Govt re­as­sures SADC

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

THE gov­ern­ment is next month ex­pected to write “a de­tailed re­port” on the progress it has made in im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions made by the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

This is ac­cord­ing to SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Lawrence Ster­gom­ena Tax, (pic­tured) who was in Maseru this week to meet Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili on the rec­om­men­da­tions, as well as dis­cuss re­gional devel­op­ment is­sues.

Dr Tax also met Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Metsing, and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane “and other min­is­ters” dur­ing her visit and yes­ter­day said the gov­ern­ment had re­as­sured SADC of its com­mit­ment to im­ple­ment the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

The gov­ern­ment, she added, had pointed out sev­eral ac­tiv­i­ties it had un­der­taken to con­firm this com­mit­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment has made a com­mit­ment to fur­nish SADC, dur­ing the course of April, with a de­tailed writ­ten re­port of the progress it has made so far re­gard­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions. The gov­ern­ment gave its as­sur­ance and said a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties are on­go­ing re­gard­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions and that progress has been recorded in cer­tain ar­eas,” Dr Tax told re­porters dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held at Moshoeshoe I In­ter­na­tional Air­port at the con­clu­sion of her one-day visit.

She high­lighted some of the progress the gov­ern­ment had achieved re­gard­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions. Among oth­ers, the Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended a re­view of the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion, the re­moval of army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-general Tlali Kamoli “in the in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and ac­cep­tance of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) to the Ba­sotho na­tion”, gov­ern­ment en­sures crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of for­mer army com­man­der Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao be pur­sued vig­or­ously and that the police are em­pow­ered and re­sourced ac­cord­ingly. The Com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended that the gov­ern­ment should en­sure thee safe re­turn of op­po­si­tion lead­ers who fled to South Africa in May lastt year af­ter claim­ing some mem­bers rs of the LDF were plot­ting to kill them. em. The army has since re­jected these se claims.

Dr Tax said she he had been re­as­sured by the gov­ern­mentern­ment that work had al­ready started rted to en­sure the rec­om­men­da­tions s were im­ple­mented.

“For in­stance, as far as con­sti­tu­tional re­forms arere con­cerned, the gov­ern­ment be­lievesieves any­time from now, it t would be sub­mit­ting a clear roadmap to SADC ADC show­ing ex­actly tly what would bee done and when,” she said.

Dr Tax also said the c o mmit­ment shown by the g o v e r n ment was “re­as­sur­ing”.

Asked about SADC’S view over the prime min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion to ex­punge some names from the Com­mis­sion’s re­port, Dr Tax said: “That is a very tech­ni­cal is­sue that the King­dom of Le­sotho ex­plained. That ex­pla­na­tion is out there, that they re­moved cer­tain names be­cause of cer­tain le­gal tech­ni­cal­i­ties.”

Dr Tax also said the is­sue had been re­ferred to the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, adding: “Once con­sul­ta­tions with the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry are fi­nalised, we will be in a po­si­tion to say if the ex­punged re­port should re­main as it is or cer­tain el­e­ments that have been re­moved should be part of the re­port.”

On the re­turn of All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader Thomas Tha­bane, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader The­sele ‘ Maserib­ane and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) leader Ketso Rantšo who have been liv­ing in ex­ile in South Africa since May 2015, Dr Tax said the mat­ter was be­ing at­tended to by the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers.

“Their re­turn is among the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions and sev­eral meet­ings have taken place re­gard­ing this is­sue. Of­fers have been ex­changed and dis­cus­sions have taken place. There are a few is­sues that need to be fi­nalised which have al­ready been agreed upon.

“Over and above what they have been of­fered by the King­dom of Le­sotho to have se­cu­rity from the police, the op­po­si­tion lead­ers have also re­quested backup se­cu­rity from SADC. That is an­other is­sue that is un­der con­sul­ta­tion and con­sid­er­a­tion.

“To have ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity forces en­ter a coun­try is not some­thing done just like that. There are le­gal pro­vi­sions that need to be ob­served. So those con­sul­ta­tions are on­go­ing and when they are fi­nal­ized, they would de­ter­mine the right way to take,” she said.

How­ever, Dr TaxTa em­pha­sised what was im­por­tant was not SADC se­cu­rity for the opp op­po­si­tion lead­ers but their safety once they are back home.

“If that at­mo­sph at­mos­phere is cre­ated and these two part par­ties, the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho an and those who are in ex­ile, come to an agree­ment, I be­lie be­lieve they would come back as they wa want to re­turn h home,” said Dr Tax, adding dis­agree­ments over the safety of op­po­si­tion lead­ers was not unique to Le­sotho.

Dr Tax also said Le­sotho needed “con­fi­dence­build­ing” be­tween the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion.

“Na­tional unity and con­fi­dence-build­ing are para­mount be­cause the op­po­si­tion lead­ers can come but if there is no trust, the situation will re­main volatile. Any­body can then take ad­van­tage of that volatile situation,” she said.

Asked if the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions were bind­ing on the gov­ern­ment, Dr Tax said this ques­tion could only be an­swered af­ter gov­ern­ment’s has sub­mit­ted its progress re­port to the re­gional body.

“Let’s wait un­til we get the progress re­port in April from the gov­ern­ment be­cause we can­not talk from a uni­formed po­si­tion.

“There was a re­port by a Com­mis­sion sent to the King­dom of Le­sotho based on the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho’s re­quest. Its rec­om­men­da­tions are there and we be­lieve since the re­quest came from the King­dom of Le­sotho, the rec­om­men­da­tions would be ac­cepted but we have to wait and hear what the gov­ern­ment would be say­ing in its progress re­port.

“As I have said, these are tech­ni­cal mat­ters and we have two le­gal re­quire­ments. On the one hand Le­sotho has a con­sti­tu­tion as a sovereign state and on the other, Le­sotho is a mem­ber of SADC and has an obli­ga­tion of un­der­stand­ing its obli­ga­tion as a mem­ber of SADC,” said Dr Tax.

Dr Tax also noted that SADC’S time­frame re­gard­ing the Com­mis­sion were clear but could be changed.

“For the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions, the time­frame is very clear. The over­all re­port was to be sub­mit­ted on 1 Au­gust 2016 but since the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s re­port was tabled on 8 Fe­bru­ary 2016, we said let the rec­om­men­da­tions be im­ple­mented and a progress re­port sub­mit­ted.”

Con­tacted for com­ment on the is­sue, the Prime Min­is­ter’s spokesper­son, Mo­tumi Rale­joe said all he could say was that the gov­ern­ment would be work­ing closely with SADC on the mat­ter.

“Con­stant con­sul­ta­tion on any is­sues that need fur­ther clar­ity will be the way the gov­ern­ment and SADC will op­er­ate,” said Mr Rele­joe.

“The gov­ern­ment has also made a com­mit­ment to keep SADC in­formed about de­vel­op­ments in im­ple­ment­ing the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The two par­ties have agreed to keep each other up­dated so that they can clear any mis­con­cep­tions. The gov­ern­ment un­der­stands that the SADC sum­mit time in Au­gust is a clear time­frame to re­port progress on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“As for the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion, they are in con­stant talks and the lat­est devel­op­ment is that there was a meet­ing held at the res­i­dence of Ro­man Catholic Church Arch­bishop Lerotholi last week.”

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