SADC ul­ti­ma­tum for Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

THE South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Dou­ble Troika on Mon­day or­dered the Le­sotho govern­ment to pub­li­cise Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi’s re­port within four­teen days.

SADC tasked Jus­tice Phumaphi to head a 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion of re­gional and se­cu­rity ex­perts to in­ves­ti­gate the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao in June last year, and other se­cu­rity-re­lated is­sues.

Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao was killed just out­side Maseru by LDF mem­bers, al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny.

Jus­tice Phumaphi and his team con­ducted their in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015 in both Le­sotho and South Africa and last month sub­mit­ted a re­port of their find­ings to a meet­ing of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion held in Jo­han­nes­burg. The meet­ing was at­tended by Pres­i­dent Filipe Jac­into Nyusi of Mozam­bique (the Or­gan’s chair), South Africa (SA) Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma (out­go­ing chair), and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Tan­za­nia (in­com­ing chair).

How­ever, the Or­gan ex­pressed con­cern that a mem­ber of the LDF, Lt-col Tefo Hashatsi, was chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of the Com­mis­sion in the High Court. Lt-col Hashatsi was one of sev­eral wit­nesses in­ter­viewed by the Com­mis­sion but in his law­suit filed on 16 Oc­to­ber 2015, claimed Jus­tice Phumaphi was bi­ased and made him ap­pear a sus­pect in Lt-gen Ma­hao’s killing hence his prayer that the Com­mis­sion be de­clared il­le­gal. The Spe­cial Forces Com­man­der also claimed in the ap­pli­ca­tion that the Com­mis­sion had al­legedly vi­o­lated terms of its es­tab­lish­ment by hear­ing ev­i­dence in Thaba-nchu, South Africa, yet it had been es­tab­lished by a Le­sotho law.

But dur­ing its 5 De­cem­ber 2015 meet­ing held in Jo­han­nes­burg, the Dou­ble Troika asked SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor in the Le­sotho cri­sis, SA Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, to visit Maseru (on 16 De­cem­ber) and ex­press the Or­gan’s con­cern re­gard- ing Lt-col Hashatsi’s case.

SADC’S Dou­ble Troika com­pris­ing Botswana pres­i­dent Ian Khama (SADC chair), Mr Zuma, Swazi­land Prime Min­is­ter Barn­abas Sibu­siso Dlamini, Mr Nyusi, Tan­za­nia Prime Min­is­ter Ma­jaliwa Ma­jaliwa, and Zim­babwe For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi, then con­vened a meet­ing in Gaborone this week to dis­cuss Mr Ramaphosa’s visit to Le­sotho.

Af­ter the sum­mit, Mr Zuma told the South African me­dia that the Dou­ble Troika had agreed to sus­pend all SADC ac­tiv­i­ties in Le­sotho be­cause Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili had said the Phumaphi re­port should not be made pub­lic be­cause of Lt-col Hashatsi’s case. Mr Zuma also said the sum­mit’s de­ci­sion would be dis­cussed by all 15 SADC mem­bers, but an of­fi­cial com­mu­niqué is­sued by the re­gional bloc on Tues­day did not men­tion the sus­pen­sion but only a 14-day ul­ti­ma­tum for govern­ment to pub­li­cise the Phumaphi re­port.

The state­ment also noted that the Le­sotho Govern­ment had been asked to en­sure a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for the safe re­turn of oppo- sition lead­ers and their sup­port­ers, as well as LDF mem­bers, who have been liv­ing in ex­ile in South Africa since May last year fear­ing for their lives.

The com­mu­niqué reads in part: “The Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit re­ceived and en­dorsed the re­port of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry and urged the govern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho to im­ple­ment its rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit handed over the re­port of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry to the govern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho… and tasked the govern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho to pro­vide feed­back to the Chair of the Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion and pub­lish the re­port within 14 days (1 Fe­bru­ary 2016).”

The state­ment also em­pha­sised that the Com­mis­sion was “im­mune” to lit­i­ga­tion in ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to Lt-col Hashatsi’s law­suit.

Read the com­mu­niqué: “The Dou­ble Troika sum­mit re­ceived the mis­sion re­port from the SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor and re­it­er­ated that SADC en­joys im­mu­nity as per SADC Treaties and Pro­to­cols on im­mu­ni­ties and priv­i­leges and urged the King­dom of Le­sotho to abide by the im­mu­nity pro­vi­sions. Any court de­ci­sion taken against the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry is of no le­gal ef­fect and will not bind SADC and its in­sti­tu­tions.”

The Dou­ble Troika also said it had “noted with con­cern” that Le­sotho had not re­formed its con­sti­tu­tion, pub­lic and se­cu­rity sec­tors.

“The Dou­ble Troika sum­mit urged the King­dom of Le­sotho to pre­pare, with the sup­port of the Or­gan Troika and the Sec­re­tar­iat, a roadmap for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­forms as con­tained in the SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor’s Fi­nal Re­port. The govern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho is to sub­mit a progress re­port in Au­gust 2016,” the com­mu­niqué noted.

On the is­sue of sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho, the sum­mit “urged the govern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho and political stake­hold­ers to ac­tively con­trib­ute a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment to al­low the safe re­turn to Le­sotho of op­po­si­tion lead­ers and se­cu­rity forces mem­bers who are in ex­ile.”

All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader and for­mer prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) leader, Keketso Ran­tšo and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader, Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane, fled to South Africa in May 2015 af­ter al­leg­ing some LDF mem­bers were out to kill them for al­legedly vic­tim­is­ing them when they were in govern­ment.

Dr Tha­bane was leader of a coali­tion govern­ment com­pris­ing his ABC, BNP, and Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy. Ms Ran­tšo was a mem­ber of Dr Tha­bane’s cab­i­net and was an LCD of­fi­cial at the time.

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili (right) re­ceives Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi’s re­port from Botswana Pres­i­dent Ian Khama Khama while SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Dr Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax looks on.

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