. . . con­vinces SADC to probe ex-premier

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili has asked the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry to make three “im­por­tant” ad­di­tions to its terms of ref­er­ence.

The 12-mem­ber probe team, which ar­rived in the coun­try on Mon­day this week, had ini­tially been tasked with in­ves­ti­gat­ing cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) Com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao out­side his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015.

Bri­gadier Ma­hao was fa­tally shot by LDF mem­bers, al­legedly as he re­sisted ar­rest af­ter be­ing fin­gered as the ring-leader of a mutiny plot in the army.

In ad­di­tion, the SADC Com­mis­sion, led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana, was ex­pected to “re­view LDF in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the al­leged mutiny plot”. The re­view was ex­pected to cover the “al­leged kid­nap of for­mer LDF mem­bers and killing of mem­bers of op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties”.

The panel was also man­dated to probe “the le­gal­ity and man­ner of the re­moval of Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF in Au­gust 2014 and his reap­point­ment in May this year”.

SADC also man­dated the Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate “al­le­ga­tions by op­po­si­tion par­ties and civil so­ci­ety stake­hold­ers that Lt Gen Kamoli’s reap­point­ment had re­sulted in di­vi­sions in the LDF and led to po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho”.

How­ever, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili has since writ­ten to SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor and South Africa’s Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, ask­ing him to amend the Com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence.

In the com­mu­niqué dated 9 July 2015, Dr Mo­sisili gives Mr Ramaphosa feed­back of gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the SADC de­ci­sion taken by its Dou­ble Troika on 3 July 2015 in Pre­to­ria, South Africa.

SADC chair­per­son and Zim­babwe Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, chair­per­son of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion and Pres­i­dent of South Africa Ja­cob Zuma, Botswana Pres­i­dent Ian Khama, Namibia’s Min­is­ter of De­fence Penda Ya Ndakolo, De­fence Ad­vi­sor at the Malawi High Com­mis­sion in South Africa Lieu­tenant Colonel Lawrence Mambo and Dr Mo­sisili at­tended the spe­cial Sum­mit held specif­i­cally to dis­cuss Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges. Mr Ramaphosa and SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax also at­tended the Sum­mit.

In his let­ter to Mr Ramaphosa, Dr Mo­sisili first ac­knowl­edges the South African’s role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing Le­sotho’s snap elec­tions on 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015. The early elec­tions were prompted by per­sis­tent squab­bles be­tween then Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and his deputy, Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, lead­ing to the col­lapse of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party gov­ern­ment.

The Demo­cratic Congress (DC) leader also wel­comes SADC’S es­tab­lish­ment of an eight­mem­ber Over­sight Com­mit­tee to act as an early warn­ing mech­a­nism in the event of in­sta­bil­ity signs in Le­sotho, as well as the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry made up of le­gal ex­perts from the re­gion.

Dr Mo­sisili, how­ever, notes in the let­ter that “both His majesty and Cab­i­net” had taken “the lib­erty to sug­gest three im­por­tant ad­di­tions” to the Com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence, which all re­late to Dr Tha­bane’s con­duct while in of­fice.

Reads the premier’s let­ter: “In the first place, it be­hoves us to con­grat­u­late you, sir, on the well-de­served ac­co­lades show­ered on you for suc­cess­fully ex­e­cut­ing your man­date as fa­cil­i­ta­tor, and for the ex­ten­sion of that man­date (by the 3 July SADC Dou­ble Troika). How­ever, I must has­ten to re­mind you, sir, that we still anx­iously await de­liv­ery of your re­port to His Majesty and Gov­ern­ment.

“Se­condly, I am di­rected to as­sure you and SADC of our sat­is­fac­tion with the two struc­tures set up by the sum­mit, viz the eight-man Early Warn­ing Com­mit­tee and Com­mis­sion of In­quiry. On the lat­ter, how­ever, both His Majesty and Cab­i­net take the lib­erty to sug­gest three im­por­tant ad­di­tions to the terms of ref­er­ence”.

Ac­cord­ing to the premier, the Com­mis­sion should also “in­ves­ti­gate the Le­sotho De­fence Force op­er­a­tion of 30 Au­gust 2014, in which Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko lost his life. Se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions of a coup at­tempt have been touted around events of that early morn­ing op­er­a­tion by the LDF and we feel that ad­van­tage should be taken of the Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate that in­ci­dent which, as you will no doubt re­call, led to Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane (as he then was) flee­ing to South Africa.”

Dr Mo­sisili also asks the Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate Dr Tha­bane’s de­ci­sion to in­crease po­lice salaries, as well as the ABC leader’s con­stant change of po­lice com­mis­sion­ers.

The premier notes in his let­ter: “Another equally im­por­tant as­pect that mer­its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we strongly urge, is the ten­u­ous re­la­tion­ship be­tween then Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane and the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) which led, in­ter alia, to the ap­point­ments (and dis­missals) of four Com­mis­sion­ers of Po­lice in the two-and-a-half years (Dr Tha­bane was in power), and to the LMPS be­ing awarded a hefty, al­beit un­bud­geted, salary in­crease by Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane with­out Cab­i­net ap­proval and to the ex­clu­sion of the other two dis­ci­plined forces (Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice and Le­sotho De­fence Force).

“By the same to­ken, Mr Fa­cil­i­ta­tor, we strongly urge that the in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion of Com­mis­sioner Napo Se­fali of the Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice (LCS) by Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane mer­its in­ves­ti­ga­tion. In the same vein, we urge that the causes of the now five­month-old go-slow strike in the LCS equally mer­its in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry.

“It is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that in all hon­esty and with­out mal­ice to any­body, these mat­ters must be in­cluded in the terms-of-ref­er­ence for the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry. Any at­tempt or ef­fort to delve deep into the causes of in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho and thus, os­ten­si­bly to find a last­ing so­lu­tion with­out in­volv­ing the LMPS and LCS, will not and can­not suc­ceed.

“In the mean­time, let me con­clude by as­sur­ing you, sir, of gov­ern­ment’s readi­ness and ea­ger­ness to fa­cil­i­tate the work of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry once it is es­tab­lished. Let me also in­di­cate that in or­der to en­joy le­gal ef­fi­cacy and stand­ing, the Com­mis­sion will have to be set up in terms of the Public In­quiries Act. Gov­ern­ment will speed­ily process its es­tab­lish­ment in terms of this law once the agreed terms of ref­er­ence and com­po­si­tion of the Com­mis­sion are availed.”

In his re­sponse, Mr Ramaphosa ac­cepts Dr Mo­sisili’s “sug­ges­tions” but adds to the man­date of the probe team by not­ing it was “nec­es­sary” for the Com­mis­sion to also look into the 27 Jan­uary 2014 si­mul­ta­ne­ous bomb­ings by un­known as­sailants of the Moshoeshoe II homes of Li­a­biloe Ramo­holi (Dr Tha­bane’s part­ner at the time), and ‘Mamoshoeshoe Mo­let­sane and the Ha Abia res­i­dence of Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana.

Mr Ramaphosa fur­ther says in his let­ter dated 12 July 2015, that it would “also be es­sen­tial” for the Com­mis­sion to look into the ap­point­ment of the Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito by Dr Tha­bane in Jan­uary this year. The le­gal­ity of Jus­tice Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment has since been chal­lenged by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and sev­eral high-pro­file lawyers.

Reads Mr Ramaphosa’s re­sponse to Dr Mo­sisili: “I thank you for the valu­able sug­ges­tions you have made fol­low­ing his Majesty’s and your Cab­i­net’s re­flec­tion with re­gard to ad­di­tional mat­ters that need to be fac­tored into the terms of ref­er­ence of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry es­tab­lished at the Heads of State Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit held in Pre­to­ria on 3 July 2015.

“In the spirit of tak­ing ad­van­tage of the Com­mis­sion, I be­lieve it is also nec­es­sary to look at al­le­ga­tions of crim­i­nal con­duct on the part of both the LDF and LMPS, and their re­spec­tive mem­bers as they af­fected se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the King­dom as a whole, in­clud­ing events of 27 Jan­uary 2014 where it is al­leged that cer­tain homes were bombed and in re­la­tion to which eight LDF mem­bers were charged with high trea­son.

“I be­lieve it is also nec­es­sary to in­ves­ti­gate the im­pact of var­i­ous changes in the top lead­er­ship of the courts, such as the ap­point­ment of a new Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal, their le­git­i­macy and abil­ity to tackle var­i­ous crim­i­nal and civil is­sues that have or will come be­fore them in re­la­tion to the is­sues be­fore the Com­mis­sion.”

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili (left) and his pre­de­ces­sor thomas tha­bane share a lighter mo­ment dur­ing the open­ing of the 9th par­lia­ment in March this year.

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