Why govt made U-turn in Botswana

Lesotho Times - - News - Staff Re­porters

SADC’S threat to sus­pend Le­sotho was the rea­son why the govern­ment fi­nally de­cided to ac­cept the Phumaphi re­port, the Le­sotho Times has learnt.

prime Min­is­ter pakalitha Mo­sisili had re­fused to ac­cept the doc­u­ment dur­ing the re­gional body’s Dou­ble Troika sum­mit in Gaborone on Mon­day, re­port­edly cit­ing Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo hashatsi’s high Court case chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of Jus­tice Mpa­phi phumaphi’s in­quiry.

The Com­mis­sion of In­quiry was re­quested by Dr Mo­sisili but was as­sem­bled and funded by SADC to es­tab­lish the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of for­mer army com­man­der Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot dead by his mil­i­tary col­leagues on 25 June 2015 just out­side Maseru, and Jus­tice phumaphi and his 10-mem­ber team con­ducted their probe be­tween 31 au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber. The com­mis­sion sub­mit­ted its re­port to the SADC Or­gan on pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion last month, which how­ever, ex­pressed “con­cern” over Lt-col hashatsi’s case and govern­ment’s an­nounce­ment that it would only ac­cept the phumaphi re­port af­ter the mat­ter had been fi­nalised.

This week’s meet­ing in Gaborone was con­vened to dis­cuss this stale­mate, but the Le­sotho Times un­der­stands Dr Mo­sisili main­tained that his govern­ment would only re­ceive the re­port af­ter the hashatsi case had been con­cluded by the courts.

how­ever, af­ter the sum­mit re­solved to sus­pend Le­sotho and pub­li­cise the re­port, Dr Mo­sisili is said to have had a change of heart and de­cided to take the re­port.

SADC Or­gan on pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion chair­per­son, Mozam­bique pres­i­dent Filipe nyusi told re­porters in Ma­puto on Tues­day that he re­ceived a phone call from SADC chair­per­son, Botswana pres­i­dent Ian Khama, in­form­ing him of Le­sotho’s new po­si­tion.

“We were very dis­ap­pointed with the Le­sotho au­thor­i­ties,” Mr nyusi said. “They were re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate with SADC in a mat­ter of their own se­cu­rity”.

Mr nyusi said af­ter the sus­pen­sion threat, the Le­sotho govern­ment con­tacted Mr Khama on Tues­day morn­ing and said it would now re­ceive the re­port.

Mr nyusi fur­ther said Mr Khama con­tacted him on the lat­est de­vel­op­ment.

“Le­sotho of­fi­cials will meet with us again in a cou­ple of weeks,” Mr nyusi said.

Mean­while, the Botswana me­dia claims pres­i­dent Khama “rep­ri­manded” Dr Mo­sisili dur­ing Mon­day’s meet­ing for al­legedly ar­riv­ing at the sum­mit late and re­fus­ing to take the re­port.

Dr Mo­sisili al­legedly ar­rived “in the af­ter­noon” when he was sup­posed to meet the six re­gional lead­ers — Mr Khama (SADC chair), Mr nyusi, pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of South africa, Swazi­land prime Min­is­ter Barn­abas Sibu­siso Dlamini, Tan­za­nia prime Min­is­ter Ma­jaliwa Ma­jaliwa, and Zim­babwe For­eign affairs Min­is­ter Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi — at 10am.

“When he ar­rived, the sum­mit had been moved to an­other con­fer­ence where the lead­ers were now mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to the SADC heads of State. Upon ar­rival, Mo­sisili tried to en­ter the room where the lead­ers were and was im­me­di­ately in­formed to go and wait in an­other room.

“at that time, pres­i­dent Khama, who was chair­ing the meet­ing, wanted Mo­sisili not to be al­lowed to come in as he had ear­lier re­fused to meet them,” one of the re­ports notes.

It was only af­ter South african pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma had “per­suaded” Mr Khama to al­low Dr Mo­sisili in that the premier en­tered the con­fer­ence room.

“Khama, who is known for his straight talk, is said to have told Mo­sisili that he should not waste their time as he was the one who re­quested the com­mis­sion and as such, must ac­cept the re­port,” an­other me­dia out­let noted.

Ex­plain­ing Le­sotho’s new stance, Botswana’s Min­is­ter of For­eign affairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, Dr pelonomi Ven­son-moitoi, told a me­dia con­fer­ence yes­ter­day: “prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili agreed to ac­cept the re­port yes­ter­day (Tues­day) and this changed the com­plex­ion of the sit­u­a­tion.

“The Troika had ear­lier rec­om­mended ei­ther the ex­clu­sion or sanc­tion of Le­sotho on SADC ac­tiv­i­ties af­ter they re­fused the re­port on Mon­day. Mosilili is sup­posed to share the re­port with other con­cerned par­ties, es­pe­cially the op­po­si­tion, within 14 days.

“af­ter Mo­sisili agreed to ac­cept the re­port, pres­i­dent Khama in­formed other mem­bers of the Troika about the de­vel­op­ment, who then ap­pre­ci­ated it.

“If Le­sotho had not ac­cepted the re­port, SADC was go­ing to make it pub­lic but since they have changed their minds, the Le­sotho govern­ment will make it pub­lic.

“One of the rea­sons why SADC was not happy with Le­sotho’s po­si­tion not to ac­cept the re­port was be­cause they have spent a lot of money and re­sources on the coun­try.”

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