NTHAKENG PHEELLO SELINYANE
This title is French for “An Analysis of Moseneke”. When I first wrote under this title back in 2016 it was about the elderly statesman and minister in the two-faced second coalition regime of 2015 which traded under two names of Khokanyan’a phiri and (later) Letšoele-le-beta-poho of Ntate Moeketse Malebo.
The “celebrity” judge, His Lordship Dikgang Moseneke, is forcing me into a cascade of déjà vus this Easter season – perhaps between himself and me, like The Redeemer, one of us is going to the cross for a noble cause.
Only last week I had to return to him with a heading I had preferred for his homeboy and former deputy minister, Ronnie Kasrils, 23 years ago. It flickers in my mind right now that stunted deputies who don’t make it to being chief honchos in South Africa take Lesotho as miniature thiefdom where they can dabble in Mickey Mouse captaincy for compensation!
When I wrote about Ntate Malebo years ago, I confessed that I was borrowing from the virulently anti-communist Catholic priest of the 1960s Father Joseph Garouge’s weekly pamphlet “Analyse du Mohlabani” which fine-combed the radical pro-Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) newspaper Mohlabani (The Warrior) of the legendary BM Khaketla, for the faintest sounds of “atheism” and “communism” to portray the maverick anti-colonialist message of the party as antichrist.
Today I propose to unmask blow by blow the variously hair-raising points raised or claimed by Mr Moseneke in his now viral letter strangely withholding the Phumaphi Commission transcripts from the High Court of Lesotho which ordered they be brought for evidence in the cases which Mr Moseneke says in the letter he’s looking to postpone for the sake of Basotho’s peace, and for which mission he earlier wanted parliament to be called from recess to pass an urgent law.
Let’s start with the notorious claim that the return of exiles to partake in the Reforms and their continued insulation from fear of arrest and prosecution is a guarantee for an abiding national stability that we all cannot do without, and these Reforms must be protected and completed.
First, it seems Mr Moseneke is keen to see Reforms completed solely as a project that will give him the kudos without regard to their essence and their effect on the ills they’re meant to address.
In short, they are meant to constrain public representatives from using public institutions (eminently the civil service, the courts, and the security forces) for their selfish interests at the expense of national unity and progress.
Therefore, they should not be seen to perpetuate the same or insulate identified perpetrators of the same from ongoing processes of correction.
Second, it also seems he sees them as a panacea to problems of highflyer criminality and impunity and looting of our treasury by public representatives and top officials, which have brought us to where we are, and for which we’re finding solutions through the courts – which he seeks to replace with the Reforms despite what I have just stated.
Third, he further considers these Reforms as a SADC prescription which he is administering on a lunatic asylum patient that is Basotho for their own sake.
Fourth, if he sees the flight of the three opposition leaders in fear of “King” Kamoli in 2015 and their return in 2017 after the self-destructing second coalition government fell on its own sword as equivalent of end of national conflict in which there were no victors, and the conquered and a national reconciliation had to be agreed by the warring parties finding a negotiated settlement like South Africa 1994, Lesotho 1993 and Mozambique and Angola around those years – he is distorting history for mischievous goals about which he becomes unduly emotional and acts like a spoilt toddler throwing toys out of the cot in practice and in his letter.
For record, the 2015 regime simply refused to do the Reforms or create conditions for political leaders return, which conditions were implementing the Phumaphi recommendations which have since become SADC decisions.
The July 2016 security sector reforms technical workshop – which you know could only be meaningless without the basis of national consensus on the content of the security forces transformation and their relation to national democracy – was merely used by the prime minister to vent his trademarks invectives against the opposition, civil society and the media.
The 2015 regime was felled by national pushback against reign of terror by the army, international pressure for Reforms and for upholding rule of law good governance and human rights, and its own internal wrangling about the spoils of corruption; and ultimately couldn’t survive a vote of no coincidence; and if it were not for the ill will of Prime Minister Mosisili we would have witnessed a transition like that of May 2020 without any need for the polls.
So it is wrong to toss an argument that sounds like there was a national consensus for return of exiles presumably pardoned to start the Reforms which can only be torpedoed by their trial.
Former opposition leaders in exile Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo are not on trial nor were they returned by a pardoning regime. They returned on its death throes occasioned by its breakup, and contrary to its will as a united entity.
Wind forward to the return of Mr Mothetjoa Metsing (not leaders) from his exile of July 2017, which he terminated after a national consensus undergirded by SADC shuttle diplomacy said the Reforms should not be held back by his apparently flippant conditions; whereas even up to that point his Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and all its allies had participated in all the preparatory forums of what ultimately became the National Leaders Forum (NLF) which prepared business for all the national dialogue forums and removed intermittent blockages along the way – which exile didn’t stop the Reforms.
On the eve of Mr Moseneke’s first landing here for the first NLF on 23 August, 2018, the government gave Mr Metsing an assurance of withdrawal of his arrest and extradition warrant, sought by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), for corruption and fraud, not any political act, and it was upon that he packed and came home.
So even here there was neither a dramatic mass return of exiles nor were the Reforms ushered in by a willing government reaching out to the exiles it had wronged or who were waging a war against it.
For avoidance of ambiguity, does my point deny SADC role in these processes? No, it only says it wasn’t a mediation in a genuine political standoff, but its intervention ultimately provided independent ascertainment that the Mosisili regime was opposed to creation of a conducive return of the self-exiled leaders for the Reforms to be inclusive because this would touch its military pillars fingered by the Phumaphi Commission, until it collapsed; and the intervention allowed SADC to be witness to the flippancy of Mr Metsing’s exile until he was given an ultimatum – therefore, it is wrong for a SADC envoy to take these as historic political conflict settings.
But we started these Reforms, and Mr Moseneke’s barbarian attitude to us in relation to these Reforms should be dispatched to the dark ages where it belongs. He takes us for the beasts that must be fenced out lest they ravage the valuable crop, when it comes to the Reforms.
So much so, that even as we have bent our backs twice on the turf of the Reforms, including an undertaking to field an AU expert consultant in security sector reforms, he has suddenly seized on that and decided to compose a script on the establishment of a transitional justice commission to suit his own needs, tastes, and desires, on the basis of complete falsification of the current conjuncture in our history.
Yet as Basotho we agreed on these reforms in June 2014 as solution to deputy prime minister doing the bidding of the bitter former prime minister to claim prerogative of the incumbent head of government and inciting resistance to exercise of that prerogative without his sanction just because he was in a coalition government.
When we had sealed this consensus with some guidance from the Commonwealth and that notorious New Zealand tour, the selfsame deputy prime minister apparently mid-wived an abortive coup by a sacked army commander who was kept in post by a maverick Maseru Security Accord contrived by Mr Moseneke’s principal, the then South African deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, as SADC Facilitator who harboured the rogue soldier while Metsing insisted on snap elections or support to a vote of no confidence in his own government instead of prosecuting the Reforms.
So the Reforms are our invention and our property, and they were delayed partly thanks to SA interference which enabled Mr Metsing to force that outcome because he had the SA-backed rogue commander, where he wouldn’t be forced to bargain with his (Metsing) impending arrest for alleged corruption, from which the army insulated him.
This is a telegraphic account but it should rake up detailed memories of those who cared to follow. That is what Mr Metsing meant when he said he would do anything to return to power in 2017 to save the soldiers who had put their heads on the bloc so that he could return to power in 2015.
Now Mr Moseneke joins the chorus and says if we don’t leave those soldiers alone Mr Metsing will collapse this government, and that’s a threat to the Reforms. Yes, he says this government is on the brink of breaking up anytime on the prospect of these cases proceeding, as though they are not already in progress!
Apparently he has been in ‘linakeli’ all along, and he has been sent by ‘linakeli’ to spread fears or he is actually incubating collapse of the ruling coalition himself, if he can’t have his way with its hatchers.
In his own words, he posits, “the threats of arrest of certain political leaders and the ongoing high-profile cases of soldiers are not only posing a threat of derailing the reforms process, but also the potential to collapse the existing Coalition Government.”
Contrary to actually lived experience so far, he theorises, “if these cases are proceeded with, they run the risk of undermining the most important principle of the reforms – the principle of inclusiveness … and undermining all the progress achieved thus far … and the threat of defocusing the stakeholders as it is the case now…and the potential to derail the whole reforms process.”
Suffice to say they haven’t; the Reforms are ongoing together with the cases as he admits, and nearing an end despite threats posed by his inexplicable interference. The stakeholders are fully focused on the Reforms through the NRA despite his unfounded claims to the contrary.
The inclusiveness refers to the parties and other organisations, not individual suspects in their ranks who would use them as their forests, which futile attempts they have so far commendably resisted.
Luckily we now know that by high-profile cases he means the soldiers fingered by the Phumaphi Commission, on which we know the decisions of SADC which he is formally here to assist implement.
History will as usual soon reveal why he has instead chosen to pick up spear and shield against SADC, while wearing its garb, and twisting our present history to amplify his very modest facilitation in order to consummate this weird project.
But these people have been behind bars and fighting for their survival in a civilized fashion through the due process of the law, putting up challenges to their prosecutions since late 2017; while the Reforms which are nearing their end started in mid-2018.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr Moseneke focuses solely on the Reforms and the fate of the rogue soldiers earmarked for prosecution by the SADC which he represents here – not the purposes for which the Reforms were meant.
To show that SA which sent Mr Moseneke here had scant regard for anything else, after flaunting retired Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Tlali Kamoli and parading him as trophy of his triumph over our democracy, handing him over to the second-coming Prime Minister Mosisili in March 2015 while Commander Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao and Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana remained in the wilderness where he had tethered them for this moment of conquest, President Ramaphosa didn’t even submit his report of tour of duty which should have included these Reforms.
Which has left some observers wondering what damning things Kamoli could have told the Phumaphi Commission in camera that they spoke and did with his benefactor Ramaphosa, to whom Moseneke rushed after SADC executive secretary, Stergomena Lawrence-Tax, strangely referred the request for the record to him.
He only delivered the report at the August 2015 Summit following the June merciless killing of Mahao by the forces of the glamorously returned Kamoli; where his tenure was extended, ultimately bringing us the scourge of Moseneke. “Ea re tliselitseng dikgang tse behileng taba tsa Lesotho mosenekeng!”
Mr Moseneke takes opportunity of being impertinently asked about the Phumaphi record to pour out his bitter frustrations over Lesotho leaders supposedly snubbing his directives to formalize their agreements. But surely there are no such agreements except a national dialogue or NLF communiqué or two.
When they threatened to boycott the Reforms in April 2018, the ‘Khokanyan’a phiri’ bloc said if their demands, now championed by Mr Moseneke, were not met they’d withdraw from negotiations with government; but there were never such talks besides the monologue shopping list which they eventually dropped because the world could see they were just void calla to bless impunity.
Now Mr Moseneke too holds out ghost pacts to concretize his case for laws – one to free Kamoli & Co, and the other to create a transitional justice commission – to christen the discredited Clause 10 rejected by our courts, and to which we will not return here. You may reveal your unbiased score cards. My professor used to say, write and get your crucifixion.