Thomas Thabane and Cyril Ramaphosa at the State House in Maseru, Lesotho, in February. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

Maseru -

The tenuous peace brokered by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in Lesotho recently is in danger of unravelling after former prime minister Thomas Thabane fled the country vowing not to return without safety guarantees from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Thabane’s decision came hard on the heels of the murder of Thabiso Tsosane, businessman and financial backer of his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.

Tsosane was shot dead on May 9. No one has been arrested and Thabane’s supporters have vowed revenge, raising the spectre of more instability in the kingdom.

In a week of drama, the new coalition government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili announced at the weekend the return of Tlali Kamoli as commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

Kamoli led an attempted coup on August 30 last year, forcing Thabane to flee and plunging Lesotho into turmoil.

Thabane had fired Kamoli a day earlier and appointed Maaparankoe Mahao.

Thabane only returned under the heavy guard of the SAPS, his protectors until their withdrawal on March 31.

Under one of several deals brokered by Ramaphosa, Kamoli and Mahao as well as police commissioner Khothatso Tsooana were sent on foreign sabbaticals to try to end the feuding between the army and police.

The army backed Deputy Prime Minister Methotjoa Metsing, Thabane’s then-coalition government partner, while the police supported Thabane.

After taking power in snap elections on February 28, Mosisili’s coalition is reversing virtually all Thabane’s major decisions.

His coalition with Metsing lasted only about two and a half years because of constant feuding between them.

The Mosisili government gazetted Kamoli’s reinstatement at the weekend while nullifying Mahao’s appointment.

Kamoli’s re-appointment is backdated to August 29, the day Thabane fired him, meaning the new coalition has elected not to recognise his dismissal in the first place.

Thabane’s ABC previously threatened protests if Kamoli was reinstated, accusing the LDF commander of committing several crimes in which lives were lost, including the August 30 attempted putsch.

Kamoli’s return is sending cold shivers down many spines.

Thabane’s supporters fear the LDF commander may seek to revenge his firing and entrench the coalition’s position underpinned at present by a slim majority of about five seats


Independent Foreign Service