US threat­ens to cut aid over Kamoli

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

THE United States gov­ern­ment has al­legedly threat­ened to with­draw aid to Le­sotho should the coali­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion fail to ad­here to “demo­cratic prin­ci­ples” and ob­serve the rule of law as en­shrined in the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to some Ba­sotho work­ing at the Amer­i­can Em­bassy in Maseru, their man­age­ment this week in­formed them that Le­sotho’s rat­ings on good gov­er­nance — which is one of the cri­te­ria the United States gov­ern­ment uses to de­ter­mine its aid ben­e­fi­cia­ries — would be “se­verely af­fected” if the coali­tion gov­ern­ment pro­ceeds to re-ap­point Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli as Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der and “il­le­gally” re­moves Lt Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

Lt Gen Kamoli was dis­missed as LDF com­man­der in Au­gust 2014, but re­fused to va­cate the post for Lt Gen Ma­hao, ar­gu­ing then Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane had not fol­lowed due process in re­liev­ing him of the post for al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

How­ever, the newly-in­stalled seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Demo­cratic Congress (DC) leader, Pakalitha Mo­sisili, has since in­di­cated that Lt Gen Kamoli is the right­ful com­man­der of the LDF — and de­clared that Lt Gen Ma­hao’s ap­point­ment was il­le­gal.

Dr Mo­sisili last week gave Lt Gen Ma­hao seven days to “show cause” why he should not be fired from the post to which he was ap­pointed “il­le­gally” on 29 Au­gust 2014.

Ac­cord­ing to the work­ers, this devel­op­ment — and the fact that Lt Gen Kamoli has not been cleared of wrong­do­ing for the LDF at­tacks of three key Maseru po­lice sta­tions on the morn­ing of 30 Au­gust 2014, which Dr Tha­bane later said was a coup at­tempt — had made the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment cau­tious in its deal­ings with the gov­ern­ment, which came to power last month.

The work­ers also said the Amer­i­cans were con­cerned that no-one had been charged for the 27 Jan­uary 2014 bomb­ings of three Maseru homes. Ac­cord­ing to the work­ers, the Amer­i­cans said they per­ceived th­ese as acts of ter­ror­ism and the US gov­ern­ment “does not deal with ter­ror­ists”.

“What this means is that all the aid agen­cies which are bankrolled by the US gov­ern­ment could endup with­hold­ing fund­ing or sim­ply putting devel­op­ment projects on hold to the detri­ment of Le­sotho’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment,” said one of the work­ers on con­di­tion of anonymity for fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion.

“The US is in­ter­ested in as­sist­ing Le­sotho in any way pos­si­ble, but this could change if the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment is not care­ful in how it deals with gov­er­nance is­sues.

“For in­stance, one of the con­di­tions for coun­tries to qual­ify for AGOA (African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act) is good gov­er­nance and ob­serv­ing the rule of law, and by re-ap­point­ing Kamoli to the LDF post, the Amer­i­cans could feel un­com­fort­able about it.

“We were told that we could find that by De­cem­ber this year when the score-cards are as­sessed for qual­i­fi­ca­tion to the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) com­pact, our coun­try would not be qual­i­fy­ing any­more as a re­sult of our gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to ad­here to demo­cratic prin­ci­ples and the rule of law.

“The man­age­ment also em­pha­sised on AGOA, which as we all know, is very cru­cial to Le­sotho’s eco­nomic sur­vival.”

AGOA is a leg­is­la­tion ap­proved by the Amer­i­can Congress in May 2000 to as­sist sub-sa­ha­ran economies and im­prove re­la­tions be­tween the con­ti­nent and the US. The law pro­vides trade pref­er­ences for quota and duty-free en­try into the United States for cer­tain goods, no­tably tex­tile prod­ucts.

The leg­is­la­tion has played a big role in sus­tain­ing Le­sotho’s tex­tile in­dus­try, which is the sin­gle big­gest pri­vate sec­tor em­ployer with ap­prox­i­mately 39 000 work­ers, and should the coun­try be re­moved from the list of ben­e­fit­ting na­tions, it goes with­out say­ing that the in­dus­try would be se­verely af­fected if not com­pletely col­lapse, leav­ing scores of fam­i­lies des­ti­tute in the process.

Con­tacted for com­ment on the is­sue, the US Em­bassy Public Af­fairs Of­fi­cer, Julie Mckay said in a state­ment: “The United States re­mains a com­mit­ted part­ner to the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho and Ba­sotho peo­ple and is proud to sup­port Le­sotho as it works to fight HIV/ AIDS, strengthen demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, and pro­mote eco­nomic growth.

“The long-stand­ing com­mit­ment of the United States to sup­port­ing good gov­er­nance and the rule of law around the world is well-es­tab­lished and our for­eign as­sis­tance pro­grammes re­flect that com­mit­ment”.

Ms Mckay fur­ther said an ex­am­ple of her coun­try’s com­mit­ment to devel­op­ment is the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) — a bi­lat­eral United States for­eign aid agency es­tab­lished by the Amer­i­can Congress in 2004.

“Coun­tries are determined to be el­i­gi­ble to sub­mit com­pact pro­pos­als based, in part, on their per- for­mance on the MCC score­card which looks at each coun­try’s con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to rul­ing justly, eco­nomic free­dom, and in­vest­ing in its peo­ple.

“Com­pact el­i­gi­bil­ity is as­sessed on an on-go­ing ba­sis. A demon­stra­ble com­mit­ment to the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity are also crit­i­cal pil­lars for the MCC,” said Ms Mckay.

She pointed out that in De­cem­ber 2013, Le­sotho qual­i­fied for the MCC Com­pact, based on sev­eral fac­tors.

“This de­ci­sion was based on Le­sotho’s strong per­for­mance on the MCC score­card, and com­mit­ment to the MCC part­ner­ship and prin­ci­ples. Be­yond ex­pect­ing a con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to good gov­er­nance, en­sur­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of Com­pact I in­vest­ments and ad­vanc­ing im­por­tant pol­icy re­forms will also be im­por­tant ways for the gov­ern­ment to demon­strate its con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to the MCC part­ner­ship,” said Ms Mckay.

She added that Le­sotho’s con­tin­ued devel­op­ment de­pended on the abil­ity of the coun­try’s lead­ers to “move for­ward to­gether in a man­ner that builds con­fi­dence among all Ba­sotho”.

She added the United States had wel­comed the com­mit­ment of the seven par­ties’ coali­tion gov­ern­ment to re­store Le­sotho’s sta­bil­ity and in­tro­duce con­sti­tu­tional and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms.

In ad­di­tion to the DC, the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy, Popular Front for Democ­racy, Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress, Ba­sotho Congress Party, Mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party and Na­tional In­de­pen­dent Party are also part of the new gov­ern­ment.

“We wel­come the com­mit­ment by the new gov­ern­ment, ar­tic­u­lated in its coali­tion agree­ment, to en­hance sta­bil­ity and en­gage in par­lia­men­tary, civil ser­vice and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms, and will look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­port those re­form ef­forts,” said Mckay.

The Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, Te­bello Mets­ing, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that he was not aware of such threats from the Amer­i­cans. Mr Mets­ing em­pha­sised the Us-le­sotho re­la­tion­ship was based on “mu­tual re­spect and non-in­ter­fer­ence in the other coun­try’s gov­er­nance”.

He added: “I doubt the US would make such threats as we work on a mu­tual ba­sis and with­out their in­ter­fer­ence in our lo­cal is­sues as a coun­try. I also fail to un­der­stand how Lt Gen Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment would af­fect our coun­try’s democ­racy.”

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli.

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