Diplo­matic gaffe in Botswana

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Ut­loang Ka­jeno

I AM sure Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili wanted the 35th South­ern Africa De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) sum­mit, held in the Botswana cap­i­tal Gaborone, to end as soon as pos­si­ble. In fact, he prob­a­bly heaved a huge sigh of re­lief as his plane left Gaborone but, sadly, this was not the end of his prob­lems. This is be­cause, even be­fore the plane touched down at Moshoeshoe I In­ter­na­tional Air­port, lo­cal media and so­cial net­works were abuzz about the pro­ceed­ings of the sum­mit.

Mind you, to make mat­ters worse for him, he was at­tend­ing the Sum­mit that among oth­ers, wel­comed him to the elite club of newly-elected Heads of Gov­ern­ment of Namibia, Zam­bia and oth­ers. The Sum­mit’s agenda also in­cluded re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion and a last­ing so­lu­tion to Le­sotho’s now-wellpub­lished in­ces­sant po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

Why Ntate Mo­sisili did not rein-in his ad­vance team of se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and warn them of the po­ten­tial diplo­matic minefield they were go­ing to walk into in Botswana still baf­fles me. Why Ntate Mo­sisili did not, on the day he was sup­posed to steal the lime­light with the other newly-elected heads of gov­ern­ment, or­der his speech­writ­ers to purge the of­fend­ing para­graphs from his speech still baf­fles me too. The least he could have done as an ac­com­plished and sea­soned politi­cian would have been to de­vi­ate from those of­fen­sive para­graphs from his speech.

At this junc­ture I wish to quote him for avoid­ance of doubt (as re­ported in Le­sotho Times, Au­gust 20 – 26 2015): “We may re­call that Le­sotho has been on the agenda of SADC for too long and for the wrong rea­sons. Our coali­tion gov­ern­ment is, there­fore, com­mit­ted to a re­form process that will af­fect var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions, and hope­fully en­sure that SADC is spared the trou­ble of dous­ing the flames in the Moun­tain King­dom.

He is fur­ther re­ported as say­ing: “The new chal­lenges we are con­fronted with all point to a re­fusal of cer­tain sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion, par­tic­u­larly mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion, to ac­cept the out­come of the Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tions.”

In my hum­ble view, these words were the prover­bial straw that broke the camel’s back. They made all those heads of gov­ern­ment snap, for lack of a bet­ter term. I will of course sub­stan­ti­ate my ar­gu­ment that they snapped at a later stage in this ar­ti­cle.

You may all re­call that on 17th March, this year, SA Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and a host of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from SADC and around the world, wit­nessed to­gether with tens of thou­sands of Ba­sotho, at the Set­soto Sta­dium, the smooth hand­ing-over of power by for­mer premier Thomas Tha­bane to Ntate Mo­sisili. This was a re­sult a snap gen­eral elec­tion that was held on 28 Fe­bru­ary, ob­served by crit­i­cally a SADC ob­server team and other in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal teams. Their unan­i­mous as­sess­ment of the whole elec­toral process was that it was cred­i­ble, free and fair and this was re­ported to the world. In fact it was Ntate Mo­sisili who, for no ap­par­ent rea­son, de­layed to ap­point his cab­i­net, open Par­lia­ment and pass the na­tional bud­get. In fact, he even opted to in­voke the Con­sti­tu­tion and rarelyused piece of leg­is­la­tion so that he could meet the statu­tory guid­ance to meet all the above time­frames. Why the in­or­di­nate de­lay, only he knows.

For the prime min­is­ter to in­sin­u­ate at such a high pro­file fo­rum, as the SADC Sum­mit, that the in­ter­ven­tion of the re­gional body was un­jus­ti­fied and that the op­po­si­tion was dis­put­ing the re­sult of the elec­tion, when all pro- cesses prior to, dur­ing and af­ter the elec­tion, were re­ported by the same SADC, was tak­ing the Sum­mit for a ride.

Put sim­ply, the premier sought to down­play the im­por­tance of the re­gional bloc in re­solv­ing Le­sotho’s chal­lenges in a very cava­lier fash­ion.

Af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao and the flight of the lead­ers of the three ma­jor op­po­si­tion par­ties from Le­sotho, the SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in Pre­to­ria, South Africa, on 3 July, 2015, es­tab­lished a Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion of En­quiry to: (i)en­quire into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of Gen. Ma­hao. (ii)the le­gal­ity of the re­moval, ap­point­ment and re-in­state­ment of re­cent Com­man­ders of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) (iii)the ex­is­tence of the al­leged mutiny against the LDF com­mand among oth­ers.

Ntate Mo­sisili left the Pre­to­ria sum­mit hav­ing un­der­taken to ini­ti­ate the do­mes­ti­ca­tion of the Terms of Ref­er­ence of the Com­mis­sion and fa­cil­i­tate the modal­i­ties for the Com­mis­sion to im­ple­ment its man­date. How­ever, upon his ar­rival in Le­sotho, Ntate Mo­sisili wrote to the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor, Mr Rama- phosa, ask­ing him to in­cor­po­rate ad­di­tional TOR’S for the Com­mis­sion and promptly gazette these into law. Mr Ramaphosa was there­after sent to Le­sotho to check on the progress and to his ut­ter sur­prise, he found that in his opin­ion and that of Judge Phumaphi, the Com­mis­sion Chair, that the ad­di­tional TOR’S were di­lut­ing, were bur­den­some and con­fus­ing the Com­mis­sion as re­flected in the gazette. They both de­clined to in­cor­po­rate the ad­di­tional TOR’S. How­ever, they un­der­took to bring this to the at­ten­tion of the full SADC Sum­mit in Botswana. The TOR’S now also in­cluded those from the op­po­si­tion par­ties and civil so­ci­ety.

How­ever, in fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of the SADC of­fi­cial com­mu­nique of Pre­to­ria, pro­hibit­ing the hold­ing of the Court Mar­shall on the 13 Au­gust 2015, the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment pub­lished a “con­ven­ing or­der” of the Court Mar­shall. This is in full knowl­edge that the ad­di­tional TOR’S were to be tabled for de­lib­er­a­tion at the Sum­mit of 17-18 Au­gust, 2015. In fact, the Court Mar­shall is vi­o­lat­ing the SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit res­o­lu­tions.

Ntate Mo­sisili there­fore went to Botswana well know­ing the sen­ti­ments of both the chair of the Com­mis­sion and the Fa­cil­i­ta­tor that the ad­di­tional TOR’S would, in all like­li­hood, not be in­cor­po­rated at the Botswana Sum­mit. The gov­ern­ment team ought to have seen the omi­nous signs from these two piv­otal play­ers be­fore they tabled their ad­di­tional TOR’S in Botswana to avoid the huge diplo­matic em­bar­rass­ment.

His spin doc­tors got it com­pletely wrong if they thought they were go­ing to hood­wink and bull­doze SADC into ad­mit­ting the ad­di­tional TOR’S.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.