Probe team must not underestimate challenge
SADC has ended what was increasingly becoming yet another source of bitterness among an already polarised nation by confirming the Commission of inquiry would stick to its original mandate.
it is common cause that the probe team was only established because of the fatal shooting of former lesotho Defence Force commander Maaparankoe Mahao two months ago.
it goes without saying establishing why the army killed one of its own would provide answers to the Commission’s other terms of reference regarding the country’s instability.
That government and SADC Facilitator to lesotho Cyril Ramaphosa, and indeed the opposition, wanted to make additions to the commissioners’ mandate was unfortunate and suggested lack of respect for what the regional bloc was hoping to achieve through this probe.
Not only was an expanded mandate going to unnecessarily prolong and confuse the probe, it was also certainly set to create further problems as any of the aggrieved parties could have come up with more demands because of the precedent that was going to be set had this week’s SADC summit allowed itself to be bullied into accepting the additional terms.
Already the Commission is way behind schedule hence the Mahao family’s anger that this could be yet another futile regional initiative in lesotho.
Again, one would have thought the probe team would by now, have engaged the Mahao family to reassure them that something was being done to get to the bottom of what really happened on the afternoon of 25 June 2015 when their son met his untimely death.
it is true the Commission would want to work without undue influence from any quarter but to completely ignore this anguished family, as one of the members says elsewhere in this issue, is but a terrible start for this 13-member panel.
hopefully, the Commission’s announcement that the probe is now underway would provide Basotho with the reassurance that their lives count for something no-matter the aggressor.
After standing his ground regarding the additions to the Commission’s terms of reference and being vindicated for it by the regional bloc this week, the leader of the probe team, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana, has shown he is not one to be easily intimidated.
This is a good sign from the leader of a mission whose outcome is surely going to be met with mixed feelings by different stakeholders.
A timid approach would surely be viewed as a weakness by certain elements of society who would most likely be encouraged by this flaw to interfere with the Commission’s proceedings.
Already there are concerns that those with important information that could help the commissioners might decide not to come forward for fear of a backlash when the SADC team has packed its bags and left lesotho.
These are some of the issues this Commission should be tackling and clearly explaining to the people as the witnesses would still be living in this country after the probe is complete.
however, as things stand, the Commission has not provided this assurance, leaving potential witnesses wondering whether coming forward with the muchneeded input would be worth the risk.
That is why the Commission should be clear on how it is going to conduct this investigation because it doesn’t appear to have done its homework before embarking on this mission.
holding the hearings in public is a good idea as far as transparency is concerned but then, the issue of retribution could then limit the effectiveness of the investigation. holding the probe in camera could also open the Commission to attack for the same reason of transparency.
The commissioners might be happy to announce that the probe has begun, but without properly engaging the public regarding their safety after testifying in this investigation, this exercise might prove more difficult than originally envisaged.