Govt angers Ramaphosa

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho, Cyril Ramaphosa, yes­ter­day left Le­sotho “a frus­trated man” af­ter govern­ment al­legedly main­tained that it would only re­ceive the Phumaphi re­port af­ter the High Court has fi­nalised Lieu­tenant-colonel Hashatsi’s case.

The Spe­cial Forces com­man­der is chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of the SADC in­quiry which re­sulted in Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi pro­duc­ing the re­port in ques­tion.

The re­gional bloc es­tab­lished the in­quiry af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili had asked for as­sis­tance in es­tab­lish­ing the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao on 25 June this year. Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot dead by his col­league on 25 June out­side Maseru al­legedly as he re­sisted ar­rest for mutiny.

How­ever, the Phumaphi re­port is yet to be made pub­lic due to Lt-col Hashatsi’s court case.

A meet­ing of the SADC troika on pol­i­tics, de­fence and se­cu­rity com­pris­ing South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, Mozam­bi­can Pres­i­dent Filipe Nyusi and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of new Tan­za­nian Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli held early this month in Jo­han­nes­burg re­solved to send Mr Ramaphosa to Le­sotho to en­gage govern­ment over the court case.

The sum­mit “noted with great con­cern that the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry had been taken to court and man­dated the Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to ex­pe­di­tiously com­mu­ni­cate the con­cerns of SADC to the King­dom of Le­sotho”.

Mr Ramaphosa even­tu­ally came to Maseru yes­ter­day and met with His Majesty King Let­sie III, Dr Mo­sisili and his fel­low govern­ment lead­ers, prin­ci­pal chiefs, Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho lead­ers and mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety. Mr Ramaphosa also met All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion deputy leader Tlali Khasu, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho deputy leader Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko. He also met with mem­bers of the Ma­hao fam­ily as he con­sulted over the Phumaphi re­port and LtCol Hashatsi’s chal­lenge.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Mr Ramaphosa did not ad­dress the me­dia as he was said to be on his way to meet Mr Nyusi late yes­ter­day on the Le­sotho is­sue.

How­ever, one of the prin­ci­pal chiefs who met Mr Ramaphosa yes­ter­day, Khoa­bane Theko told the Le­sotho Times that the South African deputy pres­i­dent had been “very dis­ap­pointed” with his en­gage­ment with lead­ers of the seven par­ties con­sti­tut­ing govern­ment.

“Ntate Ramaphosa met us af­ter his meet­ing with the govern­ment lead­ers. He told us that he was very dis­ap­pointed by govern­ment’s re­fusal to re­ceive the SADC re­port claim­ing they were be­ing guided by Le­sotho’s laws.

“Mr Ramaphosa said SADC con­sti­tu­tional and law ex­perts he brought with him told the govern­ment that the case which is be­fore the High Court only chal­lenges the va­lid­ity of com­mis­sion and also that there was never a court or­der to stop the re­lease of the re­port,” Chief Theko said.

“The chiefs ex­pressed con­cern to Mr Ramaphosa that the govern­ment wants to obey the rule of law only when it suits them. The chiefs told him that the same govern­ment failed to obey court or­ders for the re­lease of 22 sol­diers de­tained on mutiny al­le­ga­tions, so they could ap­pear be­fore Jus­tice Phumaphi’s com­mis­sion even af­ter the sol­diers had been sub­poe­naed.

“Mr Ramaphosa as­sured us to­day that SADC was fully aware of govern­ment’s stub­born be­hav­iour. He also told us that he could not make a de­ci­sion on the Le­sotho sit­u­a­tion and needed to take his find­ings to Pres­i­dent Nyusi, where he is go­ing to­day. He also said he be­lieved that he would soon come back to up­date rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers about the re­lease of the Phumaphi re­port. He said the court case won’t stop SADC from re­leas­ing the re­port,” Chief Theko said.

Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­tre Pro­grammes Di­rec­tor Tsikoane Peshoane also told the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day that he be­lieved Mr Ramaphosa left a frus­trated man.

“Mr Ramaphosa shared with us what he dis­cussed with the govern­ment. He told us, as civil so­ci­ety, that the govern­ment had been firm that it was not go­ing to shift from its po­si­tion of not tak­ing or ac­cept­ing the Phumaphi re­port be­fore Hashatsi’s case is set­tled by the courts.

“Since Mr Ramaphosa came with SADC le­gal ex­perts, he said he had thought the govern­ment was go­ing to un­der­stand what the spe­cial­ists had to say about SADC pro­to­cols and in­ter­na­tional laws over na­tional laws.

“How­ever, Mr Ramaphosa said the govern­ment told the ex­perts that re­gional treaties and in­ter­na­tional laws must be do­mes­ti­cated first be­fore they can be ef­fec­tive and Le­sotho had not done so.

“But he told us that the Phumaphi re­port was ready and could be re­leased any­time. He said he had seen that the govern­ment was to­tally dis­en­gag­ing it­self from the re­port,” Mr Peshoane said.

Mr Peshoane fur­ther said civil so­ci­ety warned Mr Ramaphosa that most Ba­sotho had put their hopes on the Phumaphi re­port help­ing re­store sta­bil­ity to Le­sotho. He also said civil so­ci­ety warned Mr Ramaphosa that there might be trou­ble should the re­port not be re­leased.

“It is well known that SADC re­ports on Le­sotho is­sues are never re­leased and cause chaos; it hap­pened in 1998 when the Langa re­port re­sulted in the burn­ing down of Maseru in­stead of bring­ing peace and sta­bil­ity.

“We also told Mr Ramaphosa that the govern­ment is just em­ploy­ing de­lay­ing tac­tics to suit their political in­ter­ests. All in all, we were try­ing to show him that the govern­ment had lost the plot this time around.”

Con­tacted for com­ment late last night, the Prime Min­is­ter’s Political Ad­vi­sor, Dr Fako Likoti, said: “I can’t talk about the PM’S meet­ing with Mr Ramaphosa be­cause it was closed; I was not part of it. I am not even aware of the peo­ple who met Mr Ramaphosa af­ter­wards.”

Mean­while, the wives of sol­diers de­tained at Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison on mutiny charges were at Avani Le­sotho ho­tel yes­ter­day hop­ing to meet Mr Ramaphosa on the plight of their hus­bands. The women were hold­ing plac­ards plead­ing for the re­lease of their hus­bands. How­ever, Mr Ramaphosa could not meet them. The sol­diers were ar­rested be­tween May and June this year and are be­ing tried by a Court Mar­tial.

Wives of de­tained sol­diers protest­ing as SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho Cyril ramaphosa ar­rived at AVANI Le­sotho.

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