SAD SADC meets ove over Ma­hao rep re­port

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane and Keiso Mohloboli

The SADC troika on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion chaired by Mozam­bique Pres­i­dent Felipe Nyusi, is ex­pected to meet in Botswana next week to dis­cuss Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi’s re­port on Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity, among other is­sues.

Jus­tice Phumaphi led a 10-mem­ber Com­mis­sion of In­quiry en­dorsed by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mur­der of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao by his mil­i­tary col- leagues.

Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao was killed on 25 June 2015 just out­side Maseru dur­ing an army op­er­a­tion to ar­rest sol­diers sus­pected of be­ing part of an al­leged plot to topple the LDF com­mand.

He had had been fin­gered as the rin­gleader of the sol­diers in­volved in the al­leged mutiny, with the mil­i­tary later an­nounc­ing Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot while re­sist­ing ar­rest.

Soon af­ter the killing, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili asked SADC to help es­tab­lish the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the shoot­ing, re­sult­ing in the Phumaphi-led com­mis­sion.

how­ever, de­spite com­plet­ing its probe on 23 Oc­to­ber 2015, and sub­mit­ting its find­ings to the re­gional bloc last month, the Phumaphi re­port has not yet been made pub­lic af­ter one of the peo­ple in­ter­viewed by the Com­mis­sion, Lt-col Tefo hashatsi chal­lenged its le­gal­ity in the high Court. The case con­tin­ues in the high Court on 18-19 Jan­uary 2016 and govern­ment has since said it would only re­ceive the Phumaphi re­port when Lt-col hashatsi’s chal­lenge has been fi­nalised.

Al­though SADC has ex­pressed con­cern over the court case, govern­ment has re­fused to budge on its stance re­gard­ing Lt-col hashatsi’s chal­lenge. Lt-col hashatsi on 16 Oc­to­ber 2015 filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing to block the in­quiry as he ac­cused it of bias against him.

The Spe­cial Forces com­man­der al­leged in his court pa­pers this bias was clear dur­ing his first ap­pear­ance be­fore the com­mis­sion on 17 Septem­ber 2015 when Jus­tice Phumaphi sug­gested he par­tic­i­pated in the killing of Lt-gen Ma­hao.

how­ever, the Le­sotho Times es­tab­lished yes­ter­day that the SADC troika com­pris­ing Mr Nyusi, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of South Africa, and Tan­za­nia Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli would be meet­ing at the SADC sec­re­tar­iat in Gaborone on Mon­day to dis­cuss the way for­ward re­gard­ing the re­port.

SADC ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Lawrence Ster­gom­ena Tax yes­ter­day con­firmed Mon­day’s meet­ing but would not give any de­tails.

“The troika meet­ing will be on Mon­day, 18 Jan­uary 2016, in Botswana but I can­not dis­close the agenda be­cause it is con­fi­den­tial,” Ms Tax told the Le­sotho Times.

But sources close to the mat­ter told the Le­sotho Times that the Phumaphi re­port would top the agenda in Mon­day’s meet­ing.

“Judge Phumaphi’s re­port is the main rea­son why the meet­ing has been con­vened. This sum­mit fol­lows the one held in Sand­ton, South Africa, last month, where the re­port was sub­mit­ted to the SADC troika, but was not dis­cussed,” said the source.

It was at the 6 De­cem­ber 2015 meet­ing in Sand­ton that the troika man­dated the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor in Le­sotho, South African deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, to “ex­pe­di­tiously com­mu­ni­cate the con­cerns of SADC to the King­dom of Le­sotho,” re­gard­ing Lt-col Hashatsi’s case.crit­ics be­lieve the court case is just a ploy to frus­trate SADC and de­lay the re­lease of the re­port, many be­lieve could help re­store sta­bil­ity to Le­sotho.

Re­peated ef­forts to seek a com­ment from the Le­sotho govern­ment on next week’s sum­mit were un­suc­cess­ful yes­ter­day.

the late maa­parankoe ma­hao.

Jus­tice mpa­phi Phumaphi.

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