Stay the course on SADC inquiry
IN this edition, we report that the SADC Organ Troika Summit held in Sandton, Johannesburg on Saturday “noted with great concern” lieutenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi’s court bid to render the regional bloc’s inquiry into the death of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao illegal. This is because the High Court challenge has now held back the release of the much-awaited report which was on Saturday submitted to 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 Facilitator to lesotho Cyril ramaphosa and SADC executive Secretary Dr Stergomena lawrence Tax.
according to Foreign affairs Minister, Tlohang Sekhamane, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili declined an invitation to attend the summit after citing the challenge which is before the courts. While government officials have strenuously disassociated themselves from the court challenge, it is very hard to believe they are not complicit in its filing given their very public fall out with Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi over his decision to interview opposition leaders in Sa.
It is ironic, if not astonishing, that Dr Mosisili himself made the request for the establishment of an inquiry at a SADC summit following the slaying of lt-gen Mahao. His silence in the face of manoeuvres to stall its release or even nullify its findings speaks volumes. Commissions of inquiry are, by their very nature, meant to establish the facts of a particular dispute and to submit a report stating the evidence as well as proposing terms for the resolution of the differences.
It is, thus, inconceivable that the report could have been completed without hearing the side of the opposition leaders and the soldiers accused of mutiny. In this case, the ends truly justified the means. Otherwise, it would have been a mere rubber stamp on the government’s position without getting to the root causes for lesotho’s perennial instability. Ultimately, the belligerent tone set by government officials towards SADC will do them little good because they are inadvertently casting themselves as villains. They requested for the commission, and now they are throwing spanners in its works because it purportedly does not portray them in the light they expected. SADC members are unlikely to be impressed by the government’s posture considering the productive hours leaders spent deliberating over the lesotho crisis and the more than M5 million the region contributed towards the operations of the commission.
Dr Mosisili’s Political advisor, Fako likoti, has said elsewhere in this edition that they would consider taking Zimbabwean President robert Mugabe’s approach of “putting SADC in its place”. While it may seem expedient for lesotho to thump her nose at SADC, such a move would have deleterious consequences for the coalition government, not least the economy.
admittedly, Mr Mugabe has remained in power, but has done so at a very great cost to the country’s economy and standing among the community of nations. Once regarded as africa’s bread basket Zimbabwe is now a pale shadow of its former self and regarded as a basket case because of Mr Mugabe’s scorched earth policies.
If lesotho chooses to go her own way, the Mountain Kingdom would attach to itself the ignoble tag of pariah state, with the rest of the continent and the world also taking a similarly dim view of us. The little foreign direct investment and humanitarian aid that was flowing to this nation would be abruptly cut with the consequences too ghastly to even contemplate. This is not to say lesotho should surrender her sovereignty to SADC or development partners. Government should follow through with the commission of inquiry to the bitter end and not vacillate because the outcomes could be potentially negative. Ultimately, the sevenparty coalition needs to operate with a legacy mindset that entrenches good governance and builds strong institutions for posterity. It certainly doesn’t come easy.