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LESOTHO – Congress for Democracy Youth Leaders Quizzed Over The Fatal Shooting Of Prime Minister’s Wife

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LESOTHO Congress for Democracy youth leaders, Secretary General Potso Shao and President Motlatsi Maope were yesterday questioned at Pitso Ground Police Station in Maseru over comments they made in the aftermath of last month’s fatal shooting of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, Lipolelo.

Ms Thabane was shot dead by an unknown assailant as she was about to drive into her Ha ‘Masana home on 14 June 2017. The incident occurred just two days before the inauguration of Dr Thabane as Lesotho’s prime minister.

A female companion also sustained serious injuries. Ms Thabane was laid to rest last Friday.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Mr Shao addressed a press conference in which he claimed to be speaking on behalf of the seven former governing parties which were ousted from power after the 3 June 2017 elections.

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The parties in the former government consist of the Democratic Congress (DC), LCD, Marematlou Freedom Party, Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party, Lesotho People’s Congress and Popular Front for Democracy.

“As the youths of this country, we are deeply aggrieved by the killing of our mother, the First Lady, Mme Lipolelo Thabane, whose death has caused great shock and made headlines in Lesotho and internationally,” Mr Shao said at the June press conference.

“It was a striking coincidence that she was killed just a day to go before her husband’s inauguration as prime minister.

“We all know that she was supposed to be the First Lady as per the judgement of the High Court delivered by Justice Molefi Makara in 2015. We therefore appeal to the police to do right thing and not beat about the bush since the perpetrator in this matter is well known even by a toddler,” Mr Shao said without elaborating on whom he meant.

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Speaking after being questioned by police yesterday, Mr Shao said he had been summoned to “help police with their investigations”.

“I was welcomed very warmly and asked to present my side of the story, why I had maintained that the perpetrators in the matter were known and I did without any duress whatsoever.”

The LCD youth league officials also complained about the “sudden change of administrators” in the police force which they felt would affect investigations into the killing.

“Since last week, we have also been complaining about the removal of Senior Assistant Commissioner (SACP) Jankie Hlaahla who was the Acting Deputy Commissioner handling the case and the sudden appointment of DCP Holomo Molibeli.

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“However, the matter has since been clarified to our satisfaction that investigations won’t be tampered with as there was no such switching as we thought.

“The police assured us that once a breakthrough has been made in the case, they shall alert us like they will do to the public as they are obligated to give feedback.”

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Clifford Molefe confirmed that they called “two youths for questioning pertaining to the murder of the late Prime Minister’s wife”.

He however, said no arrests had been made so far and they were still investigating.

’Marafaele Mohloboli

Football

COSAFA Castle Cup, Warriors Demolishes Bitter Rivals Zambia To Lift Trophy

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CALL him King Sunday III, the COSAFA King, Warrior King or whatever name with a touch of royalty and, if you are taking about Africa’s most successful regional football tournament, it’s unlikely you will get critics throwing bricks at you for hoisting him on such a pedestal reserved for revered monarchs.

When someone finally decides to pluck a leaf from Memory Mucherahowa and writes a book about the COSAFA Castle Cup in an era where possibly this regional tournament would have long staggered into extinction, there will certainly be a special page reserved for this Zimbabwean coach.

For, choosing not to do that will not just be seen as an insult to the real story of this tournament, which this year celebrated 20 years after its inaugural edition with the Warriors making history by winning a record fifth crown after demolishing bitter rivals Zambia 3-1 in the final on Sunday, but will certainly be viewed as an aberration.

Welcome back home Mhofu. And, before we get lost in the mist of statistics that provide the soul of this piece, it’s important to tell you that while you were away on national duty in South Africa, one of your old boys Moses Chunga went on national television on Monday night to thank you for delivering this piece of silverware.

He also told the nation, using the massive reach that the weekly Monday night ZTV football magazine programme Game Plan has across the country, he was indebted to you for restoring the Warriors’ pride at this tournament after years of underachievement by our boys since we had last graced the winners’ enclosure back in 2009.

Chunga said it was an insult to this nation that the Warriors should be ranked among lightweights of the COSAFA Castle Cup, reduced to the Mickey Mouse football nations who have to start their adventure in the group qualifying stages because of our repeated poor showing there, given the talent around this country.

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Play the video below:

Amid the explosion of joy at the Royal Bafokeng Palace on Sunday, after victory over the ultimate rivals had been secured, in comprehensive fashion and with a touch of class in which the attacking football of your players illuminated the mild winter afternoon, you might probably not have heard South African football commentator Mark Gleeson telling millions of television viewers across the continent that this was your 15th unbeaten match in this tournament.

Gleeson, who also writes for some of the world’s leading publications, is a man everyone in this part of the world respects, for good reason too, because he is considered the ultimate football encyclopedia in Southern Africa, the authoritative voice of the game who was even honoured by the CAF leadership for his services to African football.

He was the SuperSport commentator for our final against Zambia and did a pretty good job of it, as he usually does, and as you started that sprint, which appeared like a jog, onto the field to be with your players in their hour of success, Gleeson remembered the scar that the old injury that ended your career and makes you run in an awkward way, and used it as a sound-bite to his commentary. And if it was meant to honour you for the service you have given to his game, to remind his audience that you were not a Johnny-Come-Lately suddenly trying to parade himself as the master in this game, Gleeson really hit a bull’s eye.

Oh, by the way, this isn’t about Big Mark but about you, the man whose parents, somehow, aptly, chose a fitting first name for given your life in the public glare, and your greatest stories, have generally been told on any given Sunday.

Welcome home Sunday Chidzambwa. Of course, I have been doing the maths and your record in this COSAFA Cup, where you are unbeaten, doesn’t tell me that you have been involved in 15 matches, as previously broadcast and written, but that you have guided your Warriors in 16 games.

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And you have won 13 and drawn 3, in the period spread over 17 years that you have been involved with this tournament, with your Warriors scoring 37 goals and conceding only seven and, if this was a league championship, this will give you 42 out of 48 points.

Now, that an impressive 87.5 percent success rate in this tournament although, given the ultimate mission is to try and win it, and you have done so on all the three occasions you have been asked to take charge of your Warriors in this tourney, others can rightly call it a 100 percent success rate.

There have been nine clean sheets by your men in those 16 matches and only two teams, Lesotho, has managed to score more than one goal in the 16 matches that you have presided over in the three COSAFA Cup tournaments.

Yes, Lesotho scored twice against your Warriors at Rufaro back in 2009 in a 2-2 draw, one of only three teams — the others being South Africa and Madagascar, of course, with a little bit of help from that Botswana referee who denied your boys two clear penalties — who have managed to scrap draws against your team in the COSAFA Cup.

And Lesotho, who are the only ones who appear to have perfected a way of piercing your defensive shields when it comes to this tournament, again scored three times in South Africa in that seven-goal semi-final thriller even though, as your boys always do under you when the COSAFA Cup comes along, you won that contest.

Your Warriors have only trailed once, in your adventure in this COSAFA Cup, in that semi-final against Bafana Bafana at Rufaro on October 28, 2009, when Lennox Bacela shot his country into a first half lead to plunge more than 25 000 fans into silence.

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How dare, I may ask, did they even doubt your men because your Warriors came fighting back, found the equaliser in the second half and in the penalty shoot-out lottery that followed, held their nerve to triumph.

Our colleagues, across the Zambezi, must be rowing tired of just your presence because, on the occasions we meet them in the final of this tournament and you are the one in charge — as was the case on Sunday — it always ends 3-1 in our favour.

It was the same story back in 2009 when a double by Nyasha Mushekwi and another goal by Cuthbert Malajila powered your boys to a 3-1 triumph in that final and, on Sunday, it was a similar score in Rustenberg.

By the way, why do players with a surname that starts with “M”, as was the case with your old name Marimo before it underwent major surgery and came out as Chidzambwa, and is the case with your nickname, clan name or whatever, Mhofu, always steal the show with the goals in the COSAFA Cup final in which you are the coach?

Albert Mbano and Zvenyika Makonese in that 2-1 win in Malawi in 2003, Nyasha Mushekwi and Cuthbert Malajila in that 3-1 win over Zambia at Rufaro in 2009 and Knox Mutizwa and Ocean Mushure in that 3-1 win over the Zambians in Rustenberg on Sunday?

Maybe, now that you are back home, King Sunday III, I will get a chance to find an explanation to all this?

Sixteen games, 13 wins, three draws, 37 goals, just seven against, it just doesn’t get better than this and, in case you doubt, ask the Zambians.

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor

Via Herald!

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Entertainment

Five Music Artist With S.A Entertainers To Feature In BOLESWA Opening Bash to kick start the Intervarsity Games

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FIVE local artistes are set to strut their stuff before Swazi audiences alongside prominent South African and Swazi acts at Saturday’s BOLESWA Opening Bash to kick start the Intervarsity Games.

BOLESWA is the acronym for the universities of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland and these stage annual sporting games on a rotational basis aimed at fostering solidarity and friendship among students.

Lesotho hosted last year’s edition at Thaba Bosiu and the event was organised for the first time by the Rock The City SA entertainment company.

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And on Saturday, Lesotho’s DJ Vesta, Monyase, Mega Hertz, 3rd Code and Mavele will share the stage with South Africa’s DJ Tira, NaakMusiq, DJ SK and SdudlaNoma1000 as well as Swaziland’s Switch, DJ Mfundo, Lyrical Busta, The Scientist, DJ Njaba, Eskay, Rizna and DJ Thoko.

The South Africa based owner of Rock The City Entertainment, Lehlohonolo “Hlony” Nthontho has previously told the Weekender that the aim was to uplift the local entertainment scene by exposing them to regional audiences.

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This week, one of the local acts, Mavele spoke of his joy and gratitude to Rock The City.

“I never thought being an MC would take me this far and I have been booked for several epic events in the country, South Africa as well as Botswana,” Mavele said, adding, “I would like to thank the Almighty for the talent He blessed me with”.

“I have been hosting all Rock The City events at home and in South Africa since last year and in addition to the Swaziland event, I will tour Botswana with their artiste, SdudlaNoma1000 in April.

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“At the moment we only have a verbal contract but I believe after the Botswana tour I will be signed under Rock The City Entertainment and I am so grateful for the opportunities they presented me.

“I look forward to representing my country in Swaziland alongside my compatriots,” he said.
Mohalenyane Phakela

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Lesotho

Lesotho – Thabane Urges Mosili To Retire And Give Room For New Government

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Thomas Thabane in a recent in interview by the Lesotho Times, urges Mosili to resign. the removal of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli was a key demand by All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane for his return home from his South African exile.  Slightly more than two months after Lt-Gen Kamoli’s removal, Dr Thabane is still in exile.  Promises of his return have not materialised. The Lesotho Times this week tracked Dr Thabane to explain why he is still in exile despite Lt-Gen Kamoli’s departure. Dr Thabane did not mince his words, alleging that even though Lt-Gen Kamoli has been removed from the LDF, he still believes the government has retained him in some influential role. Dr Thabane nonetheless promised he will return sooner. He also urged Prime Minister Mosisili to retire and allow a new path for the country. Excerpts;

QUESTION:  Your much anticipated homecoming has not happened despite expectations that you should long have been home. We get both official and unofficial statements that you are headed home, then it doesn’t happen. The latest report was that you would have been home this past Sunday (29 February 2017). Again it did not happen. There has been a report from your party that you will now be home on 12 February 2017. We won’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen again. What’s the problem here? Will you ever return home?

Dr Thabane:  Your question is difficult for me. Most of what happens in my situation depends not only on what I do but on others’ involvement. If I had my way I would just rise up and go. But it’s not so easy. I did not leave home because I wanted to but because of circumstances. The process of my returning involves other situations. It involves SADC and the facilitator (Cyril Ramaphosa). It also involves my family and supporters in the party. It’s not my decision alone. My coming home is overdue and I think it is high time I come home to lead my party and to be with my supporters and family and interact with other leaders with whom I both agree and disagree.  I want to be home sooner rather than later?

QUESTION: Surely your party must be missing you and others might even say it is suffering in your absence?

DR Thabane:  I think that the ABC, despite my absence, has been growing in membership, not only in terms of numbers but national spread into the different constituencies. In the beginning, there was a belief that the ABC would only attract young people from the urban areas, but the ABC is attracting all and sundry. It has universal support from the lowlands up to the mountains. It is supported by church goers and non-church goers, professionals and non-professionals, men and women, people from across the board.

The failure rate of the present coalition led by the Democratic Congress (DC) has led the population into seeing the need for enlightened leadership. The ABC is the best equipped party now to meet the needs of all Basotho, educated and uneducated, rich and poor. There have been some negative reports in the media about the leadership of the ABC. These should not be taken at face value.

The events that affected the party’s top leadership (resulting in the ouster of ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu) was like the action of the sea when it cleanses itself.  It throws out what it no longer wants and keeps what it needs so that the fish can live and grow and that all other beings living in that sea mature to their very best levels.

ABC membership has been growing phenomenally and the claim that we are a lowlands party has been disproved. We have support across the 10 districts of Lesotho and the ABC is both the party of the moment and the future.

QUESTION:  The removal of Lt-Gen Kamoli was your pre-requisite for coming back home. Lt-Gen Kamoli is long gone but you are still in exile. Why?

Dr Thabane:  His removal is a very large part of what we need. I have been out of the country for quite a while alongside other civilians, my party officials, other politicians and members of the army and many others who have been in exile. It is necessary that a comprehensive arrangement is made as quickly as possible so that my coming home is not just about Thomas Thabane but also about all the Basotho who have been forced out of their motherland. Many of these people are in exile because of me. They followed me because they were deemed to support me and they were victimised because of their support of me. We need a comprehensive arrangement for all of them to return home.

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QUESTION: And what’s that comprehensive arrangement?

Dr Thabane:   It is SADC’s responsibility to guarantee our safe return. SADC would understand what that means.

QUESTION: Has SADC come to the party?

Dr Thabane: We have seen very slow progress from SADC concerning the matter of our return. But I am thankful that they (SADC) took an interest in the matter. Recently, I had a meeting with church leaders from Lesotho (Christian Council of Lesotho) who met me and asked me and my colleagues in exile to return home. The church leaders felt they need to add their voice to our calls for a safe return. When people of that calibre take an interest in you, then you know you are fighting a just war. The just war I am fighting involves other people. The process of coming home must therefore be inclusive and involve all people in exile. I am referring here to members of the security establishment who followed me into exile because they were being victimised, my bodyguards, other political colleagues and many others. They also need free passage home and they need to get their jobs back. Just like me, they had done nothing wrong….

QUESTION: Again we are compelled to ask you; Shouldn’t Kamoli’s removal be enough to get you back home since his departure from the LDF was your main demand?

Dr Thabane: He needs to be stripped of all government powers. I was not afraid of Kamoli as a person. I was worried about his propensity to abuse the apparatus of the LDF to target me. As LDF commander, he was a threat to my life and the lives of my family members. That is why I took my wife into exile. As an ordinary citizen, I have no problem with him and I can meet him in the street and not worry about him…..But they must strip him of all powers that he currently enjoys….

QUESTION: Are you suggesting that he still has power and his removal from the LDF was merely cosmetic as others have suggested?

Dr Thabane: He has been removed from the LDF but from what I gather, he is still retained in some capacity in the government and is enjoying a lot of government perks including state sanctioned security when he is now supposed to be a private citizen. Since when do private citizens get state protection?  He certainly still has some capacity.  If there is no clarity as to what this capacity is, then it makes me question the sincerity of the government in removing him from the LDF.  This partly explains why we still want to rely heavily on SADC in ensuring our safety.

QUESTION: So in a nutshell, when can we expect Tom Thabane back home?

Dr Thabane:  It is my belief that the prime minister and his advisors will give this matter, their most urgent attention. Because I am extremely anxious to come home and participate in the developments that will lead to a peaceful resolution of the current crisis and lead to the creation of an environment for a prosperous Lesotho.

QUESTION: Dr Mosisili claims that he has done all he can to bring you back home and given you all safety guarantees but you have either not cooperated or you have reneged on agreements you have entered with him?

Dr Thabane: It is not helpful for me to enter into a debate with the prime minister because I have personal responsibility for my own personal safety and the safety of those who are dependent on me. I sincerely want to repeat my appreciation of his having listened to me and that’s why I am urging him to complete the task in a manner that will be open and transparent and to the best interests of all of us who are involved in this matter. But after all is said and done, I am the one who is responsible for my own safety and I am the one who can make the call on when it is best for me to return and not anybody else…..

QUESTION:  Your deputy, Mr Khasu has moved on from the ABC after his suspension to form a new party with your former minister Pitso Maisa.  Does that weaken the ABC?

Dr Thabane: On the contrary, it will stabilise the two constituencies these two gentlemen represented the ABC in. They were both ineffective and they interfered with the work and independence of their constituency committees.  I am glad that they have gone. I thank them for that because the ABC can now function normally in their constituencies without fearing for their dictatorial approach which was affecting our supporters in those two constituencies.

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QUESTION: Do you think your party has suffered in your absence?

Dr Thabane: Yes, my absence has been an issue of great pain to members of my party. Because unlike other parties, they have been functioning without their leader whom they elected.  If this issue had taken a few days, the pain would have been lessened. But it has dragged.  It is of great significance that whenever ABC supporters meet at rallies on Sundays, they ask me to speak to them via the telephone. This is an indication of the strong bond between me and the ABC membership. I only wish I was home to interact with them more directly.

QUESTION: Trade Minister Joshua Setipa recently accused you of frequently changing goalposts over your coming home. He effectively implied that you must shoulder the blame if Lesotho is thrown out of AGOA partly because of perceptions that the opposition is being persecuted. How do you respond to that?

Dr Thabane: I don’t have the capacity and facilities to measure people’s mental capabilities. So I am in no position to measure the mental faculties and capacity of that gentleman. If I had such facilities, I would have done so and then given a reply to your question after using such facilities to determine his mental capacities.

QUESTION: How do you assess the performance of the coalition government thus far?

Dr Thabane: My original departure from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) was an act of complete desperation arising from the failure of any organisation led by Pakalitha Mosisili to deliver anything to the nation. It is on record that no one has broken away from the Congress movement and then won 17 constituencies as the ABC did in 2007.  The number then grew to 26 seats in the 2012 elections and then 40 seats in the last elections.  All indications are that the ABC will win a landslide in any upcoming elections

QUESTION: Yes, that is all about the growth of your party which anyone can acknowledge. The question was about your take on the performance of the present coalition government?

Dr Thabane: The present coalition has been a complete disgrace and failure. The most outstanding testimony to this fact has been the breakaway of the deputy leader of the main coalition partner, the DC, and his highly successful formation of a new party, the AD. The LCD always boasted that if you broke away from it, then you had signed the death warrant to your political career. I broke away and got 17 seats in only three months. The deputy leader Moleleki has just left and taken away with him many seats from Parliament. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that in the next nine months or so, the Mosisili group would have become history.

QUESTION: Why do you mention nine months in particular? Do you know something we don’t?

Dr Thabane: It’s a rough estimate, and a very generous one. Mosisili’s demise can even come sooner.

QUESTION: Dr Mosisili has said he can dissolve Parliament to circumvent any no confidence vote. That surely can forestall his demise?

Dr Thabane: Any such decision to dissolve Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote would be a gross abuse of power. It will be a 100 percent self-serving decision. It’s wrong for Mosisili to assume that Lesotho can only survive if he is Prime Minister. It seems that is how he perceives himself and, I want to state categorically that he is wrong.

QUESTION: Are you saying that he should let parliamentary processes take their course and let a no-confidence motion be debated openly?

Dr Thabane: If he is sensible enough, that’s what he must do. He should stop this connivance with the Speaker to try and circumvent our parliamentary processes and procedures. He should let democracy prevail and let a no-confidence vote be put to a vote if that’s what MPs want.  Better still, he should just walk away.

QUESTION:  What do you mean?

Dr Thabane: He must go. He must retire. He has stayed in power too long and he must go home and rest and give the nation a chance to proceed without him?

QUESTION: But you also did the same when your power was threatened? You prorogued Parliament. Are you saying it’s right for Thabane to prologue Parliament when his power is threatened and wrong for Mosisili to dissolve Parliament when his power is threatened? 

Dr Thabane:  So he must prorogue it (parliament) too and call for an election. It is the quickest way out of our current morass. I don’t regret having done what I did. He is free to do the same. After all, after that prorogation, I added so many constituencies. He could perhaps add one or two. But let him be man enough to make a decision instead of engaging in all sorts of unnecessary dance acts.

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QUESTION: It has also been suggested that you and others have been away from Parliament for too long that you must now be ejected and have fresh elections in your constituencies?

Dr Thabane: All that is plain foolish.  Only the electorate has the decision to eject MPs in free and fair elections.

QUESTION: But there is a constitutional provision that if you are absent from Parliament for a certain period of time, then you can be ejected from Parliament and have fresh elections in your constituency?

Dr Thabane:  If there is such a provision in the constitution, I would like to see it. And I would want to challenge it in the courts and say that I just did not run away from Parliament because I wanted to but I ran away from Kamoli because he wanted to kill me….. and both Mosisili and Metsing did not save me. I just did not walk away. I walked away because I was going to be killed by Commander Kamoli ……

QUESTION: Lesotho is now in a stalemate. How do we break this logjam?

Dr Thabane: I am looking to the intervention of SADC to help break that logjam in a satisfactory manner. I still keep my confidence in SADC, in the AU, in the United Nations system and in members of the UN Security Council including Britain, which is our former colonial master, and America which is our main development assistance partner.

QUESTION: You say you are confident of SADC. But there is a view that unlike Ecowas, which saw off Yayha Jammeh when he wanted to cling to power in Gambia, SADC is a timid and supine body?

Dr Thabane:  I have confidence in SADC as a regional body. As an organisation it has capacity to do good. It’s in its own interests to do good for the people of this region.

QUESTION:  Your alliance with Mr Moleleki. Does it still subsist seeing that it was entered when he was still in the DC and when he was trying to overthrow Mosisili from within?

Dr Thabane: Our agreement with Moleleki was based on the fact that even though he was still in DC, he was on his way out. That has now happened. So our agreement still subsists from our side. Everything is the same.

QUESTION: Is there no danger that the ABC and AD will split votes in an upcoming elections to your detriment?  

Dr Thabane: That is speculation which misses the point. We are leaders of parties and we have the agreement of our people to negotiate a relationship. The terms of that relationship are laid out in our agreement. We are serious people with a track record of service. I am putting my integrity on the line in terms of what we have agreed and I expect the same of him. I will live to what I have signed up with him and I expect the same of him.

QUESTION: The issue of the Amnesty Bill has been cited as a potential destroyer of your coalition with Mr Moleleki before it even takes off. Mr Moleleki has spoken well of the Amnesty bill while you have said it’s a non-starter?  

Dr Thabane: We did not form a coalition on one issue but on very broad principles. Seriously each party retains its own autonomy to make decisions. We are not a male choir in which everyone sings the same note. We will agree on certain things and agree to disagree on others?

QUESTION: Should there be amnesty for those who have been implicated in atrocities including Kamoli?

Dr Thabane: NO.

QUESTION: What should happen then?

Dr Thabane: There must be a fair and equitable process and structure like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to unearth the truth and strive towards healing those who have been hurt. It must be a process with international participation from our cooperating partners.

QUESTION: Your last word for Basotho?

Dr Thabane: Basotho particularly members of ABC should know that my return home has reached its final stages of negotiations and it’s a matter of time before I return. It’s their entitlement to know when and they will know soon.  I am not coming home for holiday. I am coming home to join ABC and making sure that we win elections decisively.

Via Lesotho Times

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Lesotho

Lesotho – Government hits back at Americans

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PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government has sharply rebuked the United States over its insistence that Lesotho should implement major reforms to ensure African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility for 2017.

In a further souring of the frayed relations between the seven-party coalition government and Lesotho’s biggest benefactor, Maseru even went as far as accusing the United States of breaching diplomatic protocol by allegedly leaking on social media a letter addressed to the premier.

The government has also accused the Americans of trying to railroad Lesotho to make decisions that suit “the US Embassy’s fancy” purportedly in contravention of Southern African Development Community (SADC) resolutions.

The strongly-worded response was penned by Dr Mosisili’s Economic and Political Advisor Dr Fako Likoti after the United States government wrote a letter to the premier last week stating that the Mountain Kingdom had failed to meet governance benchmarks to benefit from AGOA.

In the letter whose contents were published in the Lesotho Times’ sister paper Sunday Express, the Americans took particular note of the government’s failure to investigate the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao and not releasing detained soldiers facing mutiny charges as recommended by the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led SADC Commission of Inquiry.

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After the killing of the former army commander on 25 June 2015, Dr Mosisili asked SADC to help establish the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, resulting in the Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Phumaphi of Botswana.

The 10-member commission carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended, among other things, that government should investigate the killing and prosecute those found to be responsible.

It also recommended that Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli be relieved of his duties “in the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation” and officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason be suspended while investigations in their cases proceeded “in line with international best practice”.

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The missive, which was signed by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa Florizelle Liser, said that while the retirement of LDF commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli on 1 December this year “marks a welcome and positive step forward”, it was not sufficient in implementing SADC Commission of Inquiry recommendations.

The Americans also urged Lesotho to make “concrete progress” in implementing the recommendations or face being booted out of AGOA. AGOA gives duty-free and quota-free access to the United States market to eligible Sub-Saharan African countries including Lesotho.

The Mountain Kingdom is among 37 nations benefitting from AGOA through its textile industry which employs an estimated 40 000 workers. The law obligates the American president to designate countries eligible to benefit from the trade facility on an annual basis after undergoing a review process.

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Among the main eligibility criteria for the facility are a market-based economy, rule of law, systems to combat corruption and not engaging in gross violations of internationally-recognised human rights. A determination on Lesotho’s AGOA eligibility will be made before the end of the year and become effective on 1 January 2017.

Dr Likoti’s response titled “A 50 year relations with the United States of America: Some reflections”, starts off by acknowledging the longstanding relationship between the two countries since Lesotho’s independence in 1966.

“As we reflect on the momentous relations Lesotho had with the United States of America in the past 50 years, one can only marvel at the route and terrain we have traversed. Lesotho recorded many milestones under this partnership and the cordial relations have grown from strength to

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