Kamoli exit: Too little too late?
THIS is the most pertinent question that cries out for an impartial answer as Lesotho teeters inexorably towards whether it will fully meet the requirements for its eligibility for being a beneficiary under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) extended by the United States.
Briefly, for countries to be eligible for these two facilities a country must be proven to uphold the rule of law, basic human rights, free enterprise policies, free press, governance, transparency and create an investor friendly environment for its economy to create employment opportunities AGOA offers. It’s a country duty free access to the lucrative US markets of its goods such as textiles and fabric. The US also extends billions in economic assistance to such a country in areas covering all fronts such as health, wetlands rehabilitation, access to water, sanitation, HIV/AIDS eradication and many other sectors.
If a country loses out on AGOA for instance, it will be liable for reevaluation for eligibility only after a lapse of two years, which is quite a frightening possibility.
These are precisely the requirements for eligibility that the US Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Linda Thomas-greenfield spelt to government and other stakeholders on her recent two-day visit to Lesotho. In addition, the US envoy bemoaned the fact that for more than a year, government had been dilly-dallying on the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) decisions to bring political and security stability to Lesotho that emanated from the Phumaphi Commission. This Commission was appointed as a result of the killing on 25 June 2015 of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, by his colleagues while allegedly resisting arrest.
Four recommendations were adopted as SADC decisions emanated from this commission, these are in no particular order: (1) The removal of Lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli from the helm of the army as the commission had gathered evidence that in order to among others, engender the integrity and image of the army among Basotho; the granting of amnesty to the detained soldiers at Maseru Maximum Security Prison whom the commission concluded had, through coercion, confessed to mutiny.
The return of all exiled political leaders; the investigation, suspension and prosecution through ac- ceptable international standards of all people including soldiers who were responsible for killing of Mahao, murder and other crimes and (4) the implementation of the constitutional, security, judicial and public sector reforms as encapsulated in the SOMILES report headed by South Africa’s deputy president and SADC Facilitator Cyril Ramaphosa. For now, I do not want to deal with the long-term merits of removing the commander from the helm of the army. That topic belongs to another day.
Ambassador Thomas-greenfield bemoaned the introduction of the Amnesty Bill 2016 that seeks to provide a blanket amnesty to members of the disciplined forces and state agents and operatives who were suspected of having committed criminal acts from 2007 to 2015. The US envoy rightly described this bill as intended to introduce a culture of immunity.
It is against this rather lengthy background that I invite the reader to draw conclusion on whether by releasing the army commander the government has done too little too late. It will be empirically observed from the above that Lesotho has at the time of going to press, only met the first requirement. As to whether it will implement the other requirements or shall I say SADC decisions, the nation is still waiting with bated breath.
However, at the time of going to press only a quarter of the requirements have been met. What is of critical cal importance, however, is that hat removing only the army y commander will not be enough gh to qualify for eligibility.
Drawing awing from what the US envoy y said in her exclusive interview rview with the Lesotho Timeses in its 3 November 2016,, under the heading: “Lesothootho faces the boot” it would d appear that Lesotho to againn be eligible for the two facilities, ities, a number of requirements ts have to be met.
In that interview the US envoy is quoted saying “And the secondnd one (that is, the SADC Continuestinues on page 14 . . .
Lieutenant-general tlali Kamoli.