Stay the course on SADC in­quiry

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

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.

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