SADC angers op­po­si­tion

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

ALL Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) sec­re­tary general, Sa­monyane Ntsekele, has slammed the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) for “tol­er­at­ing gov­ern­ment’s de­lay­ing tac­tics” in im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Phumaphi-led Com­mis­sion of In­quiry.

Mr Ntsekele yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that the op­po­si­tion al­liance had hoped to tell SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Lawrence Ster­gom­ena Tax, about “this frus­tra­tion” dur­ing her visit to Maseru this week.

How­ever, Dr Tax did not meet the al­liance com­pris­ing the ABC, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL), but en­gaged Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, his deputy Mo­thetjoa Metsing and some cab­i­net mem­bers to dis­cuss progress made in im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions, as well as re­gional devel­op­ment is­sues.

Mr Ntsekele said fail­ure by Dr Tax to meet with mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion had de­nied them an op­por­tu­nity to voice their ir con­cerns re­gard­ing gov­ern­ment’s “de­lay” in im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions madeade by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi and his 10-mem­ber Com­mis­sion of In­quiry es­tab­lisheded af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing, by his col­leagues,, of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao on 25 June 2015 in Mokema.

Among the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­c­om­men­da­tions was a re­view of the coun­try’s’s con­sti­tu­tion, the re­moval of army com­man­der an­der Lieu­tenant-general Tlali Kamoli “in thehe in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and ac­cep­tance of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) to the Ba­sotho na­tion”, and that gov­ern­ment should en­sure the safe re­turn of op­po­si­tion lead­ers who fled to South Africa in May last year say­ing they feared for their lives. The Com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended that crim­im­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of Lt-gen Ma­hao should be pur­sued d “vig­or­ously”.

“As the op­po­si­tion, our hopes had been very high that we were go­ing to meet Dr Tax and tell her of our frus­tra­tions about gov­ern­ment’s de­lay­ing tac­tics in im­ple­ment­ing the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

“It was even more frus­trat­ing to learn that she was leav­ing the coun­try with­out meet­ing the op­po­si­tion. What this ba­si­cally means is she had not come to hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count and make sure it fol­lows the time­line set out by SADC re­gard­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“En­gag­ing the gov­ern­ment this way is un­fair and al­lows them to buy time when jus­tice should not be de­layed for the fam­ily of General Ma­hao, and many oth­ers cov­ered by these rec­om­men­da­tions,” said Mr Ntsekele.

The op­po­si­tion, he added, had not changed its stance that Lt-gen Kamoli should be fired so that the ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers could re­turn to Le­sotho.

ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane, his BNP and RCL coun­ter­parts The­sele ‘ Maserib­ane and Keketso Rantšo re­spec­tively have vowed not to re­turn from South Africa un­til Lt-gen Kamoli has been fired.

“The op­po­si­tion has not changed its po­si­tion con­cern­ing Kamoli, and his re­moval was one of the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Phumaphi com­mis­sion.

“But SADC is not putting pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment so that these rec­om­men­da­tions can be im­ple­mented and this coun­try move for­ward.

“This is tan­ta­mount to fail­ing Ba­sotho who had pinned their hopes on the re­gional body putting pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing the Phumaphi rec­om­men­da­tions.

“Devel­op­ment part­ners, es­pe­cially the United Na­tions, the United States of Amer­ica and the Euro­pean Union, have since ap­pealed to the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions but we are sur­prised that SADC is al­low­ing these de­lay­ing tac­tics to con­tinue.

“Dr Tax came here, and met with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and the ques­tion is why didn’t she also meet mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion?” asked Mr Ntsekele.

“We re­alise now that her visit was just a smoke­screen meant to calm us down and make us think that SADC is do­ing some­thing about this is­sue when there is noth­ing hap­pen­ing. This gov­ern­ment wants to get to Au­gust when SADC holds its next sum­mit and ap­points a new leader, with­out hav­ing im­ple­mented any­thing mean­ing­ful. They want a new SADC chair­per­son to take over from Pres­i­dent Ian Khama of Botswana, who has been tough on Le­sotho. That’s why they are hav­ing these de­lay­ing tac­tics just to buy time and we get to Au­gust.”

Mr Ntsekele also said the re­cent shoot­ings and killings in Maseru are an in­di­ca­tion that there is no sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho.

“These killings show that some­thing needs to be done as a mat­ter of ur­gency to re­store sta­bil­ity to the coun­try, and SADC is not help­ing us achieve this,” he said.

Mean­while, Dr Tax yes­ter­day said she had en­gaged gov­ern­ment on the Phumaphi rec­om­men­da­tions and that SADC ex­pected a de­tailed re­port next month on progress made re­gard­ing their im­ple­men­ta­tion.

SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Lawrence Ster­gom­ena Tax

ABC sec­re­tary general Sa­monyane ntsekele.

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