summit in Pretoria, South Africa.

Among its findings were "concerns" about Mr Metsing's alleged outsize influence on the LDF for his political ends.

Mr Metsing, who is also a former deputy premier, fled the country last month citing a tip-off from a "trusted source" about a plot to assassinate him.

However, the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane-led government has since rubbished Mr Metsing's claims, saying the government would not achieve anything in persecuting the opposition.

The fact-finding mission reported of concerns that Mr Metsing was intent on destabilizing the government through the army.

"There were concerns regarding the conduct of some politicians, notably the former deputy prime minister Mr Metsing of inciting soldiers negatively with an intention to sow seeds of insecurity and to make the country ungovernable," reads part of the mission's findings.

LCD deputy spokesperson, Apesi Ratšele, laughed off the allegations, saying they were made by the government.

"That is utter rubbish. What has been happening is that the delegation held meetings with different stakeholders including the government, opposition, civil society organisations. Unfortunately, nonsense usually comes from the present government," Mr Ratšele said, adding that the people who made the allegations should provide proof.

"There is no way Ntate Metsing would meet with soldiers while he was in exile."

He said the LCD accepted its role as an opposition party, adding that they firmly believed in the importance of the LDF remaining professional, neutral and only supporting the government of the day.

"The army must support a legitimate government, whether it is Thabane in government or not and under no circumstances will we intervene with the army," said Mr Ratšele.

"The LDF is not a political battleground for us."


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