By Billy Ntaote
MASERU-The Minister of Home Affairs Mr Joang Molapo has accused former Prime Minister Dr Ntsu Mokhehle of betraying Basotho and “going into bed” with apartheid South Africa, which he said led to the signing of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Treaty in 1986 the current government now wants reviewed.
According to Molapo, who is the Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader, Mokhehle allegedly sold out while he was commander of the Lesotho Liberation Army and living in exile in South Africa.
Addressing party supporters during last Sunday’s commemoration in Maseru, of the January 20, 1986 military coup that overthrew the BNP government led by Dr Leabua Jonathan, Molapo said Basotho deserved to benefit more from the water deal, insisting the agreement favours South Africa.
Under the Treaty, Lesotho supplies water to South Africa’s Gauteng province and receives monthly royalties in return.
But Molapo told the BNP supporters the agreement was outdated and needed to be revisited.
The Home Affairs minister charged the then white South African government was not willing to pay reasonable royalties for Lesotho’s water and had sought people it could use to sign an agreement beneficial to Pretoria and not Maseru.
To achieve this, South Africa ended-up facilitating a military coup in Lesotho in order to get people who could sign the water deal, Molapo said.
The coalition government of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and BNP that came into power after the May 26, 2012 general election, was now working hard to secure a better deal for the country, Molapo said.
“We have already told South Africa we are ready to renegotiate the Lesotho Highlands Water Treaty. The agreement is less than satisfactory. We know we can do better for our people and we will do better for them,” Molapo said.
Molapo then tore into Mokhehle, further insisting the then ruling BNP was overthrown by agents of apartheid South Africa disguised as members of Lesotho’s military. He then turned to the LLA, which was fighting the BNP government.
“The LLA was a creation of the apartheid regime and it was meant to lead the destruction of Lesotho and our government.”
To substantiate these claims, Molapo said his father, Mooki Molapo, who was then Lesotho’s Foreign Affairs Minister, reportedly had a meeting with the then South African president, Piet Botha, regarding the signing of the water agreement.
“Botha told my father that if the BNP government signed a deal that favoured South Africa, it would be the end of the LLA.
“They (LLA) were in bed with enemies of this country; they were in bed with apartheid South Africa. And they were using the logic that says your enemy’s enemy is your friend.”
Contacted yesterday for comment, the Lesotho Liberation Army Veterans Association secretary general, Mr Khotso Morojele, accused Molapo of “distorting the truth”.
Morojele further charged Molapo’s utterances were “those of people trying to conceal their sins”.
According to Morojele, the Lesotho Liberation Army—the armed wing of the Basutoland Congress Party led by Mokhehle—was formed to protect the Lesotho constitution that had been suspended by Dr Jonathan.
“They don’t scare us when they talk like that because they don’t want to admit they committed very shocking and wicked crimes in the past.
“It’s very unfortunate that the Congress parties that have been in government never established commissions so that the truth could be told about the past. This would have led to the healing of old wounds that all those who engaged in the struggle for liberation suffered,” said Morojele.
He pointed out everybody would always try to distort the truth regarding the past whenever they have platforms to do so.
Meanwhile, the deputy leader of the Democratic Congress (DC), former Natural Resources minister, Mr Monyane Moleleki, who was part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in various capacities, dismissed allegations of Mokhehle’s betrayal.
Moleleki said: “That’s absolutely preposterous nonsense. There was never a time Mokhehle was in bed with the enemy. If ever there was a radical person, it was Ntate Mokhehle.”
Moleleki added the Lesotho government was advised by its consultants it could not impose a price per litre of water under the deal with South Africa, but should focus on a certain formula.
“We used a formula that was agreed upon then. He (Molapo) doesn’t know what he is talking about as he was still young then. He is just ignorant.”
He added: “If they have another causal linkage with South Africa now and they can come up with a better deal for Lesotho, I’d be the first to clap my hands.”
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