Ambitious Metsing eyes Lesotho premiership on his homecoming

Staff Reporter

Maseru -Former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is still pursuing his life-long dream of becoming Prime Minister. Analysts expect him to ratchet up his plans to unseat Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition administration, a feat he can achieve “if it (government) does not keep its eye on the ball”. Pundits who spoke to Public Eye this week cautioned that Metsing comes back to Lesotho fervently hoping that his desire to become PM will be fulfilled if he plays his cards well.

They expect him to “capitalise on any weaknesses” he might identify in Thabane’s ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)”. The analysts add that if Metsing, who in his speech on Sunday on his return to Lesotho called for the formation of a government of national unity (GNU), is able to court Moleleki, “chances are that things will change drastically if Moleleki comes into the picture”.

Moleleki has previously called for a GNU but was forced by AD supporters to abandon the idea. When Metsing fell out with former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in 2012, the latter abandoned the former ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and formed the current main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), allowing Metsing to ascend to the LCD leadership. While the DC won the 2012 elections, the party failed to form government as it was snubbed by the LCD which, instead, formed Lesotho’s coalition government with the ABC and BNP, a decision which the analysts now say was not necessarily “Metsing’s snub of Mosisili but what he (Metsing) thought was his chance to edge closer to the PM’s position”.

Metsing eventually fell out with Thabane in 2014, which led to that coalition government’s collapse and subsequent February 2015 elections that resulted in the country’s second seven-party coalition government led by Mosisili with Metsing as his DPM. The analysts further assert the fact that Metsing, who faces charges of corruption and tax evasion, returned to Lesotho despite threats of arrest from some quarters of government and was also provided with security, has emboldened the former DPM while also embarrassing government which was adamant that Metsing would be arrested on arrival.

Metsing returned to Lesotho last Sunday after spending more than a year in self-imposed exile in South Africa, under the auspices of a SADC-brokered memorandum of understanding (MoU) between government and the opposition, under the guidance of Special Envoy Sadc Facilitator to Lesotho Justice Dikgang Moseneke. Signed at a local hotel by Moleleki on behalf of government and Official Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathibeli Mokhothu, Clause 10 of the agreement stipulated that “the government of Lesotho shall ensure the safety of all citizens in exile and must provide adequate security for Mr Metsing and similarly placed persons. Mr. Metsing and similarly placed persons in exile will not be subjected to any pending criminal proceedings during the dialogue and reforms process”.

The objective of the clause was to achieve inclusivity in the country’s multi-sectoral reform programme of parliament, the constitution, the judiciary, media and security and public service sectors by allowing, among others, exiled political leaders including LCD Deputy-Leader Ts’eliso Mokhosi and Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader Teboho Mojapela, to participate in the reforms.

However, last week the Constitutional Court invalidated clause 10 on the grounds that it was unconstitutional “in as far as it undermines and is inconsistent with section 99 (3) of the constitution” thus empowering the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Adv. Hlalefang Motinyane to decide on whether or not to prosecute criminal cases. The constitutional court ruled that “Clause 10 is unconstitutional in as far as it undermines and is inconsistent with section 99(3) of the constitution. In principle, the court cannot compromise the exercise of powers by the DPP. The same applies to the arresting powers assigned to the police by law and those entrusted upon the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

“It can only intervene through a review against abuses of such powers or where there are unconstitutional acts. Even the courts do not in principle have the power to interfere with the arresting powers of the police and the DCEO.” Meanwhile, on the same day the ruling was made, the DCEO’s lawyer Advocate Sefako Seema informed the Constitutional Court that unless directed otherwise by the DPP, the anti-corruption body would proceed to prosecute Metsing.

DCEO Director Matsoso Borotho has previously told Public Eye that the body would proceed with its charges against Metsing as long as ‘clause 10’ did not violate the country’s laws. According to independent local political analyst Arthur Majara, while Metsing’s return to Lesotho has the potential to shift the political landscape “unfortunately it will not be in ordinary Basotho’s interests”.

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