Mets­ing al­lays fears over SADC re­port

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

DEPUTY Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing yes­ter­day said the Phumaphi re­port would be tabled be­fore the Na­tional As­sem­bly on 8 Fe­bru­ary as promised by the govern­ment.

SADC had given Le­sotho un­til Mon­day this week to pub­lish the re­port put to­gether by a team of re­gional se­cu­rity and le­gal ex­perts led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi.

Jus­tice Phumaphi was tasked by SADC to in­ves­ti­gate the death of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao at the hands of the mil­i­tary on the af­ter­noon of 25 June 2015.

Af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Botswana judge com­piled a re­port of his com­mis­sion’s find­ings but the govern­ment had said it would not re­ceive the doc­u­ment be­cause of a court case by Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi chal­leng­ing the probe’s le­gal­ity.

But af­ter Le­sotho was threat- ened with sus­pen­sion from the re­gional body be­cause of his re­fusal to take the re­port and make it pub­lic, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili fi­nally bowed down to pres­sure and brought the doc­u­ment home from a SADC Dou­ble Troika sum­mit held in Botswana on 18 Jan­uary.

How­ever, Mr Mets­ing met with SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion chair­per­son, Mozam­bique pres­i­dent Filipe Nyusi and an un­named rep­re­sen­ta­tive of SADC chair­per­son, Pres­i­dent Ian Khama of Botswana, on the side­lines of the African Union (AU) sum­mit held last Satur­day in Ethiopia and asked that govern­ment be al­lowed to ta­ble the re­port in par­lia­ment on 8 Fe­bru­ary and not pub­lish it on 1 Fe­bru­ary as ini­tially di­rected by the re­gional bloc.

Mr Mets­ing yes­ter­day said the re­port would be tabled in the Na­tional As­sem­bly on Mon­day next week, “un­less rea­sons to stop it un­ex­pect­edly come up.”

Mr Mets­ing said he was shocked that some Ba­sotho were happy about Le­sotho’s pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion from SADC be­cause of the re­port.

“I was re­ally shocked by some Ba­sotho who were ap­plaud­ing the pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion of Le­sotho from SADC. Those peo­ple did not re­alise that if the sus­pen­sion hap­pened, it was go­ing to af­fect all of us and that re­ac­tion made me con­clude that some of our peo­ple are ig­no­rant,” he said.

The deputy premier said it was im­por­tant for Ba­sotho to un­der­stand why a coun­try could be sus­pended SADC.

“In most in­stances, na­tions get sus­pended from SADC be­cause of un­con­sti­tu­tional gov­er­nance and in the case of Le­sotho, there is noth­ing like that. The govern­ment of Le­sotho took a fair po­si­tion and in­di­cated that it re­spects the rule of law and will wait for the case that is cur­rently in court. Tak­ing a stand did not ruin the smooth and warm re­la­tions be­tween the govern­ment of Le­sotho and SADC. The govern­ment of Le­sotho and SADC are still work­ing to­gether and the re­la­tions are still very good.”

For­eign Affairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane also said re­la­tions be­tween SADC and Le­sotho were still cor­dial.

“The re­la­tion­ship be­tween SADC and the govern­ment of Le­sotho has never been sour. Ev­ery­thing has been fine and we would like to urge peo­ple to stop mak­ing base­less al­le­ga­tions that the re­la­tion­ship is no longer good,” Mr Sekhamane said.

“If Le­sotho can be sus­pended from the African Union or SADC, it will be a very sad day for our coun­try, and such a de­vel­op­ment can never be some­thing to be happy about.

“We can­not be happy when we lose such things as the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion compact the way oth­ers were say­ing.”

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