SOUTH AFRICAN Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has travelled to neighbouring Lesotho to help resolve the deepening crisis there.
The Southern African Development Community said in a statement yesterday that President Jacob Zuma had decided to dispatch Mr Ramaphosa following last week’s assassination of former Lesotho Defence Force commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao and an exodus of political opposition leaders to South Africa.
Gen Mahao, a supporter of former prime minister Tom Thabane and his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, was shot dead by soliders outside his home last Thursday.
The general’s 13-year-old son, who was with him, said that three army lorries had blocked their way as they tried to drive out of the front gate. His father threw his hands up immediately, but soldiers shot him anyway.
Gen Mahao’s son said that the soldiers promised to drive his father to hospital, but took him to a barracks instead.
Mr Ramaphosa brokered a settlement to the mountain kingdom’s previous political crisis last August.
After then prime minister Mr Thabane sacked army commander General Tlali Kamoli and and replaced him with Gen Mahao, Gen Komali ordered his troops to attack the two men’s homes, prompting both to flee to South Africa.
The SADC intervened and Mr Thabane was reinstated with the proviso that elections set for 2017 be brought forward to February this year.
Generals Kamoli and Mahao and police chief Khothatso Tsooana — also loyal to Mr Thabane — were all removed from their posts as part of the deal to depoliticise the security forces, which had been divided into factions for decades.
Pakalitha Mosisili’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy won the elections, with the ABC coming a close second.
After Mr Mosisili took power, he reinstated Gen Kamoli and accused Gen Mahao and Mr Tsooana of mutiny.
Congress of Lesotho Trade Unions general secretary Vuyani Tyhali paid tribute to his friend General Mahao, saying he was “a true democrat, visionary and revolutionary.”
Mr Tyhali recalled Gen Mahao’s past in the student movement at the National University of Lesotho and his solidarity activities with the liberation struggles in South Africa and Zimbabwe, which included sheltering members of ANC armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe in student accommodation.