Le­sotho at cross­roads

Lesotho Times - - Opin­ion -

This is why both President Zuma of South Africa and President Nyusi of Mozam­bique spelled out clearly that the Phumaphi rec­om­men­da­tions will have to be im­ple­mented. It is no longer about whether those rec­om­men­da­tions will be im­ple­mented but how and when those will be im­ple­mented.

The se­cond mile­stone of the Summit was that it brushed aside the Le­sotho Govern­ment’s ar­gu­ments that it was pre­cluded from ac­cept­ing the Phumaphi Re­port be­cause of an on-go­ing court case by Hashatsi meant to quash the Com­mis­sion. In para­graph six the Dou­ble Troika made it clear that “..court de­ci­sion taken against the Com­mis­sion of

In­quiry is of no le­gal ef­fect, and will not bind SADC and its In­sti­tu­tions”. It is not sig­nif­i­cant that sub­se­quently Jus­tice Mon­aphathi of the Le­sotho High Court ruled that the SADC can be sued in Le­sotho. In­ter­na­tional le­gal­ity in this mat­ter will al­ways be in favour of SADC rather than Le­sotho. This dec­la­ra­tion in one stroke dis­man­tled a care­fully chore­ographed plan to avoid ac­count­abil­ity for state agents.

Thirdly the Dou­ble Troika Summit ex­pressed its dis­plea­sure that the Le­sotho Govern­ment has not un­der­taken the con­sti­tu­tional, pub­lic sec­tor and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms which had been submitted by the Fa­cil­i­ta­tor. The Govern­ment was ac­cord­ingly urged to sub­mit a roadmap to the Summit in Au­gust 2016.

The is­sue here is that the Dou­ble Troika hav­ing iden­ti­fied the root of the prob­lem was now fo­cused on en­sur­ing that they do not have to un­der­take their fire brigade role again in Le­sotho. Se­cu­rity and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms are long over­due. But more im­por­tantly they can only be un­der­taken un­der SADC su­per­vi­sion. The po­lit­i­cal class in Le­sotho is un­likely to un­der­take such an im­por­tant task on its own.

Key Is­sues of the Phumaphi Re­port lthe crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the death of “..Bri­gadier Ma­hao be pur­sued vig­or­ously and that LMPS is em­pow­ered and re­sourced ac­cord­ingly.” It goes on to point out that the in­ves­ti­ga­tions must be done ex­pe­di­tiously, and com­pre­hen­sively, and with­out any hin­drance. All phys­i­cal evidence, it goes on must be handed over. The crit­i­cal point here is that some of the sus­pects have al­ready been iden­ti­fied. It also means that the ve­hi­cles, weapons and other re­lated mat­ters must be handed in to the po­lice. The whole ed­i­fice of a cover-up there­fore has nowhere to hide. It will col­lapse.

lthe Com­mis­sion more im­por­tantly has rec­om­mended and SADC has en­dorsed that Lt. Gen­eral Kamoli be re­lieved of his du­ties as Com­man­der LDF, and all LDF of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der and trea­son be sus­pended im­me­di­ately while in­ves­ti­ga­tions in their cases pro­ceed in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice. Ac­tion on this will un­block sev­eral bot­tle­necks in the Le­sotho po­lit­i­cal process.

It will at one level en­sure that when se­cu­rity re­form is done, peo­ple who have been in­volved and im­pli­cated in some of the re­cur­ring in­sta­bil­ity and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions will no longer be able to in­flu­ence the di­rec­tion of the se­cu­rity re­form. It will also en­sure that those in the op­po­si­tion lead­er­ship would be re­as­sured that they can re­turn from ex­ile, when the per­son they ac­cused of threat­en­ing them is no longer in charge of the LDF.

lthe Com­mis­sion has also iden­ti­fied sev­eral army of­fi­cers from the level of Bri­gadier to Lance Cor­po­ral who have avoided charges of trea­son; scores of other LDF Of­fi­cers who have also avoided the courts for cases rang­ing from mur­der to as­sault in Maseru, Morija, Mafeteng, Mo­hale, and Mokhot­long. The names of all those are avail­able. The Com­mis­sion has rec­om­mended that this syn­di­cate be dis­man­tled and those peo­ple should face the courts. This is an­other mile­stone.

lfi­nally the Com­mis­sion re­it­er­ated the ur­gency of un­der­tak­ing Con­sti­tu­tional, pub­lic sec­tor and se­cu­rity re­forms in or­der to en­sure that among other things, the se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment is un­der civil­ian con­trol. Se­condly in or­der to en­sure that the army has no role in in­ter­nal se­cu­rity mat­ters.

The ques­tion there­fore is what will hap­pen now that we have reached this stage. It is clear that on our own, in Le­sotho the above agenda is not achiev­able. We how­ever know that this is the only route for us whether we

like it or not.

Pos­si­ble Ob­sta­cles to SADC Di­rec­tives It is rare to find that a coun­try has to face out­siders who tell it that it has to im­ple­ment its laws when crimes have been com­mit­ted. When an in­di­vid­ual mur­ders an­other, the mat­ter does not re­quire a com­mis­sion of in­quiry. It needs pro­fes­sional po­lice of­fi­cers to in­ves­ti­gate and take sus­pects to court. It be­came ap­par­ent dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings of the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion when Sechele, one of the of­fi­cers of the LDF, tes­ti­fied that the po­lice can­not freely in­ves­ti­gate crimes com­mit­ted by sol­diers.

As has al­ready been ob­served, Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili has over the past few weeks been talk­ing about sovereignty and that the Govern­ment will choose what to im­ple­ment in line with the Pub­lic In­quiries Act. The first de­ci­sion which he faces is to re­lieve the Com­man­der of LDF of his du­ties. This will be the most dif­fi­cult task. In a sit­u­a­tion where civil­ian au­thor­i­ties are fear­ful of the army, this will al­ways be the case. He has an op­tion how­ever. He will be obliged to in­form and ask for as­sis­tance from SADC.

This self-cre­ated ob­sta­cle is how­ever key to the so­lu­tion of all other se­cu­rity is­sues in Le­sotho. The point is that those who have di­rected that the Com­man­der of LDF be re­moved are also ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble to re­move him if the Le­sotho Govern­ment fails to do. We must al­ways re­mem­ber that in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions the pow­er­ful do what they can and the weak suf­fer what they need to suf­fer.

SADC also en­vis­ages the ar­rest of all the over LDF of­fices who have been har­boured from the courts. It is a mi­nor ob­sta­cle as long as the head of the or­gan­i­sa­tion has been re­moved. All oth­ers will know that they will have the same fate. In essence, I ar­gue that the only ob­sta­cle that the Govern­ment faces is the self-cre­ated ones.

In 1998 the govern­ment headed by Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili faced col­lapse and ap­pealed for help to stay in of­fice. He thus knows that all the ob­sta­cles can be re­moved by SADC. Non-com­pli­ance with the SADC di­rec­tive will thus be out of his will­ing­ness to sac­ri­fice the coun­try in or­der to pro­tect those in the mil­i­tary who have com­mit­ted crimes.

Now that the re­port has been submitted, SADC will most prob­a­bly op­er­a­tionalise its Over­sight Com­mit­tee to en­sure that there is full com­pli­ance. That is what will en­sure that the im­ple­men­ta­tion plan for the first phase of the rec­om­men­da­tions-ac­count­abil­ity is­sues goes ac­cord­ing to plan. The long-term con­sti­tu­tional and other re­forms will fol­low af­ter Au­gust 2016.

Con­clu­sion It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion that Le­sotho is now in its most crit­i­cal stage. It is a stage where we are on pro­ba­tion to per­form in line with all the good gov­er­nance codes or to suf­fer the con­se­quences of fail­ure. Two things are im­por­tant to note here. First, SADC can en­force its de­ci­sions on Le­sotho with ease. What­ever ac­tion SADC takes will be painful, but will be a nec­es­sary medicine to bring us back from the politics of old. The threat of sus­pen­sion is real and that would be dev­as­tat­ing for the coun­try. A poor coun­try ap­peal­ing for food aid can­not af­ford to alien­ate the South­ern African re­gion.

Se­condly, Le­sotho govern­ment is fully aware that in­ter­na­tional part­ners are de­ter­mined to en­force ac­count­abil­ity. The day af­ter the Summit in Gaborone for ex­am­ple, the US Am­bas­sador to Botswana went to SADC Sec­re­tar­iat in Gaborone and made it clear that the US fully sup­ports SADC stance on Le­sotho.

This is a re­it­er­a­tion of the state­ments made by the US Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho on is­sues of ac­count­abil­ity. But more omi­nously the lead­er­ship of the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) has amongst it con­di­tions for con­sid­er­ing a grant to Le­sotho in­di­cated that ac­cept­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of Phumaphi Re­port is cen­tral. Los­ing the Com­pact in or­der to pro­tect a few peo­ple to an­swer for their actions would be in­com­pre­hen­si­ble.

When SADC de­clared war on im­punity, by en­dors­ing Phumaphi’s re­port, a mes­sage should have got to the govern­ment of Le­sotho that the old ways of do­ing things are gone for good. All that has to hap­pen is de­velop an im­ple­men­ta­tion plan which, as President Nyusi in­di­cated in Ad­dis Ababa re­cently, is trans­par­ent. Le­sotho needs new ac­count­able ways of mov­ing for­ward.

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