Ramaphosa hosa cans na­tional tional di­a­logue e

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

THE op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties’ hopes of a multi-stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue be­fore the 3 June elec­tions were dashed this week af­ter South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho, Cyril Ramaphosa ( pic­tured) ap­proved the de­fer­ment of the ind­aba un­til af­ter the elec­tions in line with the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment’s ar­gu­ment of time con­straints be­fore the polls.

Le­sotho will hold its third elec­tions on 3 June and this fol­lows the suc­cess­ful no con­fi­dence vote by the op­po­si­tion against the seven par­ties’ coali­tion gov­ern­ment headed by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

Four par­ties, namely, the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Al­liance of Democrats (AD), Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Con­gress of Le­sotho (RCL) last month de­manded the multi- stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue which was man­dated by the SADC ex­tra-or­di­nary sum­mit for heads of state and gov­ern­ment held on 18 March 2017 in Swazi­land.

The stated aim of the na­tional di­a­logue was to build con­sen­sus and trust among all stake­hold­ers and chart the way for­ward for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SADC de­ci­sions.

The par­ties made the de­mand dur­ing their meet­ings with the SADC Elec­toral Ad­vi­sory Elec­toral Coun­cil (SEAC) and Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tary-gen­eral (SG) Pa­tri­cia Scot­land in Maseru last month.

They said the di­a­logue should be held be­fore the elec­tions, cit­ing a re­sump­tion of “pre-ex­ile in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tics” by Dr Mo­sisili’s gov­ern­ment and the “in­creas­ing” role of the army in the polls prepa­ra­tions among other con­cerns.

In ad­di­tion to closely mon­i­tor­ing the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho, the sum­mit man­dated Mr Ramaphosa and the SADC Over­sight Com­mit­tee to hold a multi-stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue ahead of the 3 June 2017 elec­tions.

The stated aim of the na­tional di­a­logue was to build con­sen­sus and trust among all stake­hold­ers and chart the way for­ward for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SADC de­ci­sions.

How­ever, dur­ing his of­fi­cial visit to Maseru on Tues­day this week Mr Ramaphosa, who is also the South African Deputy Pres­i­dent, agreed with Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili that the multi-stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue can only be held af­ter elec­tions “given the lim­ited time pe­riod be­fore elec­tions”.

Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesper­son, Ron­nie Mamoepa, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that the fa­cil­i­ta­tor met all stake­hold­ers “and it has been agreed that the multi-stake­holder di­a­logue can only be held af­ter the elec­tions, given the lim­ited time pe­riod be­fore the elec­tions”.

In his Tues­day pro­gramme, Mr Ramapho- sa held closedsed meet­ings with King Let­sie III, Dr Mo­sisili,i, op­po­si­tion lead­ers, the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho and the civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. s.

Mr Mamoepamoepa said “all par­ties agreed” the multi-stake­holder eholder na­tional di­a­logue should be de­ferred.d.

For his part, the Prime Min­is­ter’s Press At­taché, Mo­tumi Rale­joe said Mr Ramaphosa held a “suc­cess­ful meet­ing” with Dr Mo­sisili, “and among other is­sues I un­der­stand it was agreed eed the multi-stake­holder di­a­logue and other press­ing is­sues can be ad­dressed post-elec­tions”. ons”.

How­ever, , well-placed sources in the op­po­si­tion told thishis pub­li­ca­tion that the de­ci­sion to post­pone the he di­a­logue did not sit well with the op­po­si­tion ppo­si­tion lead­ers.

“It is pre­ma­ture ma­ture to tell you this, but as the op­po­si­tion we are not happy with h the de­vel­op­ments.

“Our stance nce re­mains – that the di­a­logue should­hould be held be­fore elec­tions to ease ase the ten­sion be­tween the gov­ern­ment ment and the op­po­si­tion; to come to­geth­ero­gether and al­lay fears that things s like in­tim­i­da­tions of op­po­si­tion ac­tivists by se­cu­rity agen­cies,” the of­fi­cial said.

ABC leader, Thomas Tha­bane e yes­ter­day ay told the Le­sotho Times that a joint state­ment by the four par­ties would “later”er” be is­sued.

ABC Sec­re­tary cre­tary Gen­eral, Sa­monyane Nt­sekelele sub­se­quently said late last night that the op­po­si­tion had not yet met to com­pile the e state­ment “due to other press­ing matters”.

The de­fer­ment er­ment came against the back­ground of gov­ern­ment re­sis­tance to the ind­aba.

Dr Mo­sisili sili ad­dressed a damn­ing let­ter to SADC Chair­man, King Mswati III, dated 5 April 2017, in which the premier ex­pressed con­cern against SADC de­ci­sions in­clud­ing the de­mand for the ind­aba.

“It is grave con­cern that I write this let­ter to Your Majesty to record Le­sotho’s strong reser­va­tions with re­gard to the con­tents of the above (COMMUNIQUE of the Ex­tra Or­di­nary Sum­mit of SADC Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment, King­dom of Swazi­land, March 18, 2017) as well as the pro­ce­dure fol­lowed in the adop­tion of the said communique.”

Dr Mo­sisili said it was com­mon cause that Le­sotho as a sov­er­eign state, “has al­lowed democ­racy to pre­vail and flour­ish by let­ting the Na­tional Assem­bly pass a “no con­fi­dence mo­tion”, and the sub­se­quent dis­so­lu­tion of par- lia­mentlia­ment in prepa­ra­tion for the gen­eral elec­tions sched­uled for 3 June, 2017. This is in com­pli­ance with the pro­vi­sions of the Le­sotho Con­sti­tu­tion and the Elec­toral Act of 2011.

“In typ­i­cal fash­ion, the hold­ing of elec­tions in all SADC states at­tracts sev­eral observer teams, in­clud­ing as observer team from SADC.

“We there­fore view with dis­dain the pro­vi­sions of para­graph 11 of the said communique which sug­gests that the ‘Fa­cil­i­ta­tor and the Over­sights Com­mit­tee’ would be charged with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to ‘ men­tor the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the King­dom of Le­sotho, dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod,’ thus al­low­ing these two SADC struc­tures to grad­u­ally gnaw into the very fab­ric of our sovereignty in our hum­ble opin­ion, the man­date of both struc­tures needs to be re­viewed so as to con­fine them within the purview of agreed pa­ram­e­ters.”

The premier raised con­cerns that Mr Ramaphosa and the Over­sight Com­mit­tee were charged with “yet an­other spu­ri­ous re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­duct a multi-stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue be­fore the elec­tion set for 3 June 2017”.

“With re­spect, we find this most un­re­al­is­tic and ab­surd. How and where on earth would any­one have time for this multi-stake­holder di­a­logue dur­ing the cam­paign pe­riod for elec­tions?

“Need we re­mind the SADC, through Your Majesty, that Le­sotho, like all SADC mem­ber states, has de­vised suf­fi­cient guide­lines in­clud­ing adopt­ing the SADC prin­ci­ples for hold­ing cred­i­ble, free and fair elec­tions, and that these guide­lines have stood the test of time.”

Dr Mo­sisili ar­gued that the prepa­ra­tions for the di­a­logue had been over­taken by the dis­so­lu­tion of par­lia­ment “and pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with ar­range­ments for gen­eral elec­tions by all stake­hold­ers”.

Con­se­quently, he said, the said multi-stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue could only take place af­ter the elec­tions.

“While we have no prob­lem with SADC en­gag­ing the new gov­ern­ment, we are un­der­stand­ably dis­ap­pointed that no men­tion what­so­ever is made of progress achieved in this re­gard. But most shock­ing is veiled threat of “the con­se­quences” for fail­ure to ob­serve time­lines im­posed on us.

“It has to be re­called, Your Majesty, that SADC is in­volved in Le­sotho strictly at our re­quest. We would plead there­fore that in or­der to ensure co-op­er­a­tion by all and at all times, the req­ui­site re­straint and deco­rum be main­tained.

“We can­not, in good con­science, al­low our sovereignty to be sac­ri­ficed for what­ever rea­son by a re­gional body of which we are found­ing mem­bers. It would be a sad day if in­deed we were to al­low the SADC to de­gen­er­ate into a body where (it) might reigns supreme. This is not the SADC we founded. This is not the SADC we would be proud to be a part of. This is not the SADC we would like to be­queath unto pos­ter­ity,” Dr Mo­sisili wrote.

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