. . .dec­la­ra­tion flies in the face of one of SADC com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

IN a move likely to raise the ire of the op­po­si­tion and civic groups and pos­si­bly place the govern­ment at re­newed log­ger­heads with its re­gional coun­ter­parts, the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD), a key player in the rul­ing coali­tion, has de­clared that army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli is here to stay and no amount of pres­sure would force Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s govern­ment to fire him.

Party spokesper­son Te­boho Sekata told a news con­fer­ence in Maseru that Lt-gen Kamoli would re­main head of the mil­i­tary un­til Le­sotho goes to the polls in 2020.

If ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers con­tinue in­sist­ing on Lt-gen Kamoli’s dis­missal as a pre-con­di­tion for their re­turn, then they might as well stay in South Africa for the next four years when the coun­try holds its next sched­uled gen­eral elec­tions, the bel­liger­ent Mr Sekata de­clared.

Mr Sekata’s re­marks were aimed at mak­ing cat­e­gor­i­cal to a coali­tion of civic groups due to con­vene a mass protest to­day to de­mand the speedy im­ple­men­ta­tion of rec­om­men­da­tions of a re­gional in­quiry into Leso- tho’s in­sta­bil­ity that they were just wast­ing their time. Mr Sekata ex­plic­itly con­dem con­demned the civic groups who have called for to­day’s stay­away and protest march to pr pres­sur­ize the govern­ment into “speed­ily” im­ple­ment­ing the South­ern African D De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC)( SADC) re­com rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at end­ing Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity.inst The rec­om­men­da­tions were made by a 10-mem­ber team of re­gional se­cu­rity and le­gal ex­perts af­ter prob­ing the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der M Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. Lt-gen Ma­hao was k killed on 25 June 2015 out­side Maseru by his mil­i­tary col­leagues, alle al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny. Cen­tral to the SADC In­quiry rec­om­men­da­tion­sre­com is the dis­miss dis­missal of Lt-gen Kamoli “in the in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and ac­cep­tance of the Les Le­sotho De­fence Force to the Ba­sotho na­tion”, and the sus­pen­sion of all LDF of of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in case cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­derm and trea­son while­whi in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the their cases pro­ceed “in line with in­ter­na­tional bes best prac­tice”. The Com Com­mis­sion, led by Jus­tice M Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana, also rec­om­mended govern­ment should en­sure crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of LtGen 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 the govern­ment should en­sure the safe re­turn of op­po­si­tion lead­ers — Thomas Tha­bane, Th­e­sele ‘ Maserib­ane and Keketso Ran­tšo of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Ba­sotho Na­tional Party and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho re­spec­tively — who fled for South Africa in May last year say­ing they had been alerted of a plot, al­legedly by some LDF mem­bers, to as­sas­si­nate them. The lead­ers also claimed the al­leged plot was be­ing mas­ter­minded by Lt-gen Kamoli. All the three lead­ers have vowed never to re­turn to Le­sotho un­til Lt-gen Kamoli is re­moved as LDF com­man­der. But ac­cord­ing to Mr Sekata, Lt-gen Kamoli is go­ing nowhere and the govern­ment would not be forced into re­mov­ing him by any­one.

Le­sotho’s in­ter­na­tional aid part­ners, par­tic­u­larly the Amer­i­cans, had also called for Lt-gen Kamoli’s re­moval af­ter brand­ing him a “di­vi­sive fig­ure”.

Mr Sekata’s re­marks mark the first ever time that a key player in the cur­rent seven party coali­tion govern­ment has pub­licly con­firmed that the govern­ment would never fol­low SADC’S key rec­om­men­da­tion to fire Kamoli.

This stance will likely com­pli­cate ef­forts to achieve long last­ing sta­bil­ity and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion as all ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers have made Lt-gen Kamoli’s fir­ing –– as per the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions –– a key pre-con­di­tion for their re­turn.

“Of the four rec­om­men­da­tions made by SADC’S Phumaphi Com­mis­sion, it’s funny that the op­po­si­tion and the rest of the peo­ple who say they are con­cerned and want them speed­ily im­ple­mented, are just in­ter­ested in the re­moval of Ntate Kamoli,” Mr Sekata said.

“The LCD has made it very clear that we have al­ways wanted Ntate Kamoli as army com­man­der, when on the other hand, the op­po­si­tion wanted Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. So how is it pos­si­ble that af­ter the peo­ple have spo­ken and en­trusted us with the govern­ment, we even dare think of re­mov­ing this com­man­der we al­ways wanted?

“We were voted into power be­cause of what we were say­ing in our cam­paigns. We got the com­man­der we al­ways be­lieved in so the op­po­si­tion can’t just wish him away. He is there un­til 2020, at the ear­li­est, and that is only if the op­po­si­tion gets back into govern­ment through demo­cratic elec­tions.”

Mr Sekata also said it was now very im­por­tant for ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers to re­alise that they might have to stay in South Africa un­til 2020 if Lt-gen Kamoli’s re­moval is a con­di­tion for their re­turn.

“Those op­po­si­tion lead­ers will have to make peace with Kamoli be­ing the com­man­der be­cause he is not go­ing any­where any­time soon. It’s ei­ther they make peace with it or wait for the next elec­tions in 2020. And if they are lucky and are voted back into power, then and only then shall their wish to re­move him be granted,” said Mr Sekata, in the most ef­fu­sive re­marks yet against the SADC rec­om­men­da­tion for the army com­man­der’s ouster.

“Un­til the King has dis­solved par­lia­ment in 2020 and called for the next elec­tions, Com­man­der Kamoli re­mains in his po­si­tion.”

The en­tire top brass of the govern­ment had hith­erto shied away from ad­dress­ing the topic of Lt-gen Kamoli’s dis­missal as per SADC rec­om­men­da­tions. In re­leas­ing the SADC In­quiry re­port in Par­lia­ment, Dr Mo­sisili had said the govern­ment would im­ple­ment some of the rec­om­men­da­tions in the short, medium and long-term while oth­ers “would never see the light of day”.

Dr Mo­sisili did not elab­o­rate on which SADC rec­om­men­da­tions would never see the light of day. Mr Sekata’s re­marks nev­er­the­less seem to now con­firm that the fir­ing of Lt-gen­eral Kamoli could be one such rec­om­men­da­tion that the Prime Min­is­ter had in mind when he de­clared that some of the rec­om­men­da­tions would never see the light of day.

Such a stance may also put the govern­ment at log­ger­heads with SADC. The re­gional body had in its pre­vi­ous com­mu­niques ex­plic­itly called upon the Le­sotho govern­ment to im­ple­ment all the rec­om­men­da­tions of its In­quiry.

On to­day’s call for a stay-away and protest march by ‘Con­cerned Non-state Ac­tors’, Mr Sekata said there would be se­cu­rity to en­sure peo­ple who want to go to work do so safely. He warned those plan­ning the protest march against vi­o­lat­ing the coun­try’s laws.

“They should know that their right to ex­er­cise their pow­ers ends where ours to swing our arms be­gin,” said Mr Sekata.

Asked to com­ment on Mr Sekata’s dec­la­ra­tion, ABC spokesper­son Tefo Mape­sela said the state­ment was un­for­tu­nate. Mr Mape­sela also said the govern­ment should ex­plain if it had man­dated the LCD to speak on its be­half.

“Sekata has no author­ity to be say­ing all this. There were many rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry so why does he think we are only in­ter­ested in this par­tic­u­lar one which calls for Kamoli’s re­moval?

“The govern­ment has never re­vealed its stance re­gard­ing these rec­om­men­da­tions and it’s time it tells us the role of the LCD so that we may start tak­ing Sekata’s ut­ter­ances se­ri­ously,” Mr Mape­sela said.

“Like I said, the govern­ment should clearly state if it has man­dated the LCD to han­dle govern­ment is­sues on its own, so we know how to re­spond and the right plat­form to do so.”

How­ever, Mr Mape­sela also said the op­po­si­tion still had con­fi­dence and faith that the govern­ment would im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“We still have faith that the govern­ment will en­gage us in talks per­tain­ing to the rec­om­men­da­tions. The LCD is not in govern­ment alone. It is a part­ner in this coali­tion govern­ment,” said Mr Mape­sela.

But since the LCD is the sec­ond most pow­er­ful coali­tion part­ner without whom the coali­tion govern­ment can­not sur­vive, it seems Mr Sekata’s re­marks puts paid to any op­po­si­tion hopes of achiev­ing Lt-gen Kamoli’s re­moval.

LDF Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli


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