Africa In The News

Lesotho prime minister’s wife shot dead hours prior to inauguration

JOHANNESBURG, June 15 – South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to attend the inauguration of Lesotho’s new Prime Minister Tom Thabane on Friday, this despite the murder of Thabane’s estranged wife in a shooting that some have speculated could have been politically motivated.

Lipolelo Thabane and Thato Sibolla, who works for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, were shot Wednesday night as they travelled home on the outskirts of the capital Maseru.

Lipolelo Thabane succumbed to her injuries early Thursday morning in hospital, just a day before the swearing in of premier-elect Tom Thabane.

In a statement on Friday morning, Ramaphosa’s office made no mention of the shooting, instead saying that Ramaphosa – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator in Lesotho – would on Friday pay an official visit to Maseru where he is set to join regional and international leaders during the inauguration of the Prime Minister-elect Thabane.

“The inauguration follows the recent general elections that were characterised by the SADC and African Union election observer missions as largely peaceful,” the statement said.

“Deputy President Ramaphosa extended his profound congratulations to the people of Lesotho and commended them for conducting peaceful elections while urging all stakeholders to accept the outcome of the elections.

“The Deputy President reiterated his view that the holding of democratic elections in the Kingdom of Lesotho underlines the determination of the people of the region and the continent to ensure good political and economic governance as part of the building blocs towards the renewal of the continent and the achievement of Agenda 2063.”

Ronnie Mamoepa, the spokesman for Ramaphosa, had earlier said “the deputy president is aware of the developments,” and that “security forces” would ensure that the inauguration “runs smoothly”.

However, the shooting has spiked fears of increasing instability in the land-locked mountain kingdom which has gone through a series of crises leading up to the inauguration.

In 2014 Thabane, who won the country’s elections earlier this month, fled to South Africa fearing for his life following an attempted coup.

The premier-elect only returned to Mbabane earlier this year, together with two other opposition leaders, after vowing to regain power after previously ruling the country from 2012 to 2015.

In March Lesotho’s parliament passed a vote of no confidence in outgoing Prime Minister Pakalithi Mosili, paving the way for the June 3 election which Thabane won after securing 48 out of 120 parliamentary seats.

Although Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) emerged as the winner in Friday’s election with the 48 parliamentary seats, it failed to garner the requisite 61 seats needed to form a government.

This prompted Thabane to say that ABC would form a ruling coalition together with the Alliance Democrats, Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.

Thabane’s win reverses Lesotho’s former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing teaming up with Mosisili and other smaller parties to oust Thabane two years ago.

Lesotho, a nation of two million people, has been wracked by several coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

International Relations and Co-operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, warned on Sunday that the SADC would not tolerate any military coup “in any of its corner”.

“This was made very, very clear to everyone in Lesotho two weeks ago. They have just had an election a year and a half ago and they have also undertaken to go back to the reforms on the role of the police and the military, which have been supporting leaders from opposing parties which they themselves say has bedevilled focus on governance,” she was quoted as saying

Ramaphosa has been mandated by the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Swaziland, working with the support of the Oversight Committee, to convene a multi-stakeholder dialogue forum.

This is in order to build consensus for the implementation of SADC decisions, including the constitutional and security sector reforms and recommendations of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry.

Lesotho security forces are on high alert as the country prepares for the inauguration of incoming Prime Minister Tom Thabane following the death of his wife Thursday morning after she was shot overnight.

Just hours before her estranged husband was due to step into his new role as Prime Minister of Lesotho, Lipolelo Thabane died in hospital Thursday morning following what appears to be a random shooting Wednesday night.

However, there is speculation that the shooting which killed Lipolelo and another woman could have been politically motivated despite details surrounding the incident remaining unclear.

Furthermore, these dramatic developments have spiked fears of increasing instability in the land-locked mountain kingdom which has gone through a series of crises leading up to the inauguration.

In 2014 Thabane, who won the country’s elections earlier this month, fled to South Africa fearing for his life following an attempted coup.

The premier-elect only returned to Mbabane earlier this year, together with two other opposition leaders, after vowing to regain power after previously ruling the country from 2012 to 2015.

On Sunday International Relations and Co-operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, warned that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) would not tolerate any military coup “in any of its corner”.

“This was made very, very clear to everyone in Lesotho two weeks ago. They have just had an election a year and a half ago and they have also undertaken to go back to the reforms on the role of the police and the military, which have been supporting leaders from opposing parties which they themselves say has bedevilled focus on governance,” she was quoted as saying.

In March Lesotho’s parliament passed a vote of no confidence in outgoing Prime Minister Pakalithi Mosili, paving the way for the June 3 election which Thabane won after securing 48 out of 120 parliamentary seats.

Although Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) emerged as the winner in the election with the 48 parliamentary seats, it failed to garner the requisite 61 seats needed to form a government.

This prompted Thabane to say that ABC would form a ruling coalition together with the Alliance Democrats, Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.

Thabane’s win reverses Lesotho’s former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing teaming up with Mosisili and other smaller parties to oust Thabane two years ago.

Lesotho, a nation of two million people, has been wracked by several coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

ANA

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