Why Ramaphosa changed tune

Lesotho Times - - News - Bongiwe Zih­langu

Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi, chair­per­son of a re­gional com­mis­sion of in­quiry into Le­sotho’s cur­rent se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges, was the rea­son why south African deputy pres­i­dent cyril Ramaphosa was singing a dif­fer­ent tune at the end of his two-day visit to Maseru last week.

the south­ern African De­vel­op­ment com­mu­nity (sadc) Fa­cil­i­ta­tor was in the coun­try to ex­plain the com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence and sub­mit to King Letsie iii and gov­ern­ment, a re­port of con­sti­tu­tional and se­cu­rity re­forms the re­gional bloc is sug­gest­ing for the trou­bled King­dom.

How­ever, in­stead of tabling the com­mis­sion’s terms con­tained in a gov­ern­ment gazette dated 28 July 2015 which he had en­dorsed, Mr Ramaphosa said the 13-mem­ber probe team would only fo­cus on the sadc rec­om­men­da­tions and leave out those added by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s seven-party ad­min­is­tra­tion as well as his own.

the sadc spe­cial sum­mit held in south Africa last month agreed the com­mis­sion of for­eign le­gal and se­cu­rity ex­perts would fo­cus on the killing of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao two months ago, the re­moval and re­in­state­ment of Lieu­tenant Gen­eral tlali Kamoli as LDF com­man­der, and claims by the LDF that Bri­gadier Ma­hao was the ring­leader of a group of sol­diers plan­ning to top­ple the army com­mand and had been re­sist­ing ar­rest when he was gunned down by the mil­i­tary on 25 June. the com­mis­sion was also asked to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions by op­po­si­tion par­ties and civil so­ci­ety that Lt Gen Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment in May this year fol­low­ing his dis­missal last Au­gust for al­leged dis­obe­di­ence, was cre­at­ing ten­sion in the LDF and in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho.

How­ever, Dr Mo­sisili had since com­mu­ni­cated with Mr Ramaphosa and sug­gested ad­di­tions to the com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence, which largely fo­cused on his pre­de­ces­sor thomas tha­bane’s al­leged mis­con­duct while in of­fice. In ad­di­tion to the premier’s sug­ges­tions, Mr Ramaphosa had also added his own ob­ser­va­tions, leav­ing the com­mis­sion with an ex­panded man­date, which was duly pub­lished in the gov­ern­ment gazette on tues­day last week.

But in a twist to the probe which is yet to be­gin, Mr Ramaphosa told re­porters as he left Le­sotho last Fri­day that the com­mis­sion would only fo­cus on the orig­i­nal sadc man­date, point­ing out only the re­gional bloc’s lead­er­ship could change its terms of ref­er­ence. Mr Ramaphosa did not say why the com­mis­sion was now dis­re­gard­ing al­most three-quar­ters of the gazetted terms, but the Le­sotho times has since learnt his climb­down was due to Jus­tice Phumaphi’s re­fusal to take or­ders from any­body else but the sadc lead­er­ship.

Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Khotso Let­satsi yesterday con­firmed the Botswana judge in­di­cated he had a prob­lem with the ad­di­tional terms in the gov­ern­ment gazette.

“it is true that Jus­tice Phumaphi does not agree with the ad­di­tional terms of ref­er­ence con­tained in the gov­ern­ment gazette,” the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, science and tech­nol­ogy min­is­ter said yesterday.

“He only wants to use the terms of ref­er­ence he brought with him to Le­sotho.”

How­ever, Mr Let­satsi was quick to add de­spite his reser­va­tions, Jus­tice Phumaphi and his team would have to “com­pro­mise” and start work us­ing the terms in the gazette.

“the com­mis­sion has to func­tion within the con­fines of the laws of Le­sotho so for the time be­ing, Jus­tice Phumaphi will have to use the terms of ref­er­ence con­tained in the gov­ern­ment gazette.

“We are go­ing for a sadc sum­mit on 16 Au­gust where a de­ci­sion on the way for­ward would be made re­gard­ing the com­mis­sion’s ad­di­tional terms of ref­er­ence.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Let­satsi, the gov­ern­ment would co­op­er­ate fully with the com­mis­sion.

“i must say as the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho, we are con­sid­er­ate of his con­cerns and will­ing to co­op­er­ate. in the mean­time, he will pick from the gazette those terms of ref­er­ence sim­i­lar to what he had and work ac­cord­ing to their guide­lines,” the min­is­ter added.

Mean­while, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) spokesper­son, Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe, said Mr Ramaphosa told a meet­ing at­tended by op­po­si­tion party rep­re­sen­ta­tives last Fri­day that Jus­tice Phumaphi had made it clear he would only use sadc-en­dorsed guide­lines in his probe.

“cyril Ramaphosa said Jus­tice Phumaphi had told him that he did not want to use the ad­di­tional terms of ref­er­ence in the gov­ern­ment gazette be­cause they were not from sadc,” Mr Mo­fo­mobe said.

“Ac­cord­ing to Ramaphosa, Jus­tice Phumaphi was firm that he would only work guided by the sadc terms and that any ad­di­tions should be from sadc.

“Ramaphosa said Phumaphi told him that the com­mis­sion of in­quiry was es­tab­lished by sadc and not the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho, and would there­fore, only fol­low sadc in­struc­tions,” Mr Mo­fo­mobe said.

Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi

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