Le­sotho’s des­tiny lies with Ba­sotho: SA min­is­ter

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

South Africa’s In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co­op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter, Maite Nkoana-masha­bane, says Le­sotho’s des­tiny can only be de­ter­mined by Ba­sotho while the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity just plays a sup­port­ive role in en­sur­ing sta­bil­ity in the king­dom.

Ms Nkoana-masha­bane, who made the re­mark at the launch of the Southern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Elec­toral ob­server Mis­sion to Le­sotho’s 2015 Na­tional Assem­bly Elec­tions in Maseru yes­ter­day, urged Ba­sotho to en­sure a peace­ful poll and po­lit­i­cal par­ties to ac­cept the out­come.

“Fol­low­ing the procla­ma­tion of 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 as the date to hold the Na­tional Assem­bly Elec­tions, Le­sotho, in ac­cor­dance with pro­vi­sions of SADC prin­ci­ples and guide­lines gov­ern­ing demo­cratic elec­tions, in­vited SADC to ob­serve the polls.

“It was against this back­ground that the chair­per­son of the SADC or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, con­sti­tuted the SADC Elec­toral ob­server Mis­sion to ob­serve the elec­tions, and ap­pointed me as head of Mis­sion — an as­sign­ment I ac­cepted with great hu­mil­ity.”

the min­is­ter added the im­por­tance of elec­tions could not be overem­pha­sized in a demo­cratic society.

“It is in­deed with a deep sense of pride that we ac­knowl­edge elec­tionob­ser­va­tion has be­come the norm and part and par­cel of demo­cratic pro­cesses in our re­gion, and in­deed, demo­cratic val­ues that un­der­pin our re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tion. “It is also im­por­tant to un­der­score that elec­tions pro­vide a plat­form for gen­uine and true par­tic­i­pa­tion of the peo­ple in the po­lit­i­cal and gov­er­nance process, through elect­ing lead­ers of their choice.

“Within the SADC fam­ily, of which the King­dom of Le­sotho is an in­te­gral part, we long recog­nised the pri­macy of elec­tions in a democ­racy.“in the case of Le­sotho, the cur­rent elec­tions are be­ing held in par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances since they are part of a joint effort by Ba­sotho and the re­gion to find a last­ing so­lu­tion that will lead to peace, se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the king­dom.

“Ba­sotho there­fore, de­serve to be con­grat­u­lated for hav­ing cho­sen a peace­ful route to re­solve their po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges.

how­ever, it is im­por­tant to em­pha­sise the on-go­ing di­a­logue among Ba­sotho in their quest for peace, se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity , is fully sup­ported and fa­cil­i­tated by SADC, but at the end, the de­ci­sion lies in the hands of the peo­ple to re­solve their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences peace­fully and re­build and de­velop their own na­tion.”

Ms Nkoana-masha­bane fur­ther said the ob­server mis­sion had a “pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity to es­tab­lish whether the elec­tions have been con­ducted in a man­ner that is peace­ful, free and fair, trans­par­ent and cred­i­ble.”her Mis­sion, she added, would be in Le­sotho af­ter the elec­tions to en­sure the out­come is ac­cepted by all par­ties, and any chal­lenge of the re­sult done ac­cord­ing to the law. “the Mis­sion will con­tinue to ob­serve the post- elec­tion pe­riod in or­der to de­ter­mine the ac­cep­tance and re­spect of the elec­tion re­sults by po­lit­i­cal par­ties as pro­claimed by com­pe­tent Na­tional Elec­toral Au­thor­i­ties in ac­cor­dance with the laws of the land.

“the Mis­sion would also en­sure any chal­lenge to the elec­tion re­sults is to be con­ducted as pro­vided for in the laws of the land.

“Fol­low­ing to­day’s launch, mem­bers of the or­gan troika, led by my­self, and sup­ported by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Namibia, as the out­go­ing Chair of the or­gan, will en­gage with the lead­er­ship of Le­sotho, po­lit­i­cal par­ties, civil society or­gan­i­sa­tions, the me­dia as well as the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.

“the pur­pose of our in­ter­ac­tion will be to lis­ten to all in­ter­ested par­ties and stake­hold­ers, to be ap­prised of the state of prepa­ra­tions ahead of the elec­tion and as­sess the state of readi­ness.”

“As per tra­di­tion on elec­tion ob­ser­va­tion, SADC ob­servers will be vis­i­ble prior to, and on vot­ing day wher­ever pos­si­ble, to af­firm SADC’S com­mit­ment and sup­port to fel­low peo­ples of the King­dom of Le­sotho in their quest for democ­racy.

“As we head to the ac­tual Elec­tion Day, it is our hope that all po­lit­i­cal par­ties will, as usual, con­duct them­selves in a man­ner that con­trib­utes to a peace­ful, free and fair, demo­cratic elec­tion, as this coun­try has done pre­vi­ously.

“May this elec­tion also be an in­di­ca­tion of true cit­i­zenry par­tic­i­pa­tion in the po­lit­i­cal process by the peo­ple of the King­dom of Le­sotho. We fur­ther wish to in­form you the SADC pre­lim­i­nary state­ment on the elec­toral process will be re­leased on 2 March 2015.”

Le­sotho is hold­ing an elec­tion two years ahead of sched­ule due to sharp dif­fer­ences be­tween the lead­ers of the tri­par­tite govern­ment led by Prime Min­is­ter thomas tha­bane.

Head of Sadc elec­tion Ob­server Mis­sion Maite Nkoana-masha­bana

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