Govt stance on SADC ill-ad­vised

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

WE have said it be­fore. We will re­peat it again. This coun­try badly needs some form of truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process if it is to move ahead. The trau­matic events of our re­cent times have split the coun­try right through the middle. There is no one dom­i­nant political force which can claim an ex­clu­sive right to form a govern­ment. This fact is clearly ex­em­pli­fied in the re­sults of the Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions. We are now a deeply di­vided na­tion. The more we stay deeply di­vided, the more we are likely to sink into a political and eco­nomic morass. We need to find each other as Ba­sotho and do what is good for our coun­try.

There is no avoid­ing that the killing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao and the fear and dis­trust it ig­nited has left deep wounds to fes­ter in the hearts of many cit­i­zens. This is­sue is cen­tral to the loathing and an­i­mos­ity we now har­bour against each other as Ba­sotho de­pend­ing on which camp one be­longs to. This is­sue will not sim­ply dis­ap­pear or be wished away. This ex­plains why the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC), a re­gional body that has in­ter­vened more in Le­sotho to solve in­ter­nal crises than in any other coun­try, saw it fit to set up an in­ter­na­tional probe to go to the bot­tom of this and other an­cil­lary mat­ters. From where we sit, there could not have been any bet­ter op­tion to put us to­wards a path of truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion than SADC’S Mphaphi Phumaphi com­mis­sion into the death of Lt-gen Ma­hao.

Which is why we de­scribed this com­mis­sion as our very own Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion (TRC). There is no doubt about the cru­cial role played by Des­mond Tutu’s TRC in ush­er­ing South Africa to­wards a new tra­jec­tory. As the South Africans rightly recog­nised in es­tab­lish­ing the TRC process, there can never be true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with­out jus­tice. Le­sotho will have to face the ghosts of its re­cent past if the coun­try is ever go­ing to march into the fu­ture with a sense of pur­pose and a united vi­sion sup­ported by a ma­jor­ity of its cit­i­zens.

As it has done in the past, SADC is only in­ter­ven­ing to help us find so­lu­tions to our prob­lems as Ba­sotho. Yet the high con­tempt in which the coali­tion govern­ment seems to be now hold­ing the re­gional body is hardly help­ful. Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili and his spe­cial ad­vi­sor Dr Fako Likoti have been at pains to ex­plain that SADC can­not im­pose any­thing on Le­sotho. But has SADC sought or even tried to im­pose any­thing on Le­sotho yet. What SADC did was to fa­cil­i­tate a com­mis­sion of in­quiry to help re­solve mat­ters in a mem­ber state. Our govern­ment ac­qui­esced to that process. It wasn’t forced to host the Phumaphi com­mis­sion. The com­mis­sion has now com­pleted its work. It should go with­out say­ing that ev­ery Mosotho should be ea­ger to know the find­ings of this com­mis­sion for what they are all worth.

At their press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, spokes­men for coali­tion govern­ment par­ties ral­lied be­hind Dr Mo­sisili’s re­fusal to re­ceive the SADC Com­mis­sion’s re­port into the killing of Lt-gen­ma­hao un­til the High Court had fi­nalised Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi’s case chal­leng­ing the in­quiry’s le­git­i­macy. Lt- Col Hashatsi’s case ef­fec­tively seeks to nul­lify the en­tire Phumaphi com­mis­sion. We see noth­ing to be gained from this ap­par­ent vain ef­fort. A lot is be­ing made of the fact that Lt Col Hashatsi, like any other Mosotho has a right to pe­ti­tion the courts. In a sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle else­where in this news­pa­per, Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane ex­plains why Lt Colonel Hashatsi’s court case is at best an ex­er­cise in sophistry.

There is in­deed no log­i­cal le­gal ar­gu­ment to sup­port Lt Colonel Hashatsi’s case against a com­mis­sion set up by 14 heads of state and govern­ment of a ven­er­a­ble re­gional body. Let’s sup­pose by some sheer le­gal mys­tery that Lt Colonel Hashatsi wins his case. Will it then mean that the govern­ment will then per­ma­nently refuse to ac­cept the SADC re­port? Will it mean that the SADC ef­fort to help un­cover the cir­cum­stances of Ma­hao’s death will then be dead in the wa­ter? What pur­pose and aim will be served by Lt Colonel Hashatsi’s vic­tory? If Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili is so adamant that his govern­ment is not bound by Phumaphi’s rec­om­men­da­tions, why should it be a prob­lem to sim­ply ac­cept this re­port and see what it con­tains then ac­cept or re­ject the rec­om­men­da­tions? Is it not bet­ter to at least show some mod­icum of re­spect to a re­gional body which has in the past helped res­cue Dr Mo­sisili’s own premier­ship and whose in­ter­ven­tion the govern­ment may as well need for it­self in fu­ture should any past his­tory re­peat it­self?

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