THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has pulled out of the ongoing national reforms exercise in protest and show of dissatisfaction over the prosecution of their leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, who faces treason and murder charges.
This was announced by party deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi, in a press conference held at the party’s offices in Maseru on Monday.
Metsing, who was due to appear in court the same Monday together with the leader of the Movement for Economic Change, Selibe Mochoboroane, to be joined to already incarcerated four members of the Lesotho Defence Force absconded and is reportedly self-exiled.
Mokhosi said the opposition LCD were left with no choice except to pull out of the reforms as “this is the only political tool that likely to work for us as a party.”
He said the only reason they agreed to be part of the reforms at a time their leader was exiled is because there was an agreement penned and signed between the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the government of Lesotho, guaranteeing that no political leader would be subjected to prosecution of any kind until finalization of the reforms.
“That is the only reason we agreed to take part in the reforms because we thought everyone understood the importance of the needed inclusivity in the process. There is no way anyone can take part in such an exercise when they are not free, fearing for their safety and lives at all times; that’s why a prisoner never comes to the table of negotiations.”
Mokhosi said even this time around they are caught with their backs against the wall and have no way out except to pull out of their reforms as this is “the only political tool that seems to work for us as all other remedies have failed to knock sense into our government about the importance of everyone taking part in good form of shape.
Every day we are shocked at how our government decides to pick and choose on the implementation of the SADC agreement. We are forever baffled and overwhelmed because this goes to show that no one seems to understand the true spirit of the reforms. We have exhausted all remedies and never thought that things would come to this point again.”
He said the decision to pull out of the reforms hasn’t been an easy one, as much progress has already been made. He added they strongly believed that all court processes would be done after the reforms have been completed.
“Of the many arguments that we hold was that the very courts which we are being dragged before need a total overhaul and restructuring because we don’t feel confident to battle our grievances in them.
We have, therefore, arrived at a decision that as a politically party, we are pulling out of the reforms and in all its platforms, at the National Reforms Authority and in parliament. We are no longer going to be a part and we have lobbied other parties to stand with us on this petition to the SADC and other stakeholders.
We have already managed to lobby some parties but are just not ready to give their names as they are only coming forward to sign the petition and it is only when they are done that we shall list them,” said Mokhosi.
He said they have attempted to consult with Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and the SADC Facilitator, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, to help them implement the agreement “but seemingly time was already not on side though we hoped this matter will be attended to.”
“Ntate Moseneke had promised to revert with an answer by last week Friday, but he has not done so because we have been made to understand he is still awaiting a response from the Lesotho government, so until then we are not part of the reforms.
Maybe it is only when government sees that more parties have pulled out and the reforms lack inclusivity that they will start recognizing the agreement,” Mokhosi continued.
If we are expected to take part in the reforms while appearing in court that’s never going to happen as our minds are not at ease. This means that they have lost direction and derailed, those leading the process don’t understand what the entire exercise is about; that the process will not be deemed credible because we need to all agree on every step of the way, Mokhosi said.
“We are always appalled at the way government handles issues, it is so disappointing, tedious and disheartening and we wonder how the SADC eyes us. We have become so unpredictable in their eyes and it defies logic why Lesotho always has to be forced to implement things as agreed.”
For his part party Secretary General, Teboho Sekata, said “this is not the first time the LCD has pulled out of the reforms. We pulled out in when our leader returned on 26 November 2018. This time government said they were going to arrest him the moment he sets foot in Lesotho upon return from exile.
We pulled out and this worked for us, and now it seems we are back to square one as it seems there are those who now think that the reforms process is over.
We have seen this work for us before and we are resorting to it again as our political solution if it is the only thing that will get us heard and the agreement implemented.”
In conclusion the LCD said they hoped Metsing remains safe wherever he is, but we are yet to find out from him what stopped him from showing face in court as expected.
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