EX­ILEDEX LEAD­ERS WEL­COMEWE SADCSA STANCE

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

Ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers have wel­comed SADC’S de­ci­sion to take govern­ment to task over its fail­ure to en­sure there is no lit­i­ga­tion against the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion.

The re­gional bloc on Satur­day ex­pressed con­cern over a law­suit pend­ing be­fore the High Court in which Spe­cial Forces Com­man­der lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi is chal­leng­ing the Com­mis­sion’s le­git­i­macy.

SADC es­tab­lished the Com­mis­sion in July this year to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of for­mer le­sotho de­fence Force (ldf) com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao was shot dead on 25 June this year just out­side Maseru by ldf mem­bers who had come to ar­rest him for al­legedly be­ing the rin­gleader of a group of sol­diers plot­ting to oust the army com­mand.

The killing sparked out­rage both in le­sotho and in­ter­na­tion­ally, prompts Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili to seek help from the South­ern African de­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) in es­tab­lish­ing what led to the killing. SADC re­sponded by dis­patch­ing Botswana judge, Jus­tice Mphaphi Phumaphi, and a nine-mem­ber team of re­gional le­gal and se­cu­rity ex­perts to Maseru to probe the in­ci­dent.

The in­quiry was sup­posed to take place be­tween 31 Au­gust and 9 Novem­ber but ended pre­ma­turely on 23 Oc­to­ber af­ter the ldf re­fused to al­low the com­mis­sion to in­ter­view 23 sol­diers who were in Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison and be­ing tried in a Court Mar­tial for the al­leged mutiny.

Five of the sol­diers have since been re­leased and placed un­der open ar­rest, while the mutiny trial was post­poned last week to 1 Fe­bru­ary 2016.

How­ever, SADC is not happy that lieu­tenant-colonel Hashatsi — one of the many peo­ple in­ter­viewed by the com­mis­sion—has chal­lenged the le­gal­ity of the probe in the High Court. The law­suit has since stopped the re­lease of Jus­tice Phumaphi’s re­port to the pub­lic, leav­ing stake­hold­ers frus­trated.

An ex­tra­or­di­nary Sum­mit of Heads of State and Govern­ment of the SADC Or­gan Troika held in Sand­ton, South Africa, on Satur­day re­solved to send South Africa’s deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to le­sotho to en­gage govern­ment over the court case .

SADC last year ap­pointed Mr Ramaphosa to fa­cil­i­tate an end to le­sotho’s political and se­cu­rity crises, lead­ing to snap elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary this year.

The Le­sotho Times has been re­li­ably in­formed that in ad­di­tion to dis­cussing lt-col Hashatsi’s lit­i­ga­tion, Mr Ramaphosa would in­form govern­ment that Jus­tice Phumaphi is set to re­turn and in­ter­view the mutiny sus­pects as it was one of his com­mis­sion’s man­dates. The 5 de­cem­ber meet­ing was at­tended by Mozam­bique Pres­i­dent and SADC Or­gan chair­per­son Filipe Jac­into Nyusi, SA Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and Tan­za­nia Am­bas­sador lib­er­ata Mu­la­mula. Also in at­ten­dance were Mr Ramaphosa and SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Ster­gom­ena lawrence Tax.

Sources privy to the meet­ing told the Le­sotho Times that Mr Ramaphosa would be ar­riv­ing in Maseru next week on his lat­est mis­sion to seek an end to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity and political crises.

Com­ment­ing on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments, All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader and for­mer prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, Re­formed Congress of le­sotho (RCL) leader, Keketso Ran­tšo and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader, Th­e­sele ‘ Maserib­ane, told the Le­sotho Times this week that SADC’S de­ci­sion was an in­dict­ment on the govern­ment.

The Le­sotho Times has been re­li­ably in­formed that Jus­tice Phumaphi told the SADC Troika that de­spite seek­ing to in­ter­view the de­tained sol­diers, the re­quest was de­nied by the ldf au­thor­i­ties hence his re­port was miss­ing this vi­tal in­put.

Speak­ing to the Le­sotho Times from South Africa where she has been liv­ing since flee­ing the coun­try in May this year af­ter al­leg­ing some ldf mem­bers were out to kill her, Ms Ran­tšo said: “Ntate Mo­sisili has been brag­ging to the na­tion that his govern­ment ini­ti­ated SADC’S in­ter­ven­tion into the cri­sis sim­ply be­cause he did not want to ad­mit that the op­po­si­tion’s ad­vo­cacy had been heard in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“SADC in­ter­vened in le­sotho be­cause of us, the op­po­si­tion. We are the ones who have been telling SADC that there is no peace and sta­bil­ity in our coun­try.

“To my sur­prise, the same per­son con­tra­dicted him­self and proudly frus­trated the com­mis­sion by deny­ing it ac­cess to the mutiny sus­pects and al­lowed the army and govern­ment of­fi­cials not to co­op­er­ate in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by re­fus­ing to an­swer cru­cial ques­tions.

“My view is that Ntate Mo­sisili is lead­ing govern­ment out­side the con­fines of the law. He al­lowed the army to dis­re­spect and hu­mil­i­ate the com­mis­sion even though the ldf ad­mit­ted to the mur­der. One can con­clude that Ntate Mo­sisili is just a statue be­hind this mil­i­tary state be­ing led by the ldf,” Ms Ran­tšo said.

Asked what she thought of Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion which led to le­sotho’s early elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary this year, and the end of dr Tha­bane’s ten­ure as premier midterm, Ms Ran­tšo said the South African deputy pres­i­dent had failed dis­mally.

“i still main­tain that Mr Ramaphosa has failed to re­solve le­sotho’s se­cu­rity prob­lems. He was a fail­ure from the day he fa­cil­i­tated the sign­ing of the Maseru Se­cu­rity Ac­cord be­tween Ntate Ma­hao, Kamoli (ldf com­man­der) and for­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana in Oc­to­ber last year.

“The sign­ing of that agree­ment now shows that Ntate Ramaphosa was bi­ased and that’s why he made the three men sign that agree­ment which took them out of the coun­try.

“The re­turn of Jus­tice Phumaphi to le­sotho clearly shows that Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion has been a disas­ter. i was per­son­ally dis­ap­pointed when op­po­si­tion party deputy lead­ers (Tlali Khasu of the ABC, BNP’S Joang Mo­lapo and Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko of the RCL) met with Mr Ramaphosa af­ter the mur­der of lt-gen Ma­hao.

“Mr Ramaphosa hyp­o­crit­i­cally told the deputy lead­ers that he was very dis­ap­pointed by govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­in­state lt-gen Kamoli as ldf com­man­der in May this year fol­low­ing his dis­missal in Au­gust 2014 by then prime min­is­ter Ntate Tha­bane.”

Ms Ran­tšo urged SADC to ap­point “a neu­tral per­son” to me­di­ate in the le­sotho cri­sis “be­cause Mr Ramaphosa has clearly shown that his in­ter­est is else­where and not bring­ing back peace and sta­bil­ity to le­sotho.

“i urge SADC to bring a per­son who doesn’t have busi­ness in­ter­ests in le­sotho. Mr Ramaphosa has been busy look­ing for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in our coun­try and not seek­ing to ad­dress is­sues SADC as­signed him to help re­solve.

“As the fa­cil­i­ta­tor, he was very silent when the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion was be­ing frus­trated by govern­ment, which shows he was sup­port­ing what was hap­pen­ing,” Ms Ran­tšo said.

On his part, Chief ‘Maserib­ane said he had con­fi­dence in Jus­tice Phumaphi and that the Botswana judge would pro­duce a re­port re­flec­tive of what is ex­actly hap­pen­ing in Le­sotho.

“Jus­tice Phumaphi is an honourable and gen­uine man who knows his stuff. i am con­fi­dent that he will com­pile his re­port with­out any favouritism. His re­turn to le­sotho to tackle the mutiny term of ref­er­ence he could not ad­dress the last time he was in le­sotho will def­i­nitely de­ter­mine if there was ever a mutiny plot,” said Chief ‘ Maserib­ane, also from ex­ile in South Africa where he has been liv­ing since he fled Le­sotho in May for fear of the mil­i­tary.

dr Tha­bane also said Jus­tice Phumaphi’s re­turn should be sup­ported by ev­ery stake­holder, in­clud­ing govern­ment.

“Jus­tice Phumaphi is a true pro­fes­sional; he is very eth­i­cal and did not show any favouritism when he was con­duct­ing his in­ves­ti­ga­tion. That is why I am con­fi­dent that his find­ings will de­liver Le­sotho from its political and se­cu­rity prob­lems.

“i have al­ways said this and i will re­peat it again. Af­ter the re­lease of Phumaphi’s re­port, peace and sta­bil­ity will def­i­nitely re­turn to le­sotho and all the ex­iles will go back to their re­spec­tive homes in le­sotho,” said dr Tha­bane from South Africa where he also fled to in May this year, fear­ing the ldf.

Asked about Mr Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion, dr Tha­bane said: “i don’t want to get into Ramaphosa’s fa­cil­i­ta­tion at the mo­ment now that i am stay­ing in his coun­try. What­ever i say might risk my stay here.”

RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo (left) and BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane.

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