Fallout with sadc lesotho’s undoing
THIS week was quite eventful, even by Lesotho’s standards. In recent years, the Mountain Kingdom has been hogging the limelight for all the wrong reasons at successive Southern African Development Community (SADC) summits yet few regional meetings can be compared to the extraordinary Summit of SADC’S Double Troika in Gaborone, Botswana.
As reported elsewhere in this edition, the government had to climb down on its insistence that it would only receive the SADC Commission of Inquiry’s report into Lesotho’s instability until the finalisation of Lieutenant-colonel Tefo hashatsi’s court challenge of the probe’s legality.
however, after SADC issued an unprecedented threat of suspension from the bloc, the government of Lesotho made a volte-face and agreed to receive the document. As if the roller coaster was not chilling enough, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili remained defiant during a press conference yesterday, saying the government would pick and choose the recommendations they deemed appropriate to implement in the report.
Given the premier’s apparent disdain for the report, a visitor to Lesotho without any prior knowledge of the country’s politics, would be shocked to discover that Dr Mosisili himself made the proposal for a Commission of Inquiry during a SADC extraordinary Summit of the Double Troika which was convened last July in Pretoria following the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao.
Sceptics have accused the premier of proposing the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry as a way of buying time given the raw emotions around the country following the slaying of Lt-gen Mahao. When the anger subsided, Dr Mosisili’s opponents say, his government began to frustrate the inquiry’s operations since its usefulness had ended. Whether these allegations have basis or not, it is unfortunate that Lesotho is once again on its way to squandering an opportunity to get its house in order.
Understandably, SADC has become exasperated with having to send mediators and pouring resources, which could be used for economic development, in initiatives to end this nation’s perennial instability.
To set up the Commission of Inquiry, SADC member states had to fork out millions of maloti, only for the report to be trashed and rejected by its supposed beneficiaries. SADC Facilitator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa, has expended many hours of his valuable time in a seemingly ill-fated bid to resolve Lesotho’s political challenges.
however, as the regional bloc now seems to have washed its hands of this nation’s problems, there remain serious challenges that will continue to stymie this nation’s social and economic advances. No progressive Mosotho can deny that Lesotho is beset by perennial crises which stem from security challenges. It is no coincidence that Lesotho has experienced more military coups than the other SADC states since independence in 1966.
Given its unique structure, the coalition government has a unique opportunity to address some of the fissures in this nation’s body politic for the benefit of posterity. Instead of pretending that they don’t exist, the introspection afforded this nation by the Phumaphi report can help to identify and iron out some of the structural faults in our nation.
We can only hope that Dr Mosisili was sincere in his pledge yesterday to do all in his power to implement the recommendations made in the report. This would entail engaging stakeholders, including the opposition and civil society, in mapping a way forward for Lesotho. Sincerity, in all the stakeholders involved, would be paramount if any progress is to be made.
Dialogue is the only solution to the logjam in our beloved Mountain Kingdom. Our leaders need to realise that this instability results in a lose-lose scenario for all involved. The longer this horrid soap opera plays out, Lesotho’s standing among the community of nations continues to go down the drain. With it are the fortunes of our already impoverished economy which is already feeling the strain of the instability.