AU blasts Le­sotho

But Po­lice Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki hits back at con­ti­nen­tal body

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

THE Africa Union (AU) has, in an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic move, ex­pressed out­rage over what it de­scribes as “the break­down in the rule of law” in Le­sotho.

How­ever, the seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment has hit back at the con­ti­nen­tal body, ac­cus­ing it of un­due in­ter­fer­ence in the King­dom’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

The AU’S state­ment is seen as adding more pres­sure on the coali­tion gov­ern­ment in light of sim­i­lar pro­nounce­ments from the

South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment part­ners in­clud­ing the Euro­pean Union and the United States gov­ern­ment.

The AU’S stance was prompted by the re­cent at­tack on the res­i­dence of Na­tional Uni­ver­sity of Le­sotho Pro-vice Chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Mafa Se­jana­mane, a staunch critic of Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s rul­ing coali­tion.

The AU, which has of­ten faced ac­cu­sa­tions of be­ing soft with mem­ber states and of be­ing weak in re­dress­ing abuses on the con­ti­nent, also urged the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the SADC com­mis­sion of in­quiry into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity.

In an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally strongly worded state­ment, AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-zuma con­demned the 7 May 2016 at­tack on Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane’s Mazenod home, de­scrib­ing it as hav­ing “ad­verse ef­fects” on the coun­try’s democ­racy, peace and sta­bil­ity.

Although the out­spo­ken aca­demic and his family were un­harmed, Dr Dlamini-zuma said she had learnt of the at­tack “with shock and dis­may”, hence her con­cern about “the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing state of hu­man rights, rule of law and con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism in the King­dom of Le­sotho”.

Dr Dlamini-zuma called on the gov­ern­ment to en­sure that the at­tack is thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated and the per­pe­tra­tors brought to book.

The AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son also ex­pressed sup­port for SADC’S “con­certed ef­forts” to help bring sta­bil­ity to Le­sotho and called on the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions made by the re­gional bloc’s com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the coun­try’s se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges.

“Fol­low­ing the Sadc-spon­sored Com­mis­sion of In­quiry led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana, there was a ray of hope that Le­sotho would re­store con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism and the rule of law,” Dr Dlamini-zuma’s said in the state­ment re­leased this week.

“The Chair­per­son strongly urges the Gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of the King­dom of Le­sotho to ur­gently im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Phumaphi re­port with a view to en­sur­ing last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho.”

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­is­ter Khotso Let­satsi yesterday pro­fessed ig­no­rance of the AU state­ment but said the po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane’s at­tack.

“I have not seen the state­ment and so can’t com­ment on it. The only thing I can say is that po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the case are in progress,” Mr Let­satsi said.

How­ever, Po­lice Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki re­acted an­grily to the AU, say­ing Le­sotho was “not a jun­gle” and did not de­serve such a let­ter from the con­ti­nen­tal body.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing for Dr Dlamini-zuma to in­ter­fere in this case and al­lege that the rule of law is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing in Le­sotho,” Mr Moleleki said.

“There is crime in ev­ery coun­try and that doesn’t mean there is in­sta­bil­ity in that coun­try. It’s sur­pris­ing that the AU is so in­ter­ested in some­one who was not even in­jured to the ex­tent that it de­cided to is­sue such a state­ment.

“Who is this Se­jana­mane whose at­tack could be said to have caused in­sta­bil­ity and the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the rule of law in this coun­try?”

Mr Moleleki said Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Mo­lahlehi Let­soepa had not even re­ported the at­tack dur­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings be­tween the po­lice and sis­ter se­cu­rity agen­cies, an in­di­ca­tion that the mat­ter was be­ing treated like any other crim­i­nal case. He was there­fore sur­prised by the AU’S in­ter­ven­tion.

“I want every­body to be clear on this mat­ter. It is not that the at­tack doesn’t need po­lice investigation. It does, but peo­ple must un­der­stand it is not dif­fer­ent from other crim­i­nal cases which have hap­pened in Le­sotho and it cer­tainly isn’t worth the AU’S in­ter­ven­tion.

“There have been cases in this coun­try, such as the mur­der of for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Selometsi Ba­holo by sol­diers and this in­deed at­tracted the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity but for­eign or­gan­i­sa­tions did not rec­om­mend the re­moval of the then army com­man­der,” said Mr Moleleki in ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to a SADC rec­om­men­da­tion for the re­moval of army com­man­der Lieu­tenan­tGen­eral Tlali Kamoli.

Mr Moleleki de­nied al­le­ga­tions that the AU state­ment had thrown the gov­ern­ment into a frenzy, prompt­ing it to call an emer­gency meet­ing on Tues­day to dis­cuss its im­pli­ca­tions.

“I only had a reg­u­lar se­cu­rity meet­ing with the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, At­tor­ney-gen­eral, Min­is­ter of De­fence, Direc­tor of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice, Le­sotho De­fence Force Com­man­der and the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice.

“And like I said, that is­sue was never raised in that meet­ing,” the min­is­ter said.

De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Tšeliso Mokhosi sim­i­larly de­nied meet­ing Mr Moleleki and se­cu­rity chiefs over the AU state­ment.

“I didn’t even see the state­ment you are talk­ing about. And again, we don’t even know about the said at­tack on Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane’s house,” Mr Mokhosi said.

Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane told the Le­sotho Times af­ter the at­tack that he first heard two gun­shots which were im­me­di­ately fol­lowed by the noise of his home’sme’s shat­ter­ing ring win­dowow­panes.

He said he foundund six stones, one in­side the house and the rest out­side by the bro­ken two wo win­dows. He sus­pect­sus­pects the stones were among the “mis­siles” used by the un­known as­sailants in the at­tack.

The renowned aca­demic said he sus­pected that the at­tack was con­nected to his crit­i­cal analysis about Le­sotho’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in both the print and elec­tronic me­dia.

But the de­fi­ant pro­fes­sor said he was “more de­ter­mined than ever” to speak out against any in­jus­tices by the rul­ing coali­tion and never to be cowed into ac­qui­es­cence.

“No­body will stop me from do­ing my part in con­tribut­ing to a demo­cratic Le­sotho,” he de­clared.

In its con­dem­na­tion of the at­tack, the NUL Se­nate ap­pealed for in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance in bring­ing law and or­der to Le­sotho.

“While it re­mains un­clear who was be­hind the at­tack, and what their rea­sons were, it is dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate the at­tack from other sim­i­lar re­cent in­ci­dents in the coun­try, and from the gen­eral break­down of the rule of law in the coun­try which has ex­posed cit­i­zens to un­prece­dented in­se­cu­rity in re­cent months,” the NUL Se­nate said in a state­ment.

“The reign­ing law­less­ness has en­gen­dered fer­tile ground for all forms of crim­i­nal­ity, in­clud­ing un­leash­ing those who want to sow fear and si­lence the na­tion through in­tim­i­da­tion and ag­gres­sion.

“Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane him­self has pub­licly stated that he sus­pects the at­tack on his home was car­ried out by those who are op­posed to his views, es­pe­cially to his con­sis­tent call for the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment SADC di­rec­tives on the po­lit­i­cal and secu- rity sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

“In this re­gard, Pro­fes­sor Se­jana­mane is cer­tainly not alone to have earned the wrath of those who are de­ter­mined to un­der­mine the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the SADC di­rec­tives through in­tim­i­dat­ing the en­tire na­tion to sub­mis­sion, ” the NUL state­ment said.

The SADC in­quiry, which was es­tab­lished af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao by his mil­i­tary col­leagues in June last year, made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at restor­ing sta­bil­ity to Le­sotho.

Among the rec­om­men­da­tions is the dis­missal of Lt-gen Kamoli “in the in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and ac­cep­tance of the 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 were in progress.

The in­quiry con­cluded that some of Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity prob­lems were due to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion and en­cour­aged con­sti­tu­tional re­forms.

The “de­fi­cien­cies and over­laps” in the con­sti­tu­tion with re­gard to the man­dates of se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions needed to be looked into ur­gently “with a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy to re­form them”, the in­quiry said.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Methotjoa Mets­ing said the gov­ern­ment was still study­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions and would pro­nounce on their im­ple­men­ta­tion in due course.

Civic groups last week de­manded speed­ier im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions in a protest march and handed a pe­ti­tion out­lin­ing their de­mands to cab­i­net min­is­ters.

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki

PO­LICE min­is­ter monyane moleleki.

AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-zuma.

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