Govt stance on SADC ill-advised
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?