The SADC Wrap: Former Lesotho deputy PM flees to SA, Zanu-PF supports Grace, and Zambia’s ‘silent emergency’

By Kristen Van Schie 4 September 2017

From the DRC and Zambia to Tanzania and Botswana, KRISTEN VAN SCHIE brings you a round-up of news from the region.

Former Lesotho deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing last week fled to South Africa, claiming his life was at risk.

Metsing, who lost his position after a snap poll in June, saw a new coalition government come into power, told the SABC, “I received some threats that there is a plot to have me killed; the plot was going to be executed in either me getting arrested and dying in police custody or by assassination.”

Metsing’s deputy in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party, Tseliso Mokhosi – who had been defence minister in the previous administration – was charged with the murder of a police officer last year. Metsing claims that since new (and former) Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s inauguration, Lesotho has become “a police state”.

It’s worth noting that Metsing and Thabane have history. In 2014, the LCD defected from their two-year-old coalition with Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, accusing the then (and now) prime minister of failing to consult his partners and kicking off a turbulent year that included a nine-month suspension of parliament, a quasi-coup attempt and an early election that ousted Thabane.

Also worth noting, Metsing was at the time being investigated for corruption in a government road-building tender – an investigation which appears to be moving again now that Thabane is back in power.

Speaking to the Lesotho Times, Thabane’s spokesman Thabo Thakalekoala denied that Metsing’s life was at risk “unless he knows something we don’t”.


Zimbabwe last week went into PR overdrive for Grace Mugabe following her alleged assault of a South African model in an incident that made headlines worldwide.

Some 3,000 Zanu-PF party members on Wednesday marched through the capital Harare in support of the First Lady, reports News24, while the state-owned Herald newspaper took out a special supplement “praising Grace Mugabe for her charity work and describing her as ‘a loving mother of the nation’”.

The lady of the hour also made an appearance at a rally for her husband ahead of the upcoming 2018 vote. Reports Reuters: “The first lady did not refer to the incident in her first speech since returning, instead telling a Zanu-PF party rally that supporters should stand behind Africa’s oldest leader in the build-up to next year’s elections.”

Back in South Africa, Mugabe’s diplomatic immunity is being challenged in court. But the hits keep coming at home, as well.

A report released by Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Commission last week condemned the excessive force used by police to evict villagers from a farm said to belong to the first lady.

Children, the elderly and the sick were left without shelter at the height of the rainy season,” reports EWN. “Villagers told the commission that police, acting on the instructions of Mugabe, pulled down their houses and assaulted those who tried to resist.”


Record numbers of Congolese asylum-seekers last week crossed the border into Zambia in an ongoing crisis that has seen nearly a million people flee their homes this year.

The UN’s refugee agency said about 500 people fled into north-western Zambia last Wednesday, “the biggest single entry of new arrivals in three years”, reports the Lusaka Times. This brings the total number of DRC asylum-seekers arriving in Zambia to over 3,000 – just this year.

The agency’s representative to Zambia Pierrine Aylara said limited resources were making it difficult to respond to what she called “the silent emergency”.

According to NGO Oxfam, more people have been displaced in DRC this year than in any other country in the world as militia fighting in the southern Kasai provinces rages on.

Nearly one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the first six months of 2017… yet this latest disaster has so far attracted little international aid or attention,” Oxfam said in a statement last week. DM

Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) accompanied by his wife Grace (R) arrive at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe, 26 August 2017. Mugabe attended the joint burial of Politburo member George Rutanhire and Maud Muzenda, the widow of Zimbabwe’s first Vice Prime Minister Simon Muzenda. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI


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