MASERU – Mothetjoa Metsing has been accused of pushing for former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Lt. Gen. Tlali Kamoli’s ouster in 2016 to protect AGOA, but the former deputy Prime Minister has robustly rubbished the claim.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader and its spokesperson Teboho Sekata, yesterday scoffed at damning allegations by firebrand politician Bokang Ramats’ella, placing Metsing at the heart of Kamoli’s forced retirement.
The LCD leadership, instead, charged Ramats’ella has been hired by Democratic Congress (DC) leader Mathibeli Mokhothu to tarnish Metsing’s image.
Ramats’ella on Monday told Public Eye that in 2016, Metsing pushed for Kamoli’s exit, arguing government risked forfeiting 40 000 jobs guaranteed under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) if it protected him.
According to Ramats’ella, Metsing was adamant that “we cannot lose our government and sacrifice 40 000 jobs for a mere soldier (lesolenyana)”.
This was supposedly because the United States wanted Kamoli gone for his alleged role in the security turmoil and human rights abuses that rocked the country between 2014 and 2016.
Under AGOA, the US gives selected African countries unfettered access to its vast market to spur the growth of their domestic economies.
Lesotho exports garments made mainly by women factory workers in Maseru and Maputsoe, offering them a much-needed escape route out of poverty.
On Monday, Ramats’ella alleged that on the eve of the December 1, 2016 change of the guard – when Kamoli handed over the reins of the LDF to slain Commander Lt. Gen. Khoantle Mots’omots’o – he confronted Metsing about his alleged betrayal.
Ramats’ella further labelled Metsing “unreliable, power thirsty and without character”, alleging that Metsing had promised him three jobs which never materialised.
Ramats’ella claimed to have been offered a lofty position on the LCD proportional representation list and a senatorial seat.
He was later promised a job either as Press Attache to the Prime Minister or Political Advisor to the Prime Minister “all of which never materialised”.
He further accused Metsing and the LCD of plotting to destroy the DC by using runners “to speak ill of and attack the integrity of DC leader Mathibeli Mokhothu”.
Ramats’ella asserted that Metsing was jealous of Mokhothu because he was not only a young leader but that he led “a big party with significant numbers” and that “for things to be deemed credible they must have Metsing’s say and letters must bear his signature”.
Yesterday, Metsing told this paper “this is a smear campaign” and denied having a hand in Kamoli’s expulsion or that he was fighting with Mokhothu.
“I have no reason to fight with him.”
“I do not have much to say on this because I don’t even understand why Ntate Ramats’ella is trying to drag my name through the mud. Ntate Ramats’ella has chosen to taint my good name.
“Let me give you a small example which the LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata made in response to Ramats’ella’s allegations. He said it was clear who according to the constitution is the appointing authority, with powers to advise or make recommendations to the King regarding a commander’s expulsion.
“I have never been in a position to make appointments or fire people I have never been a prime minister. I view this as a deliberate smear campaign to drag my name through the mud. It goes on to say I am at odds with Ntate Mokhothu. Why would I be? I don’t understand how that is even possible. What have I done?”
He further denied promising Ramats’ella a job in the PM’s office.
“It is no different from these allegations that I promised this person a job at the PM’s office. How can I promise anyone a job at PM’s office? I find it surprising because when you promise someone something, you also intervene on their behalf. If they succeed, they succeed. If they don’t, they don’t. All these allegations are very strange,” Metsing said.
“But at the end of the day, it is a well-known fact that I am not the one who recommended Ntate Kamoli’s expulsion. I must put it on record that I have nothing against Ntate Mokhothu and I certainly did not recommend Ntate Kamoli’s expulsion. Like I said earlier, Ntate (Ramats’ella) is on a mission to destroy my name.”
Metsing added: “Let’s forget the nonsense he is saying about being with me somewhere. The law is clear on the appointment and expulsion of commander. It’s just that this is Lesotho where such allegations will be entertained while he (Ramats’ella) gains the media exposure he seeks.”
Asked if he would sue as Ramats’ella had dared him to do, Metsing said it was “not a matter of whether or not I will sue” but that of the law.
“Even if we were to go to court, do you think based on constitutional provisions, the courts will say he is right and I am wrong? Is there a letter to that effect? Is there a law that would have supported such a move on my part?
“Would you ever find a letter in which a DPM, as I was, recommends the expulsion of a commander to the King? It is not a matter of whether or not I sue. But it is evident that this is just a smear campaign,” Metsing said.
When it was put to Metsing that Ramats’ella further alleged that Kamoli confronted him (Metsing) on the eve of his retirement, and that as a result he had skipped the function, Metsing said Ramats’ella was dragging Kamoli’s name into the brouhaha for no reason.
“I am sure Ntate Kamoli’s family is hurting that these allegations are being made. Here we are talking about families with children. These things should not be treated as just a game because they involve people,” Metsing said.
The LCD leader added it was tragic that Ramats’ella was peddling lies, as it was an open secret that he and his party were advocating the release from prison of Kamoli and other incarcerated soldiers.
“We are advocating as the LCD their release. What will I get from demanding that they be released from prison? I am just doing it because I am demanding justice. I don’t need anything else,” Metsing said.
“I repeat that as DPM, I did not have powers to recommend the expulsion of Ntate Kamoli as Commander LDF.”
The LCD leader also noted that the allegations were an insult to Mosisili, during whose tenure Kamoli was retrenched.
“Does that mean Ntate Mosisili was just a figure head doing nothing despite being head of government?
“It is a pity what poverty does to people because this person might be saying these things in a bid to please somebody somewhere.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Sekata dismissed Ramats’ella’s allegations. “He knows it is a lie that Ntate Metsing was instrumental in Ntate Kamoli’s expulsion. We all know in Lesotho there are two documents forming the basis of his exit. The first is Article 38 of the Phumaphi Commission report and one of the recommendations was that he (Kamoli) be released from the army,” Sekata said.
“Then there’s section 12 of the LDF Act 4. of 1996, which stipulates in clear terms the appointing and expelling authority of the LDF Commander. It is clear that that is the mandate of the PM and the LCD leader has never been a PM. It therefore tells you that Ramats’ella is fabricating all these (things).”
He added: “Secondly, there is what we call a government gazette, which documents when a senior person is appointed or released from service. The same LDF Act has a subordinate law of 1994 and it was made clear that Ntate Kamoli was released from duty by His Majesty the King on the advice of the Prime Minister and not the DPM.”
Sekata further blasted Ramats’ella for making “false accusations without documents or any other tangible proof to substantiate them”.
“And through it all, Ramats’ella is just blurting out one allegation after the other but has nothing tangible to substantiate his claims with. He is just an ordinary Mosotho who enjoys talking. Has he ever given you proof of what he was saying? He cannot because he has none,” Sekata said.
In response to the allegation that he had accompanied Ramats’ella to confront Metsing about Kamoli’s expulsion, Sekata said “such a meeting never took place” and that “we would have had no leg to stand on, as two ordinary men confronting the DPM”.
“Had such a meeting taken place as alleged, in what capacity would we have gone to confront the DPM about business involving the LDF Commander, as two ordinary Basotho men? I maintain that it is a lie. He is just a Mosotho man who loves hogging the spotlight.”
Ramats’ella told Public Eye on Monday he was fighting in the DC corner because the LCD leadership had launched a campaign to destroy Mokhothu and the DC.
He was determined to defend the DC and that the only way to achieve that “is to also attack the LCD leadership because they know that to destroy a party you must target the leader”.
Asked if it was true as alleged by Ramats’ella that the LCD leadership was on a campaign to attack DC leader Mokhothu in a bid to destroy his party, Sekata said it was clear that Ramats’ella had been assigned by Mokhothu to attack the LCD.
“Sadly, it is being done in a stupid manner because they are concocting lies. And we are not going to sit back and watch as they sully our good image. We will fight back and attack everything in our way,” Sekata said.
“When Ramats’ella said we are attacking DC for no reason, he is misguided. Even if we have worked with the DC, there’s no way that we are going to let them go scot-free if we discover that they have been involved in acts of corruption.
“Should we just keep quiet when they become involved in corruption, such as some of their MPs renting out their vehicles to government, against a policy that says MPs should not enter into such contracts?
“MPs are not volunteers. They earn salaries paid for by the state. And, the law is clear that it is illegal to earn twice from government. But some of their MPs, despite earning salaries paid for by the state, also get paid for renting out their cars to government. That went against their policy as MPs. So, are we expected to just turn a blind eye? No, we won’t.”
Again, Sekata sneered at the DC for allowing “someone like Ramats’ella who does not even hold a position in the DC” to defend the party and its leader while party members took the back seat.
“I’m actually amused. I find it laughable that Ramats’ella, an ordinary Mosotho man from the streets and without any position in the DC, is fighting the party’s battles while its supporters take the backseat as mere spectators. We are going to have a field day as the LCD. We are going to fight back.”
On Wednesday evening, Mokhothu neither denied nor validated Ramats’ella’s allegations but said “it does not sit well with me when members of congress parties fight”.
“It does not sit well with me when there are squabbles between members of congress parties. It is not to the benefit of Lesotho and Basotho. That is all I can say,” Mokhothu said.