Where is sadc over­sight com­mit­tee?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea Shale

Though Le­sotho is one of the ho­moge­nous so­ci­eties known in the world, it is also one of the highly di­vided po­lit­i­cal so­ci­eties. The con­tentions are high on the ques­tion whether the congress-na­tional di­vide is real or ar­ti­fi­cial but the re­al­ity is that for con­ve­nience politi­cians use it to achieve their goals iron­i­cal to the gen­uine needs of the peo­ple they claim to be ser­vants of.

At this time it may ap­pear that Le­sotho is at the cross-roads and Ba­sotho may have to se­ri­ously en­gage on the ques­tion on how to get their coun­try back. SADC had ear­lier found a need to watch Le­sotho sit­u­a­tion for early re­sponse but the ques­tion is where SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee is?

The SADC dou­ble Troika de­cided on the 3rd July 2015 that it will have a team of pathol­o­gists to Le­sotho and the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry to the in­ves­ti­gate on the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of the former Com­man­der of Le­sotho Defence Force. This be­came so be­cause the gov­ern­ment of the king­dom of Le­sotho was put un­der pres­sure to either own up or con­demn the LDF op­er­a­tion that re­sulted with the death of Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

The Prime Min­is­ter told the na­tion that his ad­min­is­tra­tion found it wor­thy to re­quest SADC to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter ob­jec­tively so that the gov­ern­ment it­self can know the truth. Though some peo­ple did not see value in call­ing the com­mis­sion be­cause the op­er­a­tion was the LDF en­counter which was also said to have been le­gal and dully au­tho­rised and noth­ing could be le­git­i­mately hid­den, oth­ers felt that there is no of­fence if gov­ern­ment takes time to be “cork-sure”.

In what the na­tion has been told by the gov­ern­ment, the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion, is a SADC re­sponse to the re­quest of the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment. The le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion there­fore is that the Gov­ern­ment would jeal­ously guard at the Com­mis­sion to find the truth both in process and con­tent.

This task the gov­ern­ment could ap­proach in two seem­ingly dif­fer­ent yet sim­i­lar ways. The first would be to en­sure that those who give tes­ti­mony from Le­sotho Defence Force are given ad­e­quate sup­port so that they are not tech­ni­cally or oth­er­wise co­erced through le­gal pro­ce­dures and other tech­ni­cal­i­ties.

This is im­por­tant be­cause it is be­lieved to be a fair process if peo­ple who go through a le­gal process are suf­fi­ciently pro­tected hence those who may not af­ford le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in some cases are af­forded state le­gal aid. The sec­ond way would be for gov­ern­ment to en­sure that mem­bers of Le­sotho Defence Force who ap­pear be­fore the Com­mis­sion fully co­op­er­ate and dis­close in­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary to help Com­mis­sion es­tab­lish truth.

Elab­o­rat­ing on the sec­ond way, it would be ex­pec­ta­tion that the Gov­ern­ment which seeks so much to know the truth would feel equally be­trayed when Phumaphi is de­lib­er­ately de­nied in­for­ma­tion that can help him re­veal the truth to SADC.

The two ways would cer­tainly en­sure that no one is co­erced and also that no tac­tics to hide truth are en­ter­tained. This would be a po­si­tion of a con­cerned gov­ern­ment which seeks truth. Con­cen­trat­ing gov­ern­ment sup­port on any of the two to the detri­ment of the other, would com­pro­mise gov­ern­ment at least in the eyes of those who took it se­ri­ously when it said that it wanted a thor­ough process to re­veal the truth.

It would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive for gov­ern­ment to con­cen­trate on one, in fact seek­ing to im­pose the sit­u­a­tion on the sol­diers in the oth­er­wise fair in­ves­tiga­tive process would be ma­li­cious and un­ex­pected of the gov­ern­ment which pro­nounced it­self as seek­ing to know. It would equally be un­fair for gov­ern­ment to pro­vide sol­diers with le­gal ser­vices that en­able them to de­feat the pur­pose of the Com­mis­sion.

The le­gal ser­vices af­forded should also en­sure that sol­diers do not ap­ply their se­crecy ori­en­ta­tion to up­set the na­tional and re­gional ex­pec­ta­tion. Do­ing that would not only be be­trayal of the re­gional body by the King­dom but an un­wise use of state resources.

The main chal­lenge in the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of the Com­mis­sion would be for par­ties and in­di­vid­u­als who would like to be bi­ased and im­press the Com­mis­sion to see their view points as real as op­posed to the other side more so on those who sub­scribe to dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal di­vide con­se­quen­tially in­form­ing their def­i­ni­tion of the po­lit­i­cal-mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho. The de­clared in­ten­tions of the gov­ern­ment would be bet­ter served by the gov­ern­ment le­gal coun­sel en­sur­ing that no one is co­erced while at the same time no one is en­abled to hide truth to SADC and con­se­quen­tially to the gov­ern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho and by im­pli­ca­tion the Ba­sotho Na­tion.

Whether the gov­ern­ment has taken one side at the ex­pense of an­other or is on track and main­tain­ing its ob­jec­tiv­ity of know­ing the truth but with­out an in­jury to any­one in the process is a mat­ter for Ba­sotho to de­ter­mine and per­haps not the is­sue of dis­cus­sion for this ar­ti­cle.

What can be said at this stage is that the team of pathol­o­gists and the SADC in­quiry did not or are not tak­ing place on a clean slate but within a par­tic­u­lar iden­ti­fi­able po­lit­i­cal-mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho whose def­i­ni­tion is not im­mune from the way dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal group­ings de­fine the demise and rise of the Let­sema and Khokanyan’a Phiri Coali­tion gov­ern­ments re­spec­tively. This means that they both have im­pe­tus to the fu­ture po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the King­dom either for bet­ter or worse.

When sit­ting in Tšoane, the SADC Trou­ble Troika did not only de­cide on pathol­o­gists and In­quiry but also that Deputy Pres­i­dent of South Africa re­mains SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor and that an Over­sight Com­mit­tee will be set-up to watch po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity in the King­dom and in­form the sub-re­gional body through Early Warn­ing sys­tems and in­fra­struc­tures of any signs and in­di­ca­tors nec­es­sary to ad­dress.

While the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion is still in progress, it surely af­fects just like it is af­fected by, the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try whether for bet­ter or worse. In that way it al­ready shapes just like it is be­ing shaped by the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the King­dom.

What­ever Phumaphi brings to Le­sotho is al­ready in the mak­ing and for those who are tasked to read the signs of times and fore­cast with the in­ten­tion of en­abling SADC to man­age po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho should be here as early as yes­ter­day.

The ques­tion which was ear­lier asked in this and the sis­ter col­umn in the sis­ter news­pa­per which is now re­peated is when is the SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee to be es­tab­lished?

Is the Over­sight Com­mit­tee go­ing to be set when the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion would have al­ready ma­tured into a com­plete com­plex and then an­other in­quiry would be needed to ask per­pe­tra­tors what have hap­pened and for them to take their time, skill and art to hide truth? Where is SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee?

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