Govt en­gen­der­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

IT can never be over-em­pha­sised that any gov­ern­ment must do ev­ery­thing in its power to en­gen­der pub­lic con­fi­dence and it would ap­pear that the four party coali­tion is go­ing out of its way to do just that.

The new gov­ern­ment came to power in the af­ter­math of the 3 June 2017 snap elec­tions.

The gov­ern­ing par­ties’ pre-elec­tion prom­ises cen­tred on the ob­ser­va­tion of the rule of law as well as im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi-led SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry that was set up in the af­ter­math of the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao in 2015.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was fa­tally shot by his col­leagues on 25 June 2015 just out­side Maseru. The Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) sub­se­quently an­nounced LtGen Ma­hao was re­sist­ing ar­rest when he was killed, which the fam­ily has dis­missed as un­true.

The Ma­hao fam­ily ac­cused the army of killing him in cold blood bas­ing on the ac­count of his neph­ews who were with him dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

The 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion car­ried out its in­ves­ti­ga­tions between 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015 and rec­om­mended, among other things, that gov­ern­ment should in­ves­ti­gate the killing and pros­e­cute those found to be re­spon­si­ble.

The pre­vi­ous Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led ad­min­is­tra­tion was ac­cused of drag­ging its feet in im­ple­ment­ing the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions which in­cluded in­ves­ti­gat­ing his killing and pros­e­cut­ing of those found to be re­spon­si­ble.

How­ever, the new gov­ern­ment has shown a de­ter­mi­na­tion to bring the mat­ter to fi­nal­ity and as we re­port else­where in this edi­tion, the Ma­hao fam­ily is con­fi­dent that jus­tice will fi­nally be done.

The fam­ily said this af­ter a re­cent meet­ing with De­fence Min­is­ter, Sen­tje Le­bona, who also wanted to re­turn the late Lt-gen Ma­hao’s per­sonal be­long­ings which were still in the army’s pos­ses­sion.

We also re­port is an­other un­re­lated de­vel­op­ment that Po­lice and Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter, ‘Mam­pho Mokhele, re­vealed that gov­ern­ment re­called twen­ty­one po­lice of­fi­cers be­cause the pre­vi­ous regime did not fol­low the proper pro­ce­dures when it fired them.

The of­fi­cers were re­called to work on 19 July, 2017 fol­low­ing a di­rec­tive by the-then Act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Keketso Mon­a­heng.

They were fired from the po­lice ser­vice by em­bat­tled po­lice com­mis­sioner, Mo­lahlehi Let­soepa al­legedly for var­i­ous of­fences rang­ing from mis­con­duct to par­tic­i­pat­ing in po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Speak­ing this week on the 21 of­fi­cers, Ms Mokhele said they were re­called be­cause proper pro­ce­dures were not fol­lowed when fir­ing them.

“I am not say­ing the of­fi­cers are not guilty but I am of the view that proper pro­ce­dures were not fol­lowed when they were dis­missed from the ser­vice.

“They must be given an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to charges lev­elled against them and let the jus­tice sys­tem find if they are guilty or not,” Ms Mokhele said.

This is just as it should be that pro­ce­dures must be fol­lowed. Ac­cused peo­ple must be given an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond and the ac­cusers have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of prov­ing their case beyond rea­son­able doubt.

It is there­fore en­cour­ag­ing to see the gov­ern­ment pur­su­ing such steps, first in seek­ing to re­solve a long-stand­ing issue which has at­tracted in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and se­condly by fol­low­ing the cor­rect pro­ce­dures with re­spect to the po­lice of­fi­cers’ case.

There is still a lot that needs to be done to en­sure Le­sotho fi­nally be­comes a na­tion that is syn­ony­mous with the rule of law.

Con­sti­tu­tional, ad­min­is­tra­tive and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms need to be fully im­ple­mented as rec­om­mended by SADC.

The scourge of cor­rup­tion must be tack­led and elim­i­nated from all spheres of pub­lic life.

But given such small but highly sig­nif­i­cant ac­tions, gov­ern­ment has started down the road of build­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in its abil­ity to walk its talk.

It is cer­tainly re­fresh­ing to re­port such pos­i­tive news.

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