SADC: Strug­gle for or­der and ac­count­abil­ity in Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Prof mafa m. Se­jana­mane

“The first method for es­ti­mat­ing the in­tel­li­gence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” Nic­colo Machi­avelli

Overview THE prin­ci­ples and ob­jec­tives of SADC since its for­ma­tion are enu­mer­ated in the Con­sol­i­dated Text of the Treaty of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity. Among the prin­ci­ples are sol­i­dar­ity, peace and se­cu­rity; and hu­man rights, democ­racy and the rule of law. The ob­jec­tives are to:

l Pro­mote com­mon political val­ues, sys­tems and other shared val­ues which are trans­mit­ted through in­sti­tu­tions which are demo­cratic, le­git­i­mate and ef­fec­tive;

l Con­sol­i­date, de­fend and main­tain democ­racy, peace, se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity.

It is in ac­cor­dance with the SADC prin­ci­ples on sol­i­dar­ity, peace and se­cu­rity and in line with the ob­jec­tives of the or­ga­ni­za­tion to pro­mote demo­cratic val­ues and sys­tems that Le­sotho has, for over 20 years, been scru­ti­nized.

For most of that pe­riod, SADC has uti­lized political and diplo­matic as­sets to en­sure that this black sheep of the re­gion is brought to or­der, and to bring to or­der those who have crossed the demo­cratic line.

In ad­di­tion to the above, SADC has on two pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions used force or the threat of force to en­sure or­der and the rule of law is re­stored. In 1998, it brought in units of the South African and Botswana armies, later joined by Mozam­bi­can forces to quell a re­bel­lion which had started off as a protest against the 1998 elec­tion re­sults.

From Septem­ber 2014 af­ter an at­tempted coup which led to the flee­ing of both the then prime min­is­ter and sev­eral other se­nior per­son­nel to South Africa, SADC brought them back into the coun­try un­der its se­cu­rity de­tail.

This se­cu­rity cover to key political lead­ers was pro­vided un­til the 2015 elec­tions and in­cluded in­creased elec­tion se­cu­rity pro­tec­tion by the same.

The crux of the mat­ter is that Le­sotho has over 20 years de­pended on re­gional sol­i­dar­ity to en­sure that rem­nants of the State re­main func­tional. In both 1994 and 1998, some of those hold­ing political of­fice now know that they were only brought back to of­fice through SADC in­ter­ven­tion.

Know­ing that, they should have been grat­i­fied that SADC has political and diplo­matic mus­cle which our govern­ment can­not match. The lead­er­ship, how­ever, seems to have taken re­gional sol­i­dar­ity for granted to the ex­tent that a ju­nior of­fi­cer can go to the me­dia and vir­tu­ally dare SADC to do its worst. Sol­i­dar­ity has lim­its. Political of­fice bear­ers must read the signs and pre­pare for the back­lash from SADC for a num­ber of provoca­tive ac­tions they have taken against the es­tab­lished norms within the re­gion.

In all those in­ter­ven­tions, SADC re­stricted it­self to stop­ping wrong­do­ing rather than to make wrong­do­ers to ac­count for their deeds. As I will try to show below, the cur­rent SADC in­ter­ven­tion in Le­sotho is more fo­cussed on en­sur­ing ac­count­abil­ity than merely stop­ping wrong­do­ing.

The Phumaphi Com­mis­sion was pri­mar­ily es­tab­lished by SADC to gather facts about the mur­der of Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao and the al­leged mutiny within the Le­sotho De­fence Force.

It was specif­i­cally meant to find the facts and to iden­tify those im­pli­cated in the ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties which con­tinue to desta­bilise the coun­try.

It was meant to bring to an end its nev­erend­ing in­ter­ven­tions in Le­sotho. Set­ting up the Com­mis­sion was un­prece­dented and also an in­di­ca­tor that the in­ter­nal struc­tures had fallen apart.

For pur­poses of this ar­ti­cle, I will only out­line and an­a­lyse the is­sues re­lated to the lat­est de­vel­op­ments around the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion and the col­lapse of the rule of law in Le­sotho.

Now that the Com­mis­sion has re­ported to the Troika, the crit­i­cal ques­tion is not whether there will be ac­count­abil­ity, but what struc­tures have been es­tab­lished to en­force ac­count­abil­ity.

Ob­struct­ing the SADC Com­mis­sion It must, for pur­poses of record, be pointed out that the Dou­ble Troika meet­ing which formed the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion was pre­ceded by a dis­cus­sion of the MapisaNqag­ula Fact Find­ing Mis­sion Re­port which clearly spelt out the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in Le­sotho.

It is for the same rea­sons that the Le­sotho govern­ment was re­quested to co­op­er­ate with the Com­mis­sion to en­sure that it is able to do its work.

From the be­gin­ning, how­ever, there were ex­tra­or­di­nary mea­sures taken by govern­ment to ob­struct the work of the Com­mis­sion. While there have been many at­tempts, the fol­low­ing are the most sig­nif­i­cant:

a) The ini­tial govern­ment at­tempt to emas­cu­late the Com­mis­sion be­gan with the pub­li­ca­tion of the Terms of Ref­er­ence (Tors) of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry un­der the aus­pices of the Pub­lic In­quiries Act 1994. SADC had is­sued clear Tors which were fo­cused on deal­ing with the se­cu­rity is­sues and also the mur­der of Lt-gen Ma­hao. The first batch of Tors in a govern­ment gazette in July 2015 was un­am­bigu­ous.

They were meant to di­lute the fo­cus of the Com­mis­sion by redi­rect­ing its ef­forts into broader gov­er­nance is­sues i.e. whether in­creas­ing po­lice salaries in the middle of the fi­nan­cial year was le­gal.

The SADC Sum­mit in Gaborone in Au­gust 2015 re­jected the bid and in­sisted that the Tors should be pub­lished as ap­proved by the Dou­ble Troika in July 2015.

b) The se­cond at­tempt to frus­trate the work of the Com­mis­sion was made by Colonel Bu­lane Sechele, rep­re­sent­ing the LDF in the first day of the sit­ting of the Com­mis­sion.

Col Sechele first de­manded that the Com­mis­sion must not in­ves­ti­gate any mat­ter re­lated to the al­leged mutiny since that fell within the com­pe­tence of the court-mar­tial.

The Com­mis­sion rightly re­jected that since it could not amend its own man­date. Se­cond, Col Sechele re­fused to re­veal the names of peo­ple who were in­volved in an op­er­a­tion which he con­ceded he headed on the al­leged mutiny us­ing both what he called op­er­a­tional rules and also the prin­ci­ple of self-in­crim­i­na­tion.

This was how­ever a fu­tile ex­cise since he had al­ready con­ceded that he headed the op­er­a­tion. In terms of the com­mon pur­pose prin­ci­ple, it is ir­rel­e­vant who pulled the trig­ger, what mat­ters is that a group of peo­ple had a com­mon pur­pose to com­mit a crime.

Con­tin­ued on Page 24 . . .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.