Con­ver­sa­tions with par­rots

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Prof Mafa M Se­jana­mane

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.

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