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ABC hits out at SADC


. . . calls on regional bloc to see through implementation of inquiry’s recommendations

Bereng Mpaki

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has hit out at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for not taking the government to task over its alleged failure to implement recommendations of the Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi-led Commission of Inquiry.

Lesotho’s largest opposition party has also criticized the regional bloc after the government reportedly admitted that it could not meet Friday’s deadline to submit a report detailing the progress it has made in implementing the recommendations aimed at addressing the country’s political and security challenges.

SADC requested the progress update ahead of the bloc’s Double Troika Summit set for Gaborone, Botswana on 28 June 2016.

Botswana (SADC chair), Mozambique (SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chair), South Africa, Tanzania, Swaziland and Zimbabwe heads of state and government will attend the summit.

ABC Secretary-General Samonyane Ntsekele yesterday told the Sunday Express the government was conveniently taking advantage of the lack of enforcement by SADC in the implementation of the recommendations.

“As ABC, we are not surprised that the government has not been able to implement the SADC decisions from the Double Troika summit of 19th January, 2016.

“It has been our view for some time that the current government is conniving with the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to resist accountability for the heinous crimes committed by several of its members,” he said.

“We feel the key to the implementation is for SADC to demonstrate more willingness to see its recommendations through.

“So far, we have witnessed a number of meetings where SADC has been discussing the implementation of those recommendations, but there were no institutional structures put in place to support the recommendations.”

One of the support mechanisms discussed in some of the SADC meetings, Mr Ntsekele said, was the establishment of an oversight committee to facilitate the implementation.

“Such a committee has still not been set up.”

He said the ABC was still hopeful the 15-member bloc would find a way to push Lesotho into action, “since the SADC recommendations held the key towards a peaceful and stable Lesotho”.

The Phumaphi commission was instituted by SADC at the instigation of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to probe the fatal shooting of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao by his colleagues on 25 June 2015 outside Maseru, allegedly while resisting arrest for suspected mutiny.

Among the Phumaphi commission’s key recommendations was the dismissal of LDF commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli and the suspension of all army officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason while investigations into their cases proceed.

The Commission also recommended that the government should ensure the safe return of exiled opposition leaders — former prime minister and ABC leader Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo — who fled to South Africa in May 2015 saying they feared assassination by LDF members. The army has since rebuffed the opposition leaders’ claims.

Mr Ntsekele said SADC’s inaction would continue to stall the reform process in Lesotho and leave the country mired in political instability.

“The government has made no progress to date, and it is not surprising that they failed to submit a progress report on Friday,” he said.

“They did not have anything to report on, and whatever they will submit will be a desperate attempt to convince SADC they are making progress.”

Mr Ntsekele added: “The longer it takes for the SADC recommendations to be implemented, the longer it takes for my leader to return from exile.

“The delay in the implementation of the recommendations will also stifle economic development in the country. We now risk losing the support of our international donors, which all has the potential of hurting Basotho through the loss of jobs.”

Further delays, the secretary-general said, would also ensure Lesotho continued to be a talking point at SADC summits.

“We are awaiting the implementation of the recommendations, because we believe they will bring about normalcy in our country since Lesotho continue to hog the limelight at SADC summits.”


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