How a Love Triangle Murder Case in Africa Has Claimed the Turbulent Career of a Veteran PM

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane arrives to address the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, US, September 28, 2018.
Image Credit: Reuters

Johannesburg: A love triangle murder case that made front page news proved one problem too many for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who survived repeated security crises to become Lesotho’s dominant politician but is expected to submit his resignation on Wednesday.

The 80-year-old’s ruling coalition collapsed in parliament on Monday, leaving him until May 22 to leave office. On Tuesday night French news agency AFP quoted him as saying he would inform King Letsie III of his intention to leave in a letter the following day.

His departure brings down the curtain on a career marked by exile, political feuding, intrigue and strains with the military.

Thabane leaves nearly three years after the event that stunned his fellow citizens and overshadowed his second term in office, the unsolved killing of his then wife Lipolelo in June 2017.

Police this year accused his current wife, Maesaiah, of assassinating Lipolelo. Police also accuse Thabane of being involved, but have yet to bring their charges to court.

Both he and Maesaiah have repeatedly denied having anything to do with the killing of Lipolelo, who was shot dead while driving her car towards her home just outside of the capital.

But the charges plunged the country into turmoil and battered Thabane’s prestige and influence. Voices in his own party began pushing for him to be declared unfit for office.

Maesaiah Thabane, wife of Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane poses for a photograph at State House in Maseru, Lesotho, February 18, 2020.
Image Credit: Reuters

It is not the first time Thabane, a stocky, shaven-headed figure fond of quoting Bible passages, has been at the centre of intrigue.

In 2014, he fled the mountainous kingdom to neighbouring South Africa after accusing the military of having staged a coup against him, which the military denied at the time. South African security forces had to escort him back.

Thabane was born on May 28, 1939, in what was then Britain’s colony of Basutoland, composed of mountains running along South Africa’s Drakensberg range. Lesotho is often nicknamed the ‘kingdom in the sky’ because its lowest point of elevation is higher than any other nation’s.

Though small and with a population of not much more than 2 million, its political upheavals often draw in its bigger neighbour, South Africa, a parched country that gets essential supplies of tap water from Lesotho’s well-rained mountains.

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SOURCE: Gulf News / Reuters