Once again on the 29th of August (Friday night), crises, mayhem, betrayals, backstabbing, ordeals, chaos all that is negative seem to have gone beyond just engulfing Lesotho as yet another coup d’e`tat unsettle the SADC country. The military took over Lesotho government and privately owned radio and television stations resulting in a total media blackout. The militant army also seized police control of many police stations in the country including the police headquarters in the capital city Maseru.
There were also wide unverified claims that there has been gunfire exchange between the military and whoever seemed to be opposing the attempted overthrow the currently constitutionally elected coalition Lesotho government. There is only one accounted civilian life lost as result of the unfolding event.
Deputy Prime Minister is reportedly to be the one who is running the country in the absence of the Prime Minister.
African Voices Web TV can confidently reveal that Prime Minister Tom Thabane who is scared about his safety is currently in South Africa. According to media reports Prime Minister Tom Thabane says he will only return to Lesotho only if he will be guaranteed that his is no longer under threat. One mysterious unanswered question though is whether the Prime Minister was somehow aware about the coup’de’tat way before the time because the coup’de’tat took over literally few hours after he left Lesotho to South Africa.
BACKGROUND The southern African mountainous kingdom isn’t not a stranger to coup’de’tat. There are a couple of documented coup’de’tat attempts since the country’s independence in 1966. The political tension in Lesotho emerged two years ago but only escalated in June this year after Prime Minister Thabane suspended the whole Lesotho cabinet to avoid a no-confidence vote against his two-year strained coalition government leadership. It was that decision that agitated opposition parties. The furious Deputy Prime Minister and also an official opposition leader from the Lesotho Congress Party, Mothetjoa Metsing then subsequently vowed oust Prime Minister Thabane. Few days later the Lesotho Kingdom was faced failed coup’de’tat attempted. The country’s parliament was then closed.
South Africa, in her capacity as a leading member of South African Development Community (SADC) decided came in as a mediator to the crisis.
Since then, Lesotho’s parliament had been closed. This has made it very difficult for some other country’s affairs to continue working until today.
If the Lesotho or the world had to take the June Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s decision (odd & unconstitutional as it was or still is) it then means there was the one parliamentary member and that’s Prime Minister Tom Thabane. So the Friday night alleged coup d’e`tat took place with that political situation in place.
On Saturday afternoon, just a few hours into the coup attempt, our sources in Lesotho said the situation at the capital was slightly calmer. The source added that there was visible intimidation by the military. The army could be seen patrolling the streets and guarding the prime minister’s official residence. The majority of the country’s economic strategic key institutions like banks and business industrial centers were closed.
Lesotho’s defense forces spokesman Ntlele Ntoi rubbished the claims that army’s involvement was coup or even playing part in any factionalism politics within Lesotho.“We are not in a position now or in the future to stage a coup. All we do is to carry out our mandate to secure our country and property.”Ntoi said the army was mere reacting to a espionage intelligence leaked bloodshed terror threat. He said now the situation on the ground seemed to have come to normal “The military has returned to the barracks,” Ntoi said
The Republic of South Africa government criticized the military’s opportunistic coup’de’tat intervention. While addressing the media at the government South African headquarters in Pretoria Union Buildings on Saturday the 30th of August, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said will always advocate for peaceful political negotiations rather than destructive violent ways of resolving problems. “South Africa wishes to reaffirm the AU position and warn that such unconstitutional change of government shall not be tolerated.”said the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson.
He further emphased that the modern day constitutional democracy demands that the search for amicable solution finding should and must always be top of agenda in cases of such conflicts, where no political ideological rivalry principle should ever be resolved through violent means.
On Sunday the 31st of August, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Namibia’s president Hifikepunye Pohamba are met with both Lesotho’s coalition leaders. The outcome of that meeting isn’t yet known but it is believed that President Zuma and President Pohambaonce again reaffirmed the SADC and AU position on both parties to strive for amicable dialogue solution rather than violent means. If that resolution plan fail to find resonance in both Thabane and Metsing then the African Union would then have to intervene.
There are varying opinions with regards to the situation in Lesostho. Senzo Hlope, a young masters in policy and administration student and a member of Activate Leadership believes that more and more African leaders suffer from the chronic disease which is complete disregard of the rule of law. Hlophe cited the removal of former South African President, Thabo Mbeki as well as the recent Arab ousting of leadership. According to Hlope, the removal of these leaders was improper and unconstitutional and added “..this mighty be caused by the moral vacuum which is the result of frustration with the restrictions that are prescribed by the rule of law.“
On the other head another Africa patriotic youth leader from Bloemfontein Sithembiso Nhlapo lamented old age power hungry patriarch leadership and opportunistic western third force factionalism among some African countries.“Surely there’s lack of consultation in this (Lesotho) coalition government might be the reasons of such political turmoil in Lesotho.” said Nhlapo
While other some South African political commentators strongly believe that the Lesotho Congress Party might perpetrators of recent coup to either oust the current Prime Minister Tom Thabane or force Lesotho government to reopen the country’s parliament.
By Lwazi Nyanakancesh Nongauza
Reporting for African Voices Web TV
Johannesburg – South Africa.