Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

IN a week of high drama, the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) de­scended with a heavy ham­mer on Le­sotho, is­su­ing an un­prece­dented ul­ti­ma­tum for the govern­ment to pub­lish the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion re­port and im­ple­ment its rec­om­men­da­tions. But while agree­ing to re­lease the re­port within the or­dered 14-day ul­ti­ma­tum, a de­fi­ant Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili said last night the Le­sotho govern­ment would not be frog-marched into im­ple­ment­ing all of the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions as th­ese were not legally bind­ing.

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists in the cap­i­tal last night, Dr Mo­sisili em­pha­sized that only court rul­ings were bind­ing but never rec­om­men­da­tions of com­mis­sions.

The premier said he would ta­ble the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion re­port in Par­lia­ment within the 14-day dead­line pre­scribed by SADC, but also warned that his govern­ment would edit out from the re­port any parts that threat­ened the coun­try’s peace and se­cu­rity, if any are found, be­fore mak­ing it pub­lic.

Dr Mo­sisili’s de­ci­sion to ac­cept the re­port at a SADC dou­ble troika sum­mit in Gaborone this week was a ma­jor climb-down from his ear­lier stated po­si­tion that he would never ac­cept the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion re­port be­fore the con­clu­sion of a court case in which Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo hashatsi is seek­ing to nul­lify the en­tire Phumaphi com­mis­sion and its find­ings.

An equally de­fi­ant SADC stated in an un­usu­ally frank com­mu­nique at the end of its dou­ble troika sum­mit in Gaborone this week that it was not bound by the hashatsi court case declar­ing that, “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 sum­mit com­pris­ing of Botswana, Mozam­bique, South Africa, Swazi­land, Tan­za­nia and Zim­babwe, said SADC en­joyed im­mu­nity from any court ac­tions in terms of the SADC Treaty and the SADC Pro­to­col on Im­mu­ni­ties and Priv­i­leges.

South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma went even fur­ther telling the South African Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (SABC)’S Morn­ing Live pro­gramme on Tues­day that SADC would uni­lat­er­ally re­lease the re­port to the pub­lic if Dr Mo­sisili re­fused to ac­cept it. Mr Zuma fur­ther said the troika would pro­ceed to sus­pend all its me­di­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in Le­sotho in ad­di­tion to rec­om­mend­ing to a fuller SADC sum­mit Le­sotho’s com­plete sus­pen­sion from the re­gional body.

It is this tough stance by the dou­ble troika that is seen as hav­ing coaxed Dr Mo­sisili’s climb-down to ac­cept the re­port he had vowed never to re­ceive un­til the fi­nal­iza­tion of Lt-col hashatsi’s court case.

Both Pres­i­dent Zuma’s re­marks and the strongly worded com­mu­nique of the dou­ble troika, marked a fun­da­men­tal shift of pol­icy against a mem­ber state by the usu­ally timid and supine SADC which has stood by as a dis­in­ter­ested spec­ta­tor as Robert Mu­gabe has de­stroyed his once pros­per­ous Zim­babwe through a com­bi­na­tion of mass mur­der, rou­tine elec­toral theft and eco­nomic pil­lag­ing.

Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili was none­the­less unim­pressed by Mr Zuma’s un­prece­dented anti-le­sotho re­marks and yes­ter­day ac­cused the South African pres­i­dent of em­ploy­ing dou­ble-stan­dards.

He said Mr Zuma had writ­ten to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) to dis­suade it from hold­ing South Africa ac­count­able for its fail­ure to ar­rest Su­danese Pres­i­dent Omar Al Bashir while he was in Jo­han­nes­burg as or­dered by a South African court. Yet Mr Zuma was quick to rep­ri­mand Le­sotho when its govern­ment was merely seek­ing to re­spect its court pro­cesses vis–à– vis the de­mands of an in­ter­na­tional fo­rum.

“This is the same thing that to­day they (South Africa) are claim­ing im­mu­nity by say­ing that ICC should hold their horses in this re­gard (hold­ing SA ac­count­able over the Bashir case), and yet you (Mr Zuma) main­tain that it’s wrong when we say a re­gional bloc should hold their horses since we still have a case in court. how are th­ese two sce­nar­ios dif­fer­ent?” asked Dr Mo­sisili rhetor­i­cally.

“Why is it right when you say the ICC, an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion should hold its horses and yet it’s wrong when we (Le­sotho) say a re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tion should hold its horses on the same ba­sis? The prin­ci­ple is the same Mr Pres­i­dent. What is good for the goose is good for the gan­der.

“It is sur­pris­ing that a bloc that be­lieves in democ­racy and rule of law (SADC) can say that courts’ de­ci­sions are not bind­ing to the ex­tent of writ­ing it down in black and white. This is a blun­der! I said to them, if the courts of Le­sotho do not mean any­thing to you, they mean ev­ery­thing to us.”

It seems more wor­ry­ingly for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture re­la­tions be­tween SADC and Le­sotho is Dr Mo­sisili’s in­sis­tence that any rec­om­men­da­tions of the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion are not bind­ing and the govern­ment would ef­fec­tively cherry pick those that it wanted to im­ple­ment.

The dou­ble troika said un­equiv­o­cally in its com­mu­nique that it had “re­ceived and en­dorsed the re­port of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry and urged the govern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho to im­ple­ment its rec­om­men­da­tions”.

Some an­a­lysts in­sist that this means the Le­sotho govern­ment must im­ple­ment the en­tirety of the rec­om­men­da­tions but Dr Mo­sisili said this was not the case.

“There is this hul­la­baloo that I’m hear­ing, that the rec­om­men­da­tions are bind­ing. That’s a con­tra­dic­tion. The only thing that’s bind­ing is the rul­ing of the courts. Rec­om­menda- tions will never be bind­ing, un­less the word rec­om­men­da­tion means some­thing else in Le­sotho,” said a de­fi­ant Dr Mo­sisili.

he said his govern­ment would study the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion re­port and only im­ple­ment those rec­om­men­da­tions “that can be im­ple­mented”.

Those who claim to have knowl­edge of the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion re­port say cen­tral to its re­port is its con­dem­na­tion of the re­in­state­ment of Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli to the com­mand of the LDF as the main source of the prob­lems in Le­sotho and its rec­om­men­da­tion that he be re­moved from that post to fa­cil­i­tate na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. If that is the case, this may turn out to be one of the main bones of con­tention as the Le­sotho govern­ment has been stead­fast in stand­ing by Lt-gen Kamoli.

Dr Mo­sisili also warned that should the At­tor­ney-gen­eral ad­vice that parts of the re­port would put the coun­try’s peace and se­cu­rity at stake, his govern­ment would not hes­i­tate to re­move any such parts from the fi­nal re­port.

“In the un­likely event that the AG may ad­vice that some parts of the re­port should not be pub­lished as they put the state’s se­cu­rity at risk, we will not hes­i­tate to ex­punge those rec­om­men­da­tions and I so pray that that won’t hap­pen.”

Dr Mo­sisili said the govern­ment would also seek le­gal opin­ion on the re­port. He was con­fi­dent that it would im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions that were amenable to be im­ple­mented ex­pe­di­tiously and re­port to SADC in due course as or­dered in the com­mu­nique.

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili

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