Former Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane who is currently leader of the opposition in Lesotho has vowed never to set foot in Lesotho unless the situation in that country is normalised.
In an exclusive interview with The Patriot on Sunday from his safe haven in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday, Thabane denied that he has ever come to Botswana to seek refuge. “I have always been in Pretoria and didn’t cross to Botswana and believe that there is an assumption that just because Gaborone is the headquarters for the regional block might go there which is nonsensical ,” he said.
Asked if he has applied for asylum status in South Africa, he answered in negative but said that he will be applying for one next week Monday. “I will be applying for asylum status next week because I have realised that the situation in Lesotho will never be normal and the future of Lesotho politics looks bleak,” said the leader of All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.
Thabane said that the reason that forced him to flee his home country was after he realised that there were plans to assassinate him. He said that his fears were confirmed when former Lesotho Defence Force commander Maaparankoe Mahao was shot dead by soldiers last week. Mahao was an ally of Thabane and bitter rival of the current army general Chief Tlali Kamoli and Thabane feels that the assiasination was politically motivated. The assassination of General Mahao has plunged the country of population of over two million people into more political crisis.
The crisis led to South African President Jacob Zuma who is the chairman of SADC double troika on Politics, Defence and Security to call an emergency meeting to solve the crisis. The SADC troika was expected to meet in Pretoria, on Friday to discuss the crisis in Lesotho and Thabane said that he was not invited to the meeting but added that he will readily attend if called. “It is their meeting and they called it and I don’t know why I was not invited to attend,” he said, when asked if he feels that he should have been invited to the troika meeting as he is one of the affected parties.
President Ian Khama left the BDP elective congress on Friday to attend the emergency meeting which was also attended by Zimbabwean and Namibian Presidents, Robert Mugabe and Hage Geingob. Zimbabwe and Namibia have sent their intelligence agents to investigate the killing of General Mahao and South African pathologists will do examinations. This was revealed by the South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during a press briefing recently about the crisis in the tiny mountainous country.
Thabane’s troubles started after the coalition that his party had with Lesotho Congress for Democracy of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing fractured leading to him fleeing to South Africa last year. Before he fled to South Africa, Thabane suspended parliament after there were plans by the deputy Prime Minister Metsing to pass a motion of no confidence on Thabane’s party which could have led to him losing power. When in South Africa last year, Thabane asked President Zuma to send troops to Lesotho to intervene which was turned down. Instead South Africa sent it Special Forces to protect him (Thabane).
A peace deal was reached after mediation by Pretoria leading to early elections which were won by Phakalitha Mosisisli in tight elections in March this year who then formed a coalition with Metsing. nSince 1986 the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho has never had peaceful elections with Botswana and South Africa forced to intervene in 1998. It is one of only five countries on the continent with a purely parliamentary system, where the legislature and the executive are interlinked.