Where is SADC go­ing with Le­sotho?

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

ON Tues­day, 19 Jan­uary, 2016, in the main evening South African tele­vi­sion news bul­letin, a vis­i­bly frus­trated but nev­er­the­less de­ter­mined Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of South Africa, de­clared on the side­lines of the SADC sum­mit that: “If the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho is not go­ing to im­ple­ment the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions, then SADC is go­ing to dis­en­gage in all its ac­tiv­i­ties in Le­sotho. How­ever, this does not mean that SADC is aban­don­ing the peo­ple of Le­sotho but rather that in the event of non-im­ple­men­ta­tion, SADC is go­ing to im­ple­ment th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions on be­half of the peo­ple of Le­sotho”.

This strong mes­sage was in­deed heart­en­ing com­ing from the leader of ar­guably the most pow­er­ful SADC mem­ber both mil­i­tar­ily and eco­nom­i­cally. Th­ese words for­ti­fied the be­lief among many Ba­sotho that the time for diplo­matic pos­tur­ing for the then em­bat­tled Mo­sisili gov­ern­ment was over. The mes­sage even for the rest of the world was that gone are the days when SADC used to treat fel­low er­rant mem­ber states with kids’ gloves. SADC meant busi­ness.

The very next day at the cusp of the sum­mit Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili was handed the Phumaphi Re­port, which he had ear­lier vowed never to re­ceive, for im­ple­men­ta­tion. SADC then re­leased a com­mu­nique as is its tra­di­tion, af­ter ev­ery sum­mit, as­sur­ing the world that if Le­sotho failed or re­fused to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions, then it would be obliged to con­vene a spe­cial Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit to force Le­sotho to im­ple­ment.

How­ever, and sadly, what fol­lowed was re­fusal, at least tac­itly or by word, as echoed in the words of var­i­ous gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons, to im­ple­ment any of the rec­om­men­da­tions. Fur­ther, what fol­lowed was un­prec- edented dither­ing by SADC and osten­si­bly not know­ing what to do to re­solve the Le­sotho im­passe.

Shortly there­after, there fol­lowed the African Union sum­mit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was now at­tended by Le­sotho’s Deputy Prime Min­is­ter. At the side­lines of that sum­mit, the DPM met the chair­man of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity, Pres­i­dent Felipe Nyusu of Mozam­bique. At th­ese talks the DPM promised the chair­man that Le­sotho would af­ter all, im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions. How­ever, still noth­ing moved.

On his re­turn to Le­sotho the DPM again went on a diplo­matic charm of­fen­sive to both Botswana, as the chair of SADC and Mozam­bique, as the chair of the Or­gan. In this whirl­wind tour of the two cap­i­tals the DPM again as­sured the two heads of state that the rec­om­men­da­tions would be im­ple­mented. How­ever, what was ap­par­ent, though not ev­i­dent in all th­ese ef­forts, and tours was the ap­par­ent in­er­tia of the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor on Le­sotho, South Africa’s Deputy Pres­i­dent, Cyril Ramaphosa.

What was even more dis­turb­ing was the non-op­er­a­tional­iza­tion and non-de­ploy­ment of the SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee that had been rec­om­mended since the 19th Jan­uary sum­mit.

My sus­pi­cion is that the es­tab­lish­ment and op­er­a­tional­iza­tion of this Com­mit­tee were the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary and the fa­cil­i­ta­tor, how­ever, no such moves were un­der­taken by ei­ther of the two of­fi­cials. As a re­sult, the com­mit­tee whose man­date was to ex­er­cise an ea­gle eye and mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho, was never op­er­a­tional­ized.

In the in­terim, the Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary paid a brief visit to Le­sotho to mon­i­tor and take stock of the progress in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions of SADC. Sur­pris­ingly the said of­fi­cer said on her de­par­ture on be­ing in­ter­viewed by the me­dia that she had no­ticed con­sid­er­able progress in the im­ple­men­ta­tion. I am say­ing sur­pris­ingly be­cause no Mosotho worth his salt, liv­ing in Le­sotho, ever re­al­ized any tan­gi­ble progress.

Per­haps notic­ing that in all hon­esty, there was no tan­gi­ble progress to re­port on and in view also of the loom­ing SADC sum­mit and in ad­di­tion, to the un­der­tak­ing to con­vene a Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in the ab­sence of any im­ple­men­ta­tion, SADC again con­vened the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in Gaborone, Botswana, to dis­cuss the se­cu­rity, and po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho, in ad­di­tion to progress on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions.

There­fore, at its sum­mit of 28th June, 2016, the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit of SADC, is­sued a com­mu­nique which said I quote, par­tially: (4) “Sum­mit re­ceived a re­port as pre­sented by the gov­ern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho re­gard­ing progress made on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Sum­mit De­ci­sions, and en­sure that and urged the gov­ern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho to ur­gently ful­fil her com­mit­ments through demon­stra­ble im­ple­men­ta­tion of SADC de­ci­sions”. In ad­di­tion, the com­mu­nique urged the lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion par­ties still in ex­ile in South Africa, al­legedly fear­ing for their lives, to re­turn to Le­sotho, by the end of Au­gust.

Osten­si­bly be­cause he was en­gaged in his coun­try’s keenly con­tested mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor barely set foot in Le­sotho, as man­dated by the re­gional body to fa­cil­i­tate and over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its de­ci­sions. He there­fore only in­vited the three lead­ers to Pre­to­ria on 10th Au­gust, 2016, to fa­cil­i­tate their re­turn to Le­sotho. He how­ever, hit the prover­bial brick­wall or rather they in­sisted they were not re­turn­ing to Le­sotho with the present army com­man­der still at the helm, con­trary to SADC de­ci­sions.

He also paid a sur­prise unan­nounced short visit to Le­sotho to take stock of the progress made in im­ple­ment­ing the de­ci­sion.it is ap­pro­pri­ate at this junc­ture to cast one’s mind back to the Phumaphi rec­om­men­da­tions that later be­came SADC de­ci­sions that were long sup­posed to have been im­ple­mented to­gether with the SOMILES re­port on Le­sotho.

Briefly the SADC de­ci­sions are four-fold, namely; (1) that the Com­man­der of the Army be re­lieved of his du­ties in or­der to en­sure the ac­cep­tance and en­gen­der cred­i­bil­ity of the army in the eyes of the Ba­sotho, (2) that all those army per­son­nel that are sus­pected of hav­ing been in­volved in the mur­der of for­mer army com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao and in other crimes be sus­pended from duty pend­ing a cred­itable po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into their con­duct ac­cord­ing to ac­cept­able in­ter­na­tional stan­dards,

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