Conversations with parrots
LESOTHO’S politics in recent times has been dominated by the Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi-led Commission of Inquiry report. The report, which was commissioned by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after the horrendous developments of the detention of scores of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members; exile of other soldiers and all opposition political leaders; as well as the murder of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao by members of the LDF, has set the tone for politics in Lesotho. The report sets out certain accountability standards which the Lesotho government is unwillingly being forced to adhere to.
The Phumaphi Commission, as already pointed out in earlier articles, investigated the roots of instability in Lesotho in general, and the murder of Lt-gen Mahao in particular. Amongst the key issues which the Commission recommended are the following:
1.a) Removal of Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli as commander of the LDF;
2.b) Suspension of all those officers in the LDF suspected of involvement in high treason and other cases of murder, while their cases are being further investigated;
3.c) All physical evidence held by the LDF in criminal cases including that of the murder of Lt-gen Mahao be surrendered to the police who should be capacitated.
These recommendations are straight forward, but from the beginning, observers could see that the government would find it difficult to implement them since it meant that it is being pushed to separate itself from allies who have been identified as the key cogs in making Lesotho ungovernable and using the army as a refuge for committing crimes. The report identifies several cases ranging from high treason to murder for well over 20 of the most senior officers in the LDF.
It has been the central message of this article that accountability and rule of law are no longer optional in view of the broad international consensus that those standards should be national norms.
A contrary perspective has been put forth by Lesotho government propagandists that adherence to those norms is a matter of choice. Thus, some have made hay of the fact that Lesotho is a sovereign state with the ability to make its decisions independently.
At the beginning the argument ran this blandly, but as more developments took place whereby their case became ever more tenuous, they began to steer clear of the central issues, but viciously attacked anybody who argues that the only open route is the one in the SADC decision of January 2016.
In the recent past however, key Lesotho international partners have had their say on the direction they would expect if Leso- tho were to avoid internationalional isolation and probably worse consequences.ces.
We have had the withdrawaldrawal of budget support by the European Union because of accountability issues. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has recently suspended consideration of a new multi-million dollar compact to the country try because of concerns about accountabilityy and rule of law. Again, the United States has now indicated that Lesotho’s 2017 eligibility bility for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will be dependent on the implementationmentation of the Phumaphi Report recomcommendations.
These recommendations ns are about accountability y and the rule of law. In a country which operates within the law, these should not be a matter of debate. But they have become central in discussions in Lesotho with those allied to the government attempting to minimise the impact of SADC decisions on those recommendations.
When denial is idi
ocy Like Tariq Aziz, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, who denied the presence of US troops in the capital while all could see them 500 metres from where he was speaking, there continues to be a futile attempt to portray the situation in Lesotho as peaceful and stable and with the government in control of the situation. The propagandists have however not been able to explain why there has been a PhuContinues on page 14...
Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi.