‘Hashatsi chal­lenge a de­lay­ing tac­tic’

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

SADC’S de­ci­sion to dis­patch its fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho, Cyril Ramaphosa, shows the re­gional bloc has seen through govern­ment’s at­tempts to de­lay the re­lease of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s re­port, an­a­lysts have said.

Ac­cord­ing to the an­a­lysts, Lieu­tenan­tColonel Tefo Hashatsi’s court chal­lenge, to de­clare the SADC in­quiry into the death of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao il­le­gal, was a de­lay­ing tac­tic govern­ment was us­ing which could back­fire.

Mr Ramaphosa, who is also South Africa’s vice-pres­i­dent, was on Satur­day del­e­gated to “ex­pe­di­tiously com­mu­ni­cate the con­cerns of SADC to the King­dom of Le­sotho” over the court chal­lenge dur­ing a SADC Or­gan Troika Sum­mit held in Sand­ton, Jo­han­nes­burg.

The sum­mit was at­tended by Mozam­bique Pres­i­dent Filipe Nyusi, in his ca­pac­ity as chair­per­son of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion, South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Dr Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax and Mr Ramaphosa. Ac­cord­ing to the troika’s com­mu­niqué, the sum­mit re­ceived the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s re­port, but noted with con­cern the court ap­pli­ca­tion block the pro­ceed­ings of the com­mis­sion.

“Sum­mit noted with great con­cern that the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry has been taken to court, and man­dated the Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to ex­pe­di­tiously com­mu­ni­cate the con­cerns of SADC to the King­dom of Le­sotho,” the troika’s terse state­ment read.

Chaired by Botswana judge, Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi, the com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished to in­ves­ti­gate the as­sas­si­na­tion of for­mer Lt-gen Ma­hao by his col­leagues on 25 June this year. Govern­ment has said the for­mer army com­man­der was re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny when he was gunned down out­side his Mokema farm. How­ever, Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fam­ily dis­putes this claim.

The com­mis­sion was sup­posed to hold its hear­ings un­til 10 Novem­ber 2015, but wrapped up its op­er­a­tions ahead of sched­ule on 21 Oc­to­ber, af­ter the army re­fused to re- lease 22 de­tained sol­diers who were sup­posed to tes­tify. The in­quiry also fell foul of the govern­ment af­ter mov­ing the hear­ings to Thaba ‘Nchu to in­ter­view ex­iled lead­ers, their sup­port­ers and sol­diers liv­ing in ex­ile in South Africa.

This prompted Lt-col Hashatsi to file an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion on 16 Oc­to­ber 2015 seek­ing to block the pro­ceed­ings of the in­quiry ac­cus­ing Jus­tice Phumaphi of bias against him among other is­sues. The case has since been post­poned to 18-19 Jan­uary 2016 due to the un­avail­abil­ity of a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing one of the re­spon­dents.

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Mafa Se­jana­mane of the Depart­ment of Political and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Stud­ies at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL), the govern­ment has not been sin­cere in its ef­forts to end the political im­passe in Le­sotho.

“The govern­ment has spent a lot of time play­ing games with­out ad­dress­ing the se­ri­ous is­sues that are af­fect­ing this coun­try,” he says.

“Our govern­ment has failed to be ac­count­able fol­low­ing the death of Lt-gen Ma­hao. This is the sit­u­a­tion which led to the for­ma­tion of the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry.”

Prof Se­jana­mane says it is the duty of ev­ery govern­ment to pro­tect its cit­i­zens and pros­e­cute per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lence.

“How­ever, in the case of Lt-gen Ma­hao, the govern­ment did not even at­tempt to ar­rest his killers,” he says.

“Our govern­ment has some­thing to hide. That is the only con­clu­sion one can draw from their con­duct. Dur­ing the com­mis­sion’s hear­ings, they re­fused to re­veal the peo­ple who killed Lt-gen Ma­hao. Even though the Prime Min­is­ter (Pakalitha Mo­sisili) co­op­er­ated with the com­mis­sion more than the other govern­ment of­fi­cials, he also re­fused to say the names.

“As an ob­server, it is clear to me that since the re­port has been tabled be­fore SADC, our govern­ment is play­ing all man­ner of tricks to avoid be­ing ac­count­able. The govern­ment con­tin­ues to refuse to co­op­er­ate with SADC on this mat­ter. In my opin­ion, Mr Ramaphosa’s mis­sion to Le­sotho is to read the riot act. He will tell govern­ment of the con­se­quences of their re­fusal to com­ply.”

Prof Se­jana­mane also sur­mises that Lt-col Hashatsi’s court chal­lenge is “a trick” by the govern­ment to de­lay and dis­credit the re­port.

He says: “It is a gi­gan­tic plot to ob­struct jus­tice. The fact that Hashatsi uses the same lawyers who rep­re­sented the govern­ment be­fore the com­mis­sion high­lights that this is part of a broader plot by govern­ment.”

Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­ter (TRC) Di­rec­tor, Tšoeu Pet­lane, echoes the same sen­ti­ments, say­ing the re­gional bloc was de­ter­mined to end Le­sotho’s political im­passe.

“Dis­patch­ing Ramaphosa is a com­mend­able move by SADC to try and find a political so­lu­tion to the im­passe. The govern­ment avoids dis­cussing is­sues con­cern­ing the re­port by cit­ing Hashatsi’s case and the prin­ci­ple of sub ju­dice,” he said.

“SADC, on the other hand, uses its pro­to­cols to ex­ert its in­flu­ence over mem­ber coun­tries. They are likely to ar­gue that the com­mis­sion is not un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of Le­sotho courts. The Hashatsi case was sup­posed to be ur­gent. But, all of sud­den it seems to be no longer ur­gent. Oth­er­wise it would not have been post­poned to Jan­uary next year. The govern­ment shot it­self in the foot again on the Hashatsi is­sue; they cite the case as the rea­son they can­not dis­cuss the re­port, yet they weaken their case by fail­ing to show the sig­nif­i­cance of that case and its ur­gency.

“The Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney-gen­eral (Tšokolo Makhethe) are re­spon­dents in the mat­ter, but I un­der­stand they have not filed their re­sponses con­cern­ing the mat­ter. You just have to ask your­self why the govern­ment has not filed their re­sponse to this case.”

Pro­fes­sor Mafa se­jana­mane.

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