Le­sotho doesn't need a TRC

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Ut­loang Ka­jeno

LET us start from premise that the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry rec­om­men­da­tions are adopted, bind­ing and pros­e­cutable. In the af­ter­math of the dis­cus­sion by the SADC Troika on Pol­i­tics, De­fense and Se­cu­rity De­vel­op­ment on Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity and the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, it is per­haps ap­pro­pri­ate to dis­cuss the pru­dence of es­tab­lish­ing a truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion com­mis­sion (TRC) for who­ever is re­spon­si­ble for any trans­gres­sions of the law. I am piqued to air my opin­ion on this propo­si­tion by some un­scrupu­lous mem­bers of our so­ci­ety and politi­cians who are bran­dish­ing this mis­nomer in re­la­tion to the per­ti­nent is­sues in Le­sotho.

Their flawed ar­gu­ment is that if the Com­mis­sion hap­pens to rec­om­mend the in­sti­tu­tion of crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion against those sus­pected of crim­i­nal con­duct then they should be spared the ret­ri­bu­tion of sanc­tion by our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

They fur­ther draw com­par­isons (through cer­tain ra­dio sta­tions) be­tween their pro­posed TRC for Le­sotho with those in post-apartheid South Africa (SA) and other coun­tries. Read­ers will re­call that in post-apartheid SA, most of the per­pe­tra­tors of gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion and heinous killings were spared the ret­ri­bu­tion of the coun­try’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem af­ter they owned-up to their crim­i­nal deeds.

This was done in an ef­fort to rec­on­cile the op­pressed and per­se­cuted black ma­jor­ity with the mostly white mi­nor­ity un­der the evil sys­tem of apartheid. This was a col­lec­tive na­tional at­tempt to rec­on­cile the dif­fer­ent races that were so po­lar­ized by the evil sys­tem of the govern­ment that mankind has ever known.

The new regime also made at­tempts, al­though the jury is still out, to re­dress the un­for­tu­nate im­bal­ance of the evil apartheid regime. To their credit, the per­pe­tra­tors of th­ese gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions that were sys­tem­at­i­cally, un­leashed on the ma­jor­ity black pop­u­la­tion owned-up and ad­mit­ted their in­dis­cre­tions pub­licly and asked for for­give­ness.

In one such rev­e­la­tion of their evils that will for­ever re­main etched in my mem­ory, the rev­e­la­tions even moved the Emer­i­tus Angli­can Arch­bishop of Cape Town, Des­mond Tutu, to tears on pub­lic tele­vi­sion in a scene that was broad­cast all over the world. The per­pe­tra­tors bared all their evil deeds to the world.

Let us, for ar­gu­ment’s sake, which I sin­cerely doubt will ever hap­pen with our ar­ro­gant per­pe­tra­tors in Le­sotho, imag­ine that we reach a TRC in­ter­ven­tion, ev­i­dently by their con­duct and an­swers be­fore the SADC Com­mis­sion. The per­pe­tra­tors of th­ese evil deeds would never own-up and apol­o­gize to their vic­tims in Le­sotho. If any­thing, they are ar­ro­gant and adamant that the cal­lous and heinous deeds they are al­leged to have com­mit­ted were jus­ti­fied.

To add in­sult to in­jury, one such per­pe­tra­tor, name with­held, re-it­er­ated in his tes­ti­mony be­fore the Com­mis­sion that they were still go­ing to re­sume their cal­lous wan­ton deeds even af­ter the Com­mis­sion has wrapped-up its work. Where is the at­tempt to rec­on­cile with the vic­tims as in the SA-TRC? None! Ex­cept a dis­play of ar­ro­gance and per­sis­tent per­se­cu­tion that is in fact con­temp­tu­ous.

In apartheid SA like in Le­sotho, at least by con­duct, and pub­lic ut­ter­ances of our govern­ment, os­ten­si­bly, govern­ment is ac­qui­esc­ing to the per­sis­tent per­se­cu­tion of the vic­tims as it seems not to care nor is­sue a pub­lic con­dem­na­tion or make tan­gi­ble at­tempts to bring to book the per­pe­tra­tors of gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, flaunt­ing of le­git­i­mate court or­ders and var­i­ous other acts of mis­rule. If any­thing govern­ment seems to ac­qui­esce to th­ese un­for­tu­nate deeds. How­ever, the sim­i­lar­ity ends here sadly.

In apartheid SA there was a whole bat­tery of dra­co­nian statutes that were in place to per­pe­trate the evil sys­tem of apartheid such as the Ri­otous As­sem­bly, Sup­pres­sion of Com­mis­sion, Group Ar­eas, Sep­a­rate Ameni­ties, and the Con­sti­tu­tion that en­sures a whiteonly, later Tri-cam­eral Par­lia­ment Acts.

In con­trast, Le­sotho has no such dra­co­nian pieces of leg­is­la­tion to per­pe­trate the type of per­se­cu­tion that an­other half or more of the pop­u­lace live un­der. At least with the apartheid zealots their de­fense or rather flowed jus­ti­fi­ca­tion was that they were act­ing in pur­suance of their coun­try but in Le­sotho such ar­gu­ment is zilch.

It sim­ply does not hold wa­ter. This king­dom has laws and a Con­sti­tu­tion in place that are eq­ui­table and need to be ap­plied to all per­sons alike. This king­dom has the Judi- ciary that, bar­ring the odd in­tim­i­da­tion and un­der­min­ing of the rule of law and its in­de­pen­dence, is as good and im­par­tial as any in an ac­cept­able mod­ern demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion.

How­ever, with Le­sotho the un­for­tu­nate sce­nario is that some in­sti­tu­tions that are con­sti­tu­tion­ally charged with pro­mot­ing and up­hold­ing the rule of law and ap­ply­ing eq­ui­table laws of the king­dom are do­ing the di­rect op­po­site. They are, for em­pha­sis sake, unashamedly en­gag­ing in the an­tithe­sis of this noble sys­tem of govern­ment that is at peace with it­self and the world.

In con­trast, apartheid was state spon­sored ter­ror­ism and this is not the sce­nario that ob­tains in Le­sotho. In Le­sotho, some in­sti­tu­tions and very high-rank­ing of­fi­cials are sim­ply sleep­ing on the job or un­der­min­ing the au­thor­ity of the state and its demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions. There are there­fore le­gal and in­sti­tu­tional in­ter­ven­tions al­ready in place to ad­dress this sce­nario.

Since 1993, Le­sotho had the foun­da­tional, in­sti­tu­tional and le­gal ca­pac­ity and frame­work to found the bedrock of a solid democ­racy where the state lives at peace with its cit­i­zens, in­sti­tu­tions within its bound­aries and other coun­tries. In con­trast, SA since 1945 un­til 1994, never had th­ese frame­works and in­sti­tu­tions. The sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho there­fore does not call for a TRC at all.

Fur­ther­more, in apartheid SA one would ar­gue that the le­gal and in­sti­tu­tional frame­work that ex­isted prior to 1994 some­how jus­ti­fied the es­tab­lish­ment of the TRC but not so in Le­sotho. In apartheid SA, this frame­work war­ranted the black ma­jor­ity and like-minded whites to de­clare war and take-up arms against the evil sys­tem of apartheid.

Con­tin­ued on page 16 . . .

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