Fears of further political hiccups in Lesotho ….as First Lady’s death probe unfolds

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - Fears are rising that the ongoing investigations in Lesotho regarding the death of the county’s former First Lady, Lipolelo Thabane, could further destablise the country’s political environment, also straining SADC’s efforts to bring a lasting solution to the county’s political glitches.

Police in Lesotho have been calling on Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to reveal the whereabouts of his second wife, Maesaiah Thabane, 43, who  has been on the run for two weeks now since a warrant of her arrest was issued in connection with the murder of the Prime Minister’s first wife, Lipolelo Thabane, in 2017.

Maesaiah disappeared after she was summoned by police to answer questions on the investigation with reports suggesting she could have skipped Lesotho into South Africa, though police could not confirm this.

The Prime Minister has since been under pressure after the opposition and his own ABC party called for him to vacate office, accusing him of shielding his wife.

“To date, we have received tips of where she could be but all those that we have followed so far have not yielded any positive results. We are still working on other processes to engage Interpol, but for now we have only issued a notice of wanted person locally.

“We have called in a few people already in connection to her going missing but I am not in a position to disclose their names because we need to give them witness protection," said police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, on Tuesday.

Last week, SADC chief mediator to Lesotho, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, sent former minister Jeff Radebe as envoy to Prime Minister Tom Thabane in connection with the issue.

Thabane told the envoy that he was ready to retire amid the political drama triggered by his own issues.

The coalition government is, however, yet to work out the legal process to follow regarding his retirement.

“It was proper for the Prime Minister to inform the neighbours of his intentions (to retire),” Lesotho Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Chief Thesele Maseribane, said.

He said Thabane had informed the king and coalition partners that he wanted to retire.

“We need to understand that it is a process, there should be some constitutional requirements. There should be arrangements that have to be done. An official statement is still awaiting that. We need to inform other stakeholders also of this honourable intention of retirement,” Maseribane added.

He said top legal minds were working on a way forward.

“We will support all the measures and decision that the honourable Prime Minister and the people of Lesotho are making and SA is ever ready to put its shoulder to the wheel because that is what a good neighbour does,” said Radebe after meeting with the Prime Minister.

Radebe said more announcements were expected in the next few days.

He said they were very optimistic about the political developments in Lesotho.

On December 23, police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, wrote a letter to Thabane informing him that his mobile number had been picked to have communicated with one of the assailants at the scene of the murder of Lipolelo.

The letter asked Thabane, 80, to furnish police with information that could help them with the name and whereabouts of that particular person and what their conversation was about.

However, the Prime Minister then attempted to remove Molibeli from office. Molibeli took the matter to court and was granted relief to stay in office until its finalisation next month.

Last week, in another twist in the dramatic case, police called some high ranking officials for questioning as part of investigations.

The officials include the Minister of Water Affairs, Samonyane Ntsekele, who is also former secretary general of Thabane’s All Basotho Convention party, the government secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, and the leader of Basotho National Party, Chief Thesele Maseribane.

 

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