SADC con­venes Le­sotho summit

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

THE South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) has called a spe­cial summit to dis­cuss Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion, with par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on the gov­ern­ment’s progress in im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions made by the re­gional body’s com­mis­sion of in­quiry led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi.

The re­gional body’s Dou­ble Troika Summit is set for Gaborone, Botswana on 28 June 2016. It has also given the gov­ern­ment un­til to­mor­row to sub­mit a re­port de­tail­ing the progress it has made in im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at ad­dress­ing the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

Botswana (SADC chair), Mozam­bique ( SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion chair), South Africa, Tan­za­nia, Swazi­land and Zim­babwe heads of state and gov­ern­ment will at­tend the summit.

Ac­cord­ing to a let­ter dated 13 June 2016, and writ­ten by SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Dr Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax to For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane, the summit was con­vened by SADC chair­per­son and Botswana Pres­i­dent Ian Khama. It will com­mence at 10 am on 28 June 2016.

Mr Sekhamane yes­ter­day con­firmed re­ceiv­ing the let­ter, telling the Le­sotho Times the gov­ern­ment was ready to sub­mit the progress re­port to SADC as re­quested.

“The re­port is here and ready to be given to SADC,” Mr Sekhamane said. “On the is­sue of the ac­tual summit, I am not yet in a po­si­tion to com­ment be­cause the gov­ern­ment has not made a de­ci­sion on who is go­ing to at­tend.”

Dr Tax, who ac­knowl­edged writ­ing the let­ter in an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times, said she could not say more on the let­ter as it had been writ­ten to the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho.

But the let­ter, which is copied to Botswana and Mozam­bique For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Min­is­ters Dr Pelonomi Ven­son-moltol and Oldemiro Jŭlio Mar­ques Balói re­spec­tively, clearly states what is ex­pected of Le­sotho, and reads: “Fol­low­ing a di­rec­tive by the Chair­per­son of SADC, I wish to in­form you that a Dou­ble Troika Summit has been con­vened to take place on 28 June 2016 at 10:00 hours.

“The Dou­ble Troika Summit will con­sider the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the King­dom of Le­sotho, specif­i­cally the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SADC de­ci­sions.

“To this ef­fect, you are re­quested to sub­mit a progress re­port that will fa­cil­i­tate prepa­ra­tions of the meet­ing. We will ap­pre­ci­ate re­ceiv­ing the progress re­port by 17 June 2016.

“The Summit will be pre­ceded by meet­ings of Se­nior Of­fi­cials and Min­is­ters and will be con­vened as fol­lows: 27 June — Meet­ing of Se­nior Of­fi­cials/ ar­rival of Min­is­ters. 28 June, 08:00 — 09:00, Meet­ing of Min­is­ters; 09:00 — 09:30 Prepa­ra­tion of doc­u­ments; 10:00 — 11:30, Dou­ble Troika Summit; 11:45, Adop­tion of Com­mu­niqué.”

Ba­sotho Na­tional Party ( BNP) spokesper­son, Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe, who said he was speak­ing on be­half of the op­po­si­tion al­liance which also in­cludes the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL), said the summit would “ex­pose” what he de­scribed as the gov­ern­ment’s dis­mal fail­ure to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the SADC in­quiry.

Mr Mo­fo­mobe said the op­po­si­tion would be send­ing a del­e­ga­tion to Botswana for both to­mor­row’s ex­pected han­dover of the progress re­port and the 27-28 June summit in Gaborone.

He said the gov­ern­ment had not im­ple­mented any of the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Phumaphi in­quiry. SADC es­tab­lished the Phumaphi com­mis­sion to probe the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao by his col­leagues on 25 June 2015 out­side Maseru, al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny.

Among the Phumaphi com­mis­sion’s key rec­om­men­da­tions was the dis­missal of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen Tlali Kamoli “in the in­ter­ests 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 pro­ceed “in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice”.

The Com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended that the gov­ern­ment should en­sure that crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of Lt-gen 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 ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers — for­mer prime min­is­ter and ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane, BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘ Maserib­ane and RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo — who fled to South Africa in May 2015 say­ing they feared as­sas­si­na­tion by LDF mem­bers. The army has since re­buffed the op­po­si­tion lead­ers’ claims.

But Mr Mo­fo­mobe in­sisted that “none of the rec­om­men­da­tions have been im­ple­mented, which is why this gov­ern­ment is now in a tight cor­ner”.

He added: “The op­po­si­tion is cur­rently work­ing on select­ing peo­ple who will be in Gaborone on Fri­day to see whether the gov­ern­ment will be able to sub­mit the progress re­port as re­quested by SADC.

“The same del­e­ga­tion will also go to the Dou­ble Troika Summit, not to be part of the of­fi­cials meet­ings, but to en­gage on the side-lines the way we did in pre­vi­ous sum­mits.”

Mr Mo­fo­mobe al­leged that the gov­ern­ment would not meet to­mor­row’s dead­line to sub­mit a progress re­port on the rec­om­men­da­tions “be­cause the same gov­ern­ment failed to do so in March this year af­ter a sim­i­lar de­mand by Mozam­bi­can Pres­i­dent Filipe Nyusi in his ca­pac­ity as chair­per­son of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion”.

He con­tin­ued: “We are cer­tain that the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to fail to sub­mit the re­port be­cause it does not have any­thing to re­port on.

“To this day, Kamoli is still com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force de­spite rec­om­men­da­tions that he must be re­moved. Op­po­si­tion lead­ers are also still in ex­ile, Gen­eral Ma­hao’s mur­der­ers have not been put be­fore the courts of law and mutiny sus­pects have not been re­leased.

“There has been ab­so­lutely no progress re­gard­ing those rec­om­men­da­tions. So the gov­ern­ment has noth­ing to re­port and give to SADC.”

The spe­cial SADC summit comes af­ter civic groups fall­ing un­der the um­brella of the “Al­liance of Non-state Ac­tors” staged a protest march on 12 May this year de­mand­ing the im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion of all the SADC in­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions among other de­mands.

African Union (AU) chair­woman Nkosazana Dlamini-zuma has also weighed in last month, stat­ing that she was con­cerned about the “the break­down in the rule of law” in Le­sotho. Le­sotho was nearly sus­pended from SADC dur­ing the Dou­ble Troika’s last Summit held in Gaborone in Jan­uary this year with South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma an­nounc­ing that the re­gional body had ten­ta­tively de­cided to sus­pend Le­sotho from its ranks.

This was af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili had re­fused to re­ceive the Phumaphi re­port cit­ing an on­go­ing High Court case in which LDF Spe­cial Forces Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi was chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of the in­quiry.

How­ever, Dr Mo­sisili de­cided to ac­cept the re­port the fol­low­ing day, ef­fec­tively mut­ing the threat of sus­pen­sion.

prime min­is­ter pakalitha mo­sisili (right) re­ceives Jus­tice mpa­phi phumaphi’s re­port from Botswana pres­i­dent ian Khama Khama while SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Dr Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax looks on in this Jan­uary file pic­ture.

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