Tha­bane wants SADC to take over army

. . . ABC leader wants SADC to as­sume con­trol of the army and po­lice dur­ing re­form process

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

EXILED All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC)C) leader Thomas Tha­bane has called on the e South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) to “take com­mand” of the Le­sotho armymy and po­lice while the coun­try em­barks on “rad­i­cal and in­clu­sive” po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity re­forms.eforms.

Dr Tha­bane also says a body com­pris­ing mpris­ing “all key stake­hold­ers” should lead the re­form process for Le­sotho to have last­ing peaceace and sta­bil­ity.

Ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence at hiss refuge in Ficks­burg, South Africa on Sun­day,day, the ABC leader fur­ther said the “dan­ger­ousus re­la­tion­ship be­tween gov­ern­ment and the he Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) must be elim­i­nat­ed­mi­nated and SADC must take com­mand of the he army and po­lice” to en­sure “a level play­ingng field” in the es­tab­lish­ment of this or­ga­ni­za­tion ion and dur­ing the re­form process.

Dr Tha­bane, who fled Le­sotho in May last year amid al­le­ga­tions some LDF mem­bers were plot­ting to kill him, fur­ther said thehe body should be sim­i­lar to the 1998 In­terim Po­lit­i­cal Author­ity (IPA) which in­tro­duced the Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) elec­toral model.

The IPA was es­tab­lished by an Act of Par­lia­ment and com­prised two rep­re­sen­ta­tives­nta­tives from all po­lit­i­cal par­ties which con­test­ed­sted the 1998 gen­eral elections.

Dr Tha­bane added all key stake­hold­er­se­hold­ers should be in­volved in the re­forms to en­sure their ac­cep­tance by the peo­ple.

The ABC leader, who was speak­ingg in the pres­ence of the party’s deputy lead­erer Tlali Khasu, chair­per­son Mot­lohi Maliehe,, sec­re­tary gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele and d Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, em­pha­sised the need to en­sure the re­forms are “in­clu­sive”.

“What is key is that the coun­try must un­dergo rad­i­cal and in­clu­sive con­sti­tu­tional,utional, po­lit­i­cal, pub­lic ser­vice and se­cu­ri­tyy sec­tor re­forms, which should be iden­ti­fied, de­cided and for­mu­lated jointly by all Le­sothoo stake­hold­ers,” Dr Tha­bane said.

“For cred­i­ble re­forms to take place,ace, the ABC stand is as fol­lows: the gov­ern­men­trn­ment should es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent re­formrm process sim­i­lar to the In­de­pen­dent Po­lit­i­cal­i­cal Author­ity de­ployed fol­low­ing the 1998 po­lit­i­cal con­flict, and con­sist­ing of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties and civil so­ci­ety and as­sisted by SADCDC and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­at­ing part­ners, in­clud­ingn­clud­ing the Com­mon­wealth. Such a body should ould be op­er­a­tional as soon as pos­si­ble;

“SADC should serve as an over­seer and fa­cil­i­ta­tor and ap­point a per­ma­nent en­voy nvoy for the du­ra­tion of the di­a­logue on re­forms;ms;

“The wider in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,ty, par­tic­u­larly, African Union, United Na­tions ons and Com­mon­wealth should provide sup­port rt and;

“Re­form pro­pos­als by the Com­mon­wealth­n­wealth (the New Zealand re­forms) and SADCC (Con­sti­tu­tional and In­sti­tu­tional Re­forms) should form the ba­sis from which to work.”

Dr Tha­bane also said there is needd to end what he called a “dan­ger­ous” re­la­tion­ship tion­ship be­tween the army and gov­ern­ment iff the re­forms are to ma­te­ri­alise.

“To pre­pare a level play­ing field for the con­sul­ta­tion, the dan­ger­ous re­la­tion­ship be­tween gov­ern­ment and the armed forces should ould be elim­i­nated.

“A tem­po­rary SADC com­mand of the he LDF and to a lesser ex­tent, the po­lice, will ll be re­quired to cul­ti­vate a con­ducive cli­ma­tee for the re­form con­sul­ta­tion.

“In par­al­lel, all those re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der in June 2015 of former armymy com­man­der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, should ould be charged and pros­e­cuted un­der a cred­i­ble­ble ju­di­cial process,” said Dr Tha­bane.

The re­forms, he added, would en­surere Le­sotho func­tions prop­erly un­der a coali­tion ion gov­ern­ment.

Dr Tha­bane led Le­sotho’s first coali­tion gov­ern­ment when his ABC en­tered into an al­liance with the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) af­ter the 2012 gen­eral elections had re­sulted in a hung par­lia­ment. How­ever, the gov­ern­ment col­lapsed due to per­sis­tent squab­bles be­tween Dr Tha­bane and LCD leader and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, lead­ing to an early elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

“The first coali­tion gov­ern­ment col­lapsed due to lack of readi­ness by po­lit­i­cal par­ties to man­age coali­tions un­der a Mixed Mem­ber Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion model,” Dr Tha­bane ex­plained.

“Le­sotho es­tab­lished its first coali­tion gov­ern­ment with­out the req­ui­site le­gal in­stru- ments a n d prac­tices. First, the con­sti­tu­tion and other laws fell short on sev­eral fronts, in­clud­ing clar­i­fy­ing the roles of key po­si­tions when power is shared be­tween po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“Second, in­sti­tu­tions for form­ing and run­ning gov­ern­ment also lacked the ca­pac­ity re­quired to sup­port and over­see an ex­ec­u­tive com­pris­ing sev­eral par­ties.

“Le­sotho’s democ­racy also seemed to lack ba­sic el­e­ments of democ­racy such as seg­re­ga­tion and sovereignty of power and the prin­ci­ple of checks and bal­ances.”

Dr Tha­bane also noted the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the army and po­lit­i­cal par­ties had “un­der­mined” the coun­try’s democ­racy since in­de­pen­dence in 1966.

“Fre­quent align­ments be­tween se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ments and po­lit­i­cal par­ties have un­der­mined our democ­racy for the last 50 years,” he said.

“Politi­cians are able to lever­age po­lit­i­cal power through align­ments with of­fi­cers of the army, who can then mount an in­tim­i­da­tion cam­paign through­out the elec­tion pe­riod and en­cour­age in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour.

“Re­forms should be un­der­taken to sever any possibilities of such align­ments be­tween po­lit­i­cal par­ties and se­cu­rity forces.” He also said the ABC pro­poses the re­forms should safe­guard the PR sys­tem from abuse, as well as Se­nate seats. “Pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion and Se­nate seats are in­creas­ingly be­ing used by par­ties form­ing gov­ern­ment to re­ward mem­bers who have lost elections or have played sig­nif­i­cant roles to un­der­mine sit­ting gov­ern­ments,” the ABC leader said. “The 11 seats in the Up­per House have been used tra­di­tion­ally to bring ex­perts into gov­ern­ment. “How­ever, in re­cent times, they are in­creas­ingly be­ing used to re­ward politi­cians who have lost their seats. “When vot­ers ex­press choice, but the choice is sub­verted by the party lead­er­ship in bring­ing into par­lia­ment and gov­ern­ment, politi­cians who com­peted and lost seats, it un­der­mines and weak­ens democ­racy. “The re­cent al­lo­ca­tion of Se­nate seats points to the need to re­view the ar­chi­tec­ture of the Up­per House. Per­haps it is time for po­lit­i­cal par­ties to field ad­e­quate pro­fes­sion­als to sup­port a pro­fes­sional gov­ern­ment and for the Se­nate or party to be elected,” said Tha­bane. He also noted Le­sotho had been “ush­ered into an era where pop­u­lar votes are dis­torted by small par­ties that be­come king­mak­ers” of coal coali­tion gov­ern­ments.

“L “Le­sotho’s elec­toral model, while com­pen­sati sat­ing for pop­u­lar vote per­for­mance, has intr in­tro­duced new dis­tor­tions that un­der­mine dem democ­racy.

“D “Deep per­sonal mis­trusts have en­sured that large par­ties can­not come to­gether to form gov­ern­ment.

“I “In­stead, smaller par­ties have be­come king king­mak­ers that hold large par­ties to ransom som, dic­tat­ing be­yond their vote tal­lies how gove gov­ern­ments should be es­tab­lished and run, and all the time threat­en­ing to scut­tle the gove gov­ern­ment of the day.

“T “This con­trived for­ma­tions is in­con­sis­tent with the will of the peo­ple. It is re­gret­tably due to past po­lit­i­cal re­forms that have not trul truly gone to the heart of en­trench­ing proper dem democ­racy.”

H He also said the coun­try had not ben­e­fit­ted from nu­mer­ous pre­vi­ous do­mes­tic and in­ter­nati na­tional ef­forts to es­tab­lish last­ing peace and need needs to en­sure the cur­rent in­ter­ven­tion is ef­fec ef­fec­tive.

“E “Each it­er­a­tion of me­di­a­tion has calmed the curr cur­rent con­flict, but failed to ad­dress the un­derl der­ly­ing causes for the on­go­ing con­flict. The sam same board themes have emerged in each roun round of con­flict, namely de­lib­er­ate politi­cisati sa­tion of the Le­sotho De­fence Force and the broa broader pub­lic ser­vice; po­lar­i­sa­tion of so­ci­ety on p po­lit­i­cal lines with con­flict over­tones and the ab­sence of po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment to nec­es­sary re­forms and last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity,” said Dr Tha­bane.

H He fur­ther said the crit­i­cal chal­lenge fac­ing the coun­try was how to re­store mu­tual trust amo among po­lit­i­cal ac­tors and im­ple­ment the re­quir quired re­forms.

“T “There is ur­gent need for po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to rest re­store mu­tual trust amongst their fol­low­ers and pro­mote a cul­ture of tol­er­ance and com­mon in­ter­ests of Ba­sotho ahead of par­ti­san inte in­ter­ests.

“R “Rev­ers­ing po­lar­i­sa­tion and seek­ing reconci on­cil­i­a­tion will pave the way for se­cu­rity and parl par­lia­men­tary re­forms within a frame­work of polit po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, trusts and na­tional unity, good gov­er­nance and ac­cel­er­ated eco­nomic and so­cial growth trans­for­ma­tion and re­spect for t the rule of law and hu­man rights,” said Dr Tha Tha­bane.

C Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, the Prim Prime Min­is­ter’s spokesper­son Mo­tumi Rale Rale­joe said: “SADC is a re­gional in­sti­tu­tion foun founded by gov­ern­ments and works with gov­ernm ern­ments.

“I “It should be clear that SADC has given our gove gov­ern­ment time to show how it is go­ing to add ad­dress the re­forms is­sues.

“I “It is only fair for gov­ern­ment to be given spac space to ad­dress the rec­om­men­da­tions. And gove gov­ern­ment will re­port to the SADC sum­mit to be held in Swazi­land in Au­gust what it ha has achieved. The op­po­si­tion should go be­fore par­lia­ment as it is a na­tional plat­form for t them to ad­dress any po­lit­i­cal is­sues they might have.

“It’s also important that so­ci­ety should ac­cept this is a demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment of the day and the buck stops with this gov­ern­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment’s role it to pre­pare a re­port on the rec­om­men­da­tions and sub­mit progress achieved to the SADC sum­mit.

“How­ever, it’s dis­turb­ing and ill-ad­vised and thoughts not meant to pro­mote peace but only di­vi­sions within so­ci­ety to sug­gest our se­cu­rity agen­cies should be com­manded by SADC.

“This gov­ern­ment can run its own af­fairs com­pe­tently. Sug­ges­tions that SADC should take over the com­mand of the po­lice and the army are friv­o­lous and a non­starter”.

ABC leader thomas tha­bane

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