ABC pledges sup­port for stay-away

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

THE main op­po­si­tion All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) has pledged sup­port for next month’s stay-away or­gan­ised by ‘Con­cerned Non­State Actors’ to pres­sure gov­ern­ment into im­ple­ment­ing the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry rec­om­men­da­tions.

The stay-away is set for 12 May and among the or­gan­is­ers are Maseru Re­gion Taxi Op­er­a­tors, Le­sotho Coun­cil of Non-gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions, trade unions Lentsoe la Sech­aba, In­de­pen­dent Demo­cratic Union of Le­sotho, Na­tional Cloth­ing Tex­tile and Al­lied Work­ers Union, and United Tex­tile Em­ploy­ees, as well as the Le­sotho Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try.

The or­gan­is­ers would also sub­mit a list of their griev­ances to the gov­ern­ment per­tain­ing to the rec­om­men­da­tions made by a 10-mem­ber team com­mis­sioned by the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (SADC) to probe the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao was killed on 25 June 2015 out­side Maseru by his mil­i­tary col­leagues al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny.

Among the rec­om­men­da­tions was the dis­missal of army com­man­der Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli “in the in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and acceptance of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) to the Ba­sotho na­tion”, and the sus­pen­sion of all LDF of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der and trea­son while in­ves­ti­ga­tions into their cases pro­ceed “in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice”.

The Com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended gov­ern­ment should en­sure crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of Lt-gen Ma­hao are pur­sued “vig­or­ously” and that the po­lice are em­pow­ered and re­sourced ac­cord­ingly for the task. The in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the Com­mis­sion added, should be con­ducted “ex­pe­di­tiously and com­pre­hen­sively with­out any hin­drance and that all phys­i­cal ev­i­dence be sur­ren­dered and the fi­nal­ity of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions should lead to a trans­par­ent course of jus­tice”.

The Com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended that gov­ern­ment should en­sure the safe re­turn of op­po­si­tion lead­ers who have been liv­ing in ex­ile in South Africa since May 2015.

ABC sec­re­tary gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele this week said his party wel­comed the planned stay-away.

“We were ap­proached by those or­gan­i­sa­tions and we sup­port their stance,” Mr Nt­sekele said.

“Th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions are ag­grieved by the same is­sues we have al­ways raised as an op­po­si­tion party. It’s un­for­tu­nate that gov­ern­ment has al­ways turned a blind eye to our griev­ances.

“We have now reached a point where all sec­tions of so­ci­ety are stand­ing with us on our griev­ances. Now that they are tak­ing this step to pres­sure gov­ern­ment, we to­tally sup­port them,” said Mr Nt­sekele.

He said de­spite gov­ern­ment de­nials, the ABC and its op­po­si­tion al­lies — the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party and Reformed Congress of Le­sotho — con­tend there is a se­cu­rity cri­sis in Le­sotho.

“Gen­eral Ma­hao who we re­garded as the right­ful army com­man­der was as­sas­si­nated. We also saw sol­diers en­ter­ing the High Court premises with their faces cov­ered with bal­a­clavas. And when sol­diers ar­rested and tor­tured their col­leagues, even the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion re­alised this was not a nor­mal sit­u­a­tion.

“Some sol­diers con­tinue to be in de­ten­tion de­spite or­ders for their re­lease from the high­est courts in the coun­try.

“Our lead­ers also com­plained about the sit­u­a­tion and they were forced to flee the coun­try. Their lives were in dan­ger and this prompted the es­tab­lish­ment of the SADC com­mis­sion of in­quiry,” he said.

“The rec­om­men­da­tions are in­tended to achieve sta­bil­ity in the coun­try. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has also pro­nounced it­self and de­manded that the rec­om­men­da­tions be im­ple­mented. We have the United States, the Euro­pean Union, the United Na­tions and the African Union all call­ing for the im­ple­men­ta­tion. What’s the gov­ern­ment’s prob­lem when ev­ery­body is say­ing the same thing?”

Mr Nt­sekele warned of job losses among other far-reach­ing con­se­quences should the gov­ern­ment refuse to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions as in­vestors might then de­cide to give Le­sotho a wide berth.

“Many peo­ple will lose their jobs. Our ca­pac­ity to gen­er­ate wealth is re­stricted. Our gov­ern­ment is fail­ing to do any­thing that cre­ates wealth and no one wants to in­vest in our coun­try due to the un­cer­tain po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Nt­sekele said.

“Our econ­omy has been an­chored on the US mar­kets we ac­cess through AGO (African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act) as well as the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion fund­ing for devel­op­ment projects.

“We have to com­ply with AGOA’S se­lec­tion cri­te­ria to re­main el­i­gi­ble or else there will be trou­ble. Al­ready or­ders for our tex­tile prod­ucts from US com­pa­nies are de­clin­ing and many work­ers have been laid off or put on short-time,” he said.

He also said the mul­ti­plier-ef­fects of the loss of the US mar­kets through AGOA could re­sult in fur­ther losses at the South­ern African Cus­toms Union (SACU) level.

“Los­ing those mar­kets would mean that we have no ca­pac­ity to even con­tinue trad­ing with re­gional coun­tries. So there will be big prob­lems if the gov­ern­ment does not com­ply,” he said.

ABC supp­pot­ers at a rally in this file pic­ture.

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