Ramaphosa to close SADC mission
. . . as security chiefs remain in limbo
SOUTHERN African Development evelopment Community (SADC) facilitator tator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa, willll tomorrow officially close the bloc’s technicalnical mission in Maseru with the fate of thee exiled security chiefs still uncertain, the Sunday Express has established.
The SADC Observer Missionssion in Lesotho was deployed in Lesotho too restore political stability after the 30 Augustst 2014 invasion of Maseru Central, Police ce Headquarters and Ha-Mabote Police Stationtion by members of the Lesotho Defence Force rce (LDF), which former Prime Minister Thomas homas Thabane had described as a coup attempt.ttempt.
The raid, which left one Lesotho Mounted Police Service member dead, triggered a chain of unsavoury events s that led to the collapse of the coalition government and intervention by SADC in an effort to avert a complete breakdown of the he rule of law in the country.
In an interview with the Sunday Express on Friday, Head of SADC mission in Lesotho, Fannie Phakola said Mr Ramaphosa would officially bring to a close the regional bloc’s intervention in Lesotho tho in a ceremony to be attended by Prime e Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
“We will be shutting downwn shop in Lesotho on Tuesday but Mr Ramaphosa maphosa will be here on Monday to officially y close down the office,” Mr Phakola said.
“A ceremony will be held at the SADC offices in which remarks wouldld then be made by Mr Ramaphosa,sa, Prime Minister Mosisilii and SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax.”
Speculation has been rife that Mr Ramaphosa would bring with him the LDF’s Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao as well as Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana from South Africa.
The trio were sent on a leave of absence in line with the Maseru Security Accord (MSA) which was signed on 23 October 2014 to restore peace between the agencies whose tiff nearly plunged the country into a civil war. This was mainly due to personality clashes between Commisioner Tšooana and Lt Gen Kamoli.
The absence of the trio was also meant to ensure peace prevails in Lesotho in the run-up to the February 2015 snap election — a result of the Maseru Facilitation Declaration also brokered by SADC on 2 Octo- ber 2014 through Mr Ramaphosa.
Asked on whether the South African deputy President would also bring the security chiefs with him, Mr Phakola said he would not specul speculate on the issue, saying it was better to w wait for Mr Ramaphosa to give an official ann announcement.
“I don’t want to speculate because the return of those s security officials has not been officially ann announced. Among the reasons Ntate Ramap Ramaphosa will be coming is to chart the way for forward with the new government on bring bringing back those officials,” he said.
Contacted for c comment yesterday, Government SecretarySecretar Moahloli Mphaka said Mr Ramaphosa’s closing of SADC’s mission to Lesotho w was also expected to include the issuing of the timeframe for the return of the thre three security officials “even though it doesn’t necessarily mean they would return on Monday”. “The SADC facilitator Mr Ramaphosa’s schedulesche entails officially handing over SADC business in Lesotho back to the newly-elected governmentgove and charting the way for forward on the return of Lt Gen Ma Mahao, Lt Gen Kamoli and CommissionerCommi Tšooana,” Mr MphakaMphak said.
On t their part, Lt Gen Mahao and Commissioner Tšooana told the Sunday Express yesterdayyest they remained in limbolim on when they would returnret home.
According to both Lt Gen Mahao and COMPOL Tšooana left Lesotho under the auspices of SADC and are still waiting for the regional bloc heads of states and relevant stakeholders to “show the way on when we can come home”.ho The duo added that they were oriented by their army and police training to obey commands made by their superiors. As a result, they would wait until they are told to come back home by SADC and the government of Lesotho.
SouTh africa Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.