US gives Le­sotho ul­ti­ma­tum

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

VICE-PRES­I­DENT for Pol­icy and Eval­u­a­tion of the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) Beth Trit­ter has writ­ten a let­ter to Fi­nance Min­is­ter ‘Mam­phono Khaketla ex­press­ing con­cern over “the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity is­sues” in Le­sotho as well as Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s re­cent ad­mo­ni­tion of the United States gov­ern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Trit­ter, these and “other de­vel­op­ments” would be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion later this year when the MCC de­cides if Le­sotho should be awarded a sec­ond Com­pact.

The MCC is a bi­lat­eral Amer­i­can for­eign aid agency es­tab­lished by Congress in 2004, with coun­tries ex­pected to meet cer­tain con­di­tions such as good gov­er­nance and re­spect for the rule of law to qual­ify.

The MCC and Le­sotho signed the first five-year $362.6 mil­lion Com­pact in 2007 in an ef­fort to re­duce poverty and in­crease eco­nomic growth in the im­pov­er­ished King­dom, which largely de­pends on the donor com­mu­nity for sur­vival.

The Com­pact, which came into force in Septem­ber 2008, fo­cused on im­prov­ing the pro­vi­sion of wa­ter sup­plies for both in­dus­trial and do­mes­tic use, im­prov­ing health out­comes and re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers to for­eign and lo­cal pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment.

The Amer­i­cans lav­ished praise on Le­sotho for the way it had im­ple­mented the pro­gramme, and the coun­try was hop­ing to qual­ify for a sec­ond Com­pact.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Ms Trit­ter’s cor­re­spon­dence dated 15 June 2015, un­less Le­sotho ac­counts for the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity un­rest rock­ing the coun­try — and ex­plains Dr Mo­sisili’s dec­la­ra­tion of 8 June 2015 in Maseru that for­eign­ers have no busi­ness med­dling in the coun­try’s in­ter­nal af­fairs — then the King­dom might as well for­get about the sec­ond Com­pact.

Ms Trit­ter’s state­ment to Dr Khaketla reads: “While we have not yet had the plea­sure of meet­ing, I am writ­ing to fol­low up on pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tions you had with the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion in Washington on 16 April 2015, and again in Maseru with my col­league, Deputy Vice-pres­i­dent Jonathan Bloom on 15 May 2015, and in light of Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili’s state­ment from 8 June 2015.

“The MCC ap­pre­ci­ates the close part­ner­ship it has shared with Le­sotho, in­clud­ing the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of a first Com­pact and on-go­ing ef­forts to de­velop a sec­ond Com­pact.

“The MCC’S part­ner­ship with Le­sotho is founded on mu­tual com­mit­ment to good gov­er­nance, which in­cludes ac­count­abil­ity and re­spect for the rule of law.

“These val­ues are fun­da­men­tal to the MCC, and are an es­sen­tial foun­da­tion for suc­cess­ful in­vest­ments that will drive eco­nomic growth.

“As MCC’S Deputy Vice-pres­i­dent Jonathan Bloom shared with you in May 2015, we con­tinue to be con­cerned over the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity is­sues in Le­sotho.

“While we recog­nise sev­eral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have spo­ken on some of these is­sues, both pub­licly and pri­vately, there are some con­cerns which re­main un­ad­dressed”.

Ms Trit­ter then high­lights some of the “ac­count­abil­ity” is­sues which the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment is con­cerned about, among them the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) at­tack on three key po­lice sta­tions on 30 Au­gust 2014, which re­sulted in the death of a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer.

The prime min­is­ter at the time, Dr Thomas Tha­bane, called the at­tack a coup at­tempt af­ter flee­ing the coun­try for South Africa on the eve of the on­slaught which left many Ba­sotho and de­vel­op­ment part­ners rat­tled.

Dr Tha­bane, who was re­placed by Dr Mo­sisili af­ter the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions, ac­cused Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der of be­ing be­hind the at­tempted coup.

The All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader had sacked Lt Gen Kamoli two days ear­lier for al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion — a de­ci­sion he re­fused to ac­cept ar­gu­ing Dr Tha­bane had not fol­lowed due process when ad­vis­ing King Letsie III to re­move him from the post.

How­ever, af­ter his re­turn to power in the wake of the Fe­bru­ary elec­tions which came two years ahead of sched­ule due to the col­lapse of the Dr Tha­bane-led tri­par­tite gov­ern­ment be­cause of dif­fer­ences be­tween the lead­er­ship, Dr Mo­sisili re­stored Lt Gen Kamoli to the helm of the LDF — a de­ci­sion con­demned by the Amer­i­can Em­bassy in Maseru.

Amer­ica’s Am­bas­sador to Le- sotho, Matthew Har­ring­ton, told jour­nal­ists dur­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion: “Le­sotho has missed an op­por­tu­nity to set an ex­am­ple and not re­in­state one of the most po­lar­is­ing fig­ures from that dif­fi­cult pe­riod as com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force.

“There should be ac­count­abil­ity re­gard­ing the 30 Au­gust 2014 in­ci­dents as cer­tain facts are not in dis­pute. Lt Gen Kamoli was dis­missed and there was a raid on po­lice sta­tions. Dur­ing the raid, a po­lice of­fi­cer died and there has not been any ar­rest.

“Lt Gen Kamoli is re­in­stated and there is no pun­ish­ment for the 30 Au­gust in­ci­dents. These are in­ci­dents that took place while he was still in charge of the LDF.

“This all sends a mes­sage that the coun­try is go­ing back­wards and not for­ward.”

Ms Trit­ter, in her let­ter to Dr Khaketla, al­most re­peats what Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton told the re­porters, which elicited Dr Mo­sisili’s acid re­sponse.

“As was sim­i­larly ex­pressed in the US Depart­ment of State’s state­ment on 27 May 2015, the MCC re­mains con­cerned with the lack of ac­count­abil­ity for the Au­gust 2014 po­lit­i­cal un­rest and vi­o­lence be­tween the mil­i­tary and po­lice, and calls for clear en­force­ment of the rule of law and due process within the de­fence forces and in the over­all se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment.

“As dis­cussed in ear­lier meet­ings, we know that these is­sues are not sim­ple; how­ever, re­cent events and ac­tions have gen­er­ated ques­tions about whether Le­sotho will act to af­firm and demon­strate its key com­mit­ment to good gov­er­nance.

“The MCC’S Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and Board of Di­rec­tors, as well as the US Congress, mon­i­tor de­vel­op­ments in our part­ner-coun­tries very closely.

“We an­tic­i­pate that re­cent de­vel­op­ments in Le­sotho will be a sub­ject of dis­cus­sion as we make de­ci­sions on the next steps for de­vel­op­ing the sec­ond Com­pact, and at up­com­ing MCC Board meet­ings later this month and in Septem­ber.

“In early De­cem­ber 2015, the MCC Board will for­mally con­sider whether the MCC should con­tinue de­vel­op­ing a Com­pact with Le­sotho.

“In mak­ing this de­ci­sion, the Board will scru­ti­nise sev­eral fac­tors, in­clud­ing Le­sotho’s per­for­mance on the MCC’S an­nual score­card; sus­tain­abil­ity of the first Com­pact in­vest­ments and progress on the de­vel­op­ment of the sec­ond Com­pact; and Le­sotho’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to good gov­er­nance, and es­pe­cially the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity.

“Well in ad­vance of this De­cem­ber meet­ing, the MCC Board and its stake­hold­ers will seek clear an­swers on all three fronts.

“In par­tic­u­lar, demon­stra­ble ev­i­dence of the steps the gov­ern­ment is tak­ing — es­pe­cially around ac­count­abil­ity, due process, and other as­pects of the rule of law — will be crit­i­cal as the MCC Board ex­am­ines the sit­u­a­tion when con­sid­er­ing con­tin­ued el­i­gi­bil­ity.

“I un­der­stand that the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment has in­cluded se­cu­rity re­form as a core piece of its pol­icy agenda.

“We look for­ward to hear­ing more about this ef­fort. Se­cu­rity sec­tor re­form that builds the con­fi­dence of the Ba­sotho in their gov­ern­ment is crit­i­cal.

“The MCC will con­tinue to co­or­di­nate closely across the US gov­ern­ment on this mat­ter and we look for­ward to learn­ing more about the mea­sures your gov­ern­ment plans to take to en­sure these con­cerns on ac­count­abil­ity and rule of law are ad­dressed”.

Dr Mo­sisili’s spokesper­son Mo­tumi Rale­joe yesterday con­firmed gov­ern­ment’s re­ceipt of Ms Trit­ter’s com­mu­niqué but ex­pressed con­fi­dence Le­sotho would get the sec­ond Com­pact.

“It is not gov­ern­ment’s line of duty to work on the neg­a­tive; Ba­sotho should be hope­ful that Le­sotho will get the sec­ond Com­pact.

“The gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho is open to fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions and dis­cus­sions with the US at all lev­els to un­der­score the so-called con­cerns.

“Fur­ther­more, we highly ap­pre­ci­ate the very im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship that has ex­isted be­tween the two gov­ern­ments for a very long time.

“In­deed, we are look­ing for­ward to con­tin­ued part­ner­ship with the MCC to bet­ter the lives of the peo­ple of Le­sotho through hon­est and un­bi­ased as­sis­tance,” Mr Rale­joe said.

Con­tacted yesterday, US Em­bassy In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer Julie Mckay said she would send the Le­sotho Times a com­ment on the is­sue via email. The email had not been re­ceived by the time of go­ing to press.

De“In early cem­ber 2015, the MCC Board will for­mally con­sider whether the MCC should con­tinue de­vel­op­ing a Com­pact with Le­sotho. In mak­ing this de­ci­sion, the Board will scru­ti­nise sev­eral fac­tors, in­clud­ing Le­sotho’s per­for­mance on the MCC’S an­nual score­card; sus­tain­abil­ity of the first Com­pact in­vest­ments and progress on the de­vel­op­ment of the sec­ond Com­pact; and Le­sotho’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to good gov­er­nance, and es­pe­cially the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili

MIN­IS­TER of Fi­nance ‘Mam­phono Khaketla.

MCC Vice-pres­i­dent for Pol­icy and Eval­u­a­tion Beth Trit­ter.

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