Govt to pick and choose from re­port: PM

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Writer

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili has re­it­er­ated that the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions were not bind­ing on the govern­ment, adding that they would im­ple­ment some of them and dis­card oth­ers. Ad­dress­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly this week, Dr Mo­sisili said the govern­ment would soon study the 62-page re­port to as­sess which rec­om­men­da­tions are im­ple­mentable.

“As Govern­ment, we will go about the process of study­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions and de­cid­ing which of them are im­ple­mentable in the short, medium and long-term with­out prej­u­dic­ing the in­ter­ests of the na­tion,” he said.

“A mere glance at some of the rec­om­men­da­tions in­di­cates that they are im­ple­mentable im­me­di­ately, whereas oth­ers will take time, and still oth­ers may not see the light of day. One thing I can read­ily as­sure the House and through it the gen­eral pub­lic, is that all the rec­om­men­da­tions will get the at­ten­tion they de­serve as rec­om­men­da­tions and NOT bind­ing or­ders.”

Dr Mo­sisili said the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry was con­vene­donvened at his re­quest to the re­gional bloc fol­lowingol­low­ing the killing of for­mer army com­man­der,der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, at the hands off his mil­i­tary col­leagues. Lt-gen Ma­hao died on 25 June 2015 out­side his Moke­makema farm, with the Le­sotho De­fencece Force claim­ing he was re­sist­ing ar­restr­rest for al­leged mutiny when he wasas fa­tally shot.

“The sud­den and un­timely demise of Bri­gadier Ma­hao in the said cir­cum­stances wass not only ex­tremely tragic and re­gret­table,egret­table, but most em­bar­rass­ings­ing to His Majesty’s Govern­ment.vern­ment. It was most painfu­lain­ful to the fam­ily and to those who knew andd loved that young of­fi­cercer who had so much promis­eromise and po­ten­tial too serve our coun­try,” thehe premier said.

“As His Majesty’sjesty’s govern­ment, we im­me­di­ately but de­lib­er­ately re­solved to set up a Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the cir­cum­stances that pre­cip­i­tated that loss of a pre­cious life. We ap­proached SADC to help us es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the death of Bri­gadier Ma­hao.

“We sought SADC’S as­sis­tance, not be­cause we could not set up the com­mis­sion by our­selves. NOT at all! In­stead, we sought SADC’S as­sis­tance be­cause we were de­ter­mined that the Com­mis­sion should be as in­de­pen­dent as pos­si­ble, and that the in­quiry should be as im­par­tial, trans­par­ent and thor­ough as pos­si­ble, be­ing con­ducted by out­siders who could be ex­pected to be as non-par­ti­san, ob­jec­tive, pro­fes­sional and apo­lit­i­cal as pos­si­ble. SADC obliged and dis­patched a team led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of the High Court of Botswana.”

Dr Mo­sisili said the op­er­a­tion to ap­pre­hend Lt-gen Ma­hao had a con­text which should not be ig­nored.

“In all hon­esty, and with­out mal­ice to any­body, we felt, and still feel that the tragic loss of Bri­gadier Maa­parankoe Ma­hao’s life on the 25th June 2015 did not just oc­cur out of the blue. That it had a con­text that sho should not be ig­nored or over­looked,” he said.

The premier chided the SADC Co Com­mis­sion of In­quiry for not prob­ing the events of Au­gust 2014, which saw LDF mem­bers at­tack­ing Maseru Cen­tral Po­lice Sta­tio Sta­tion, Mabote Po­lice Sta­tion and Po­lice Hea Head­quar­ters. Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko was shot dead dur­ing the at­tack on Po­lice Head­quar­ters in what the army said was a spe­cial op­er­a­tion.ope

“One of the is­sues that Go Govern­ment had wanted the Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate was the LDF op op­er­a­tion of 30 Au­gust 2014 at some Po­lice sta­tions in tow town, and at which the life of one SubIn­spec­tor Ram Ramahloko of the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Serv Ser­vice was trag­i­cally los lost,” said Dr Mo­sisili. ““Strangely, the P Phumaphi Com­mis Com­mis­sion and SADC did not deem this in­ci­dent wor­thy of in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­spite ram­pant claims that it had been a coup at­tempt.

“It was, in­ci­den­tally, that same episode that had prompted Prime Min­is­ter Tom Tha­bane, as he then was, to flee into South Africa and only re­turn home un­der South African po­lice guard! Yet lo and be­hold: the Com­mis­sion does not only make sev­eral cur­sory ref­er­ences to this episode but makes find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions thereon!”

In­stead of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Au­gust 2014 in­ci­dent, the premier charged, the com­mis­sion “fell into the mis­take” of mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on al­leged of­fences whose com­mis­sion pre­dates the in­ci­dents which it was man­dated to in­ves­ti­gate.

“For ex­am­ple, some of th­ese of­fences re­late to the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, long be­fore the time to which the au­tho­rised terms re­late,” he said.

“The of­fences are sup­posed to have been com­mit­ted at var­i­ous places in Le­sotho (Mafeteng, Morija, Mokhot­long, etc). They range from mur­der to sex­ual of­fences. It is not ap­par­ent what they have to do with the five au­tho­rised terms of ref­er­ence. But there is even a more se­ri­ous con­cern; hav­ing dealt with wholly ex­tra­ne­ous is­sues to its man­date, the Com­mis­sion made find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions based thereon.”

Dr Mo­sisili said the re­port had some omis­sions which SADC had since ac­knowl­edged.

“To­wards the end of the re­port, the Com­mis­sion at­taches or ap­pends a num­ber of an­nex­ures. It be­hoves me to com­ment on two of th­ese. The first one that at­tracts at­ten­tion be­cause of its im­por­tance and cen­tral­ity to the man­date of the Com­mis­sion is AN­NEX­URE 5 ti­tled ‘Bal­lis­tic Re­port’,” he said.

“Go­ing through this an­nex­ure metic­u­lously, I made the sad dis­cov­ery that page 19 thereof is miss­ing. Log­i­cally, that page should re­flect pho­tos 29 and 30 of the Bal­lis­tic Re­port, be­cause page 18 con­sists of Pho­tos 27 and 28, whereas page 20 dis­plays Pho­tos 31 and 32.

“Upon this dis­turb­ing dis­cov­ery, I im­me­di­ately con­tacted the Honourable At­tor­ney­Gen­eral (Tšokolo Makhethe) who has cus­tody of the orig­i­nal copy of the re­port to as­cer­tain where the omis­sion of page 19 oc­curred. I also in­structed the Honourable Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs (Tlo­hang Sekhamane) to take the mat­ter up with the Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary of SADC (Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax).

“The SADC Sec­re­tar­iat has now writ­ten to con­firm that the re­port of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry for­mally handed over to the King­dom of Le­sotho is miss­ing page 19 in AN­NEX­URE 5. They go on to in­di­cate that they are in the process of con­tact­ing the Head of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry in or­der to clar­ify the mat­ter.”

The prime min­is­ter said he had “no op­tion” but to re­move the names of peo­ple who were men­tioned in the re­port but whose cases had noth­ing to do with its terms of ref­er­ence.

“The ex­pung­ing ex­er­cise has af­fected names of in­di­vid­u­als against whom a rec­om­men­da­tion that they be charged re­lates to a se­ries of crim­i­nal of­fences al­leged to have been com­mit­ted at dif­fer­ent places across the length and breadth of the coun­try,” he said.

“Sig­nif­i­cantly, most of them hap­pened be­fore the oc­cur­rence of the five in­ci­dents which the Com­mis­sion was man­dated to in­ves­ti­gate. The sus­pected of­fences range from mur­der to sex­ual of­fences.

“How rec­om­men­da­tions came to be made against in­di­vid­u­als in re­spect of of­fences which oc­curred years be­fore the hap­pen­ing of the in­ci­dents which the Com­mis­sion was man­dated to in­ves­ti­gate, is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. I con­sid­ered that to have pub­lished their names in such cir­cum­stances would vi­o­late their right to be treated in a fair man­ner.”

Con­clud­ing his re­marks, Dr Mo­sisili said the re­port was “a good piece of work” which would as­sist the govern­ment “in more ways than one”.

“De­spite the short­com­ings iden­ti­fied in the re­port, which are es­sen­tially pro­ce­dural in na­ture, and re­late to its fair­ness, the re­port is, over­all, a good piece of work, which we be­lieve will help us in more ways than one,” he said.

“We also be­lieve that the Com­mis­sion made its rec­om­men­da­tions bear­ing in mind the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple of Le­sotho, as op­posed to the in­ter­ests of a few in­di­vid­u­als; as no in­di­vid­ual per­son can con­ceiv­ably be more im­por­tant than the in­ter­ests of the na­tion.”

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

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