“The truth is that these leaders did not flee in fear of General Kamoli. The sequence of events alone will suffice to expose this fallacy. The former Prime Minister and the Leader of the BNP fled to South Africa on 18th and 20th May 2015 respectively, following the arrests of many mutiny suspects.
“General Kamoli was only reinstated later, on 21st May 2015. That is, they fled before he was reinstated. Also in their media statements at the time, these leaders never mentioned General Kamoli as their reason for fleeing. So the truth is that they were not fleeing from General Kamoli. If the Commission had taken the trouble to establish this sequence of events, it would have uncovered this fallacy,” Dr Mosisili said.
The opposition leaders, he added, only sought refuge in South Africa to further their political agenda.
“These leaders live in South Africa in order to achieve their own political ends. It is clear that if they come home, they will become ordinary backbenchers, thereby losing the attention of the international community. The only way to continue to attract this attention is to stay in exile. In other words, they have a stronger political voice when they are in exile. The point is that they have found in the report of this Commission, ostensibly credible grounds for their continued self-exile. This is regrettable,” he said.
On the issue of security instability, Dr Mosisili said there was nothing to prove that Lt-gen Kamoli’s reappointment led to the country’s insecurity.
“In paragraph 116 page 50, the Commission said ‘the reappointment of LieutenantGeneral Kamoli was preceded by grave political and security instabilities that besieged the Kingdom of Lesotho during the reign of Dr T Thabane. The instabilities reached a crescendo when the then Prime Minister removed Lieutenant-general Kamoli and appointed Brigadier Mahao as LDF Commander. That spelt the collapse of former Prime Minister Thabane’s Coalition government and resulted in brought-forward election negotiated through a SADC intervention’.
“Contrary to the Commission’s view above, the real reasons for the collapse of former Prime Minister Thabane’s Coalition government were of a c and parliamentary nature. They had nothing to do with the removal and/or appointment of the LDF Commander.”
On the Commission’d recommendations, Dr Mosisili said: “The Phumaphi Report makes five recommendations. In order to make for a logical sequence of my presentation under this heading, I have arranged my discussion of these recommendations in an order that is different from the one in the report. It is as follows: Amnesty for Mutiny Suspects; Constitutional Reform; Criminal Investigations on the Death of Brigadier Mahao; Suspensions for LDF Officers; Removal of Lieutenant-general Kamoli as LDF Commander.
“In connection with the matter of amnesty for the mutiny suspects, it would seem that the Commission is inclined to deny the very existence of a mutiny plot, arriving at the conclusion that the whole case of mutiny is ‘highly suspect’. However, as indicated, the highest court of Lesotho ruled that in fact, there is a case to answer on the mutiny plot. Be that as it may, the Commission makes its recommendation on this matter as follows, ‘In these circumstances, we recommend a facilitation of an amnesty that will cover the detained mutiny suspects and ensure the safe return of all members of the LDF who have fled Lesotho in fear for their lives’. As indicated above, the basis for this recommendation is very shaky. However, the idea of an amnesty is quite attractive. Conceived properly, its basic intention is to create conditions for peace and stability. It seeks to bring closure to a preoccupation with recriminations and counter-recriminations, and paves the way to reconciliation and healing. It aims to bring both the minds and the hearts of warring factions together, paving the way to a new and constructive engagement.
“Its effect is to bring an end to destructive scramble and create new hope, thereby unleashing positive energy.”
However, the “glaring weakness” of this recommendation, he said, was that “it proposes pardon for one side of the divide, and anguish for the other; amnesty for those sus- pected of munity, and suspensions for those suspected of murder and treason.”
This, he said, would be “insensitive and unwise” , adding government felt “a wide application of this recommendation in the form of a general amnesty that covers all these officers would go some distance in paving the way to lasting peace and tranquility.”
But he warns of the possible consequences of such a pardon.
“It must be noted that normally the basis of an amnesty is full disclosure, and that care must be exercised that the grant of amnesty does not engender impunity in the disciplined forces. This is all the more so when the Court of Appeal has determined that the officers for whom the Commission recommends amnesty, in fact, do have a case to answer. The view to let the law take its course and the accused have their day in court is equally quite compelling,” he said.
On the issue of reforms, Dr Mosisili said the process had already started.
“In September 2015, government submitted a request to the UNDP in Lesotho for an expert in Dialogue and Consensus Building in the area of Constitutional Reform. In November work started under the auspices of the Cabinet Sub-committee on the Constitution with support from an additional expert in constitution building, also provided by the UNDP,” he noted.
“This process has resulted in two documents. The first one articulates steps that will be followed in building a new constitution for Lesotho, which by the way, will be the first constitution in which Basotho are fully involved in its making through a referendum. The second document details strategies that will be used to approach all stakeholders to lobby them for their full participation in making the Constitution. Both of these documents have detailed Gantt charts that indicate precisely when activities will commence, and when they are expected to be completed. The first document has already been shared with the SADC Secretariat. It is expected that the official launch will be in July 2016; and that depending on how consultations with stakeholders go, the constitution building process will start in November 2016.”
On the shooting of Lt-gen Mahao, the prime minister said the government supported the recommendation that it should facilitate criminal investigations into the killing.
“Government wholly supports this recommendation, not only because it is recommended by the Commission, but more importantly because it is the right thing to do in pursuance of the rule of law,” he said.
“Having said that, I wish to indicate that the issue of investigation in Lesotho is guided by a time-tested international procedure. The police make comprehensive investigations. They pass their findings to the prosecuting authority, which in Lesotho, is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP examines these findings to determine whether or not there is a case. If there is a case, he pursues such a case in the courts of law, and the law follows its course. In this case, government has already submitted the Phumaphi Report, together with the Report of the Pathologist, to the police. The police have started with their investigations. It is expected that the procedure described above will be followed to its logical conclusion. The importance of prompt and decisive action on this matter has been duly communicated to both the DPP and the police authorities.”
Dr Mosisili however, said the government was “uneasy” regarding recommendations that LDF officers implicated in crimes should be suspended while investigations into the allegations are taking place.
“I must inform this Honourable House that government is quite uneasy about this recommendation. It is based on incidents that happened long before the death of Brigadier Mahao, a time that is outside the mandate of the Commission. It is based on the testimony of a witness who was not crossexamined. More importantly, these officers were not given the opportunity to present their side of the story in line with the audi alteram partem principle of natural justice. Moreover, there is a serious element of bias if this group is to be suspended and investigated, while an amnesty is being extended to the other group who, for all intents and purposes, they perceive as their rivals. All in all, it seems uncomfortably controversial. It certainly has the potential to cause a lot of justified stir and agitation both inside and outside the armed forces,” he said.
“As a result of the above considerations, government is inclined to include these officers in a general amnesty that covers those suspected of mutiny and those implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason. An amnesty is always controversial. But government feels that this may be the best thing to do in these circumstances. All that remains is for government to enter into appropriate consultations and work out modalities, including administrative and legislative arrangements and procedures.”
On the removal of Lt-gen Kamoli as army commander, Dr Mosisili said the government doubts his dismissal would “cure” the alleged problems in the LDF, but would still engage him on the issue.
“In connection with Lieutenant-general Tlali Kennedy Kamoli, the Commission says, ‘The general discontent of some Basotho with the Commander of LDF, LieutenantGeneral Kamoli and the conduct of the LDF under his command is disconcerting. In the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation, it is strongly recommended that Lieutenant-general Kamoli be relieved of his duties as Commander LDF, and all LDF officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason be suspended while investigations in their cases proceed in line with international best practice.’
“This august House will note that I have dealt conclusively with the issue of officers implicated in crimes,’ he said.
“The issue of relieving Lieutenant-general Tlali Kennedy Kamoli of his duties as Commander of the LDF is, by far, the most contentious and problematic of all the recommendations of this Commission. There are two reasons for this. First, and as indicated earlier in this statement, the reasons advanced to motivate this recommendation are highly controversial and most unconvincing. Many of them are plain untruths. In other words, in the opinion of government, this really is a very big recommendation chasing very little empirical evidence. Government is convinced that in spite of the fervent and highly spirited campaign to demonize and tarnish his image, General Kamoli remains a competent, dedicated and loyal soldier whose credentials are unquestionable. So it is not obvious to us that removing him is actually in the best interest of our country.
“Second, General Kamoli is only part of the general command of the LDF, albeit its head. He is not the LDF. Government deeply doubts this thinking that the removal of one person will have the effect of curing all the alleged ills of the LDF. This is why Government would much prefer a security reform as opposed to a once-off approach that targets individuals.
“Be that as it may, government has heard the national and international agitations and submissions, fuelled by a very strong negative perception that has been created around General Kamoli. In the light of this, Government has decided to engage General Kamoli on a mutually agreeable solution; and a definitive statement will be made in good time, following due process in this regard.”
Dr Mosisili also reiterated government’s “strong resolve” to implement the Commission’s recommendations.
“There is a strong resolve on the part of government to implement the recommendations of this Commission. There is solid progress with regard to constitutional reform. In a similar vein, to kick-start the process of security reform, government has sought and received assistance from SADC to facilitate technical work on Security Sector Reform. Government hopes to make significant progress on all the others in due course,” he said.
LDF commander Lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli.