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Basotho should ‘own’ reforms: Analysts

by Sunday Express
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’Marafaele Mohloboli/ Pascalinah Kabi

VARIOUS experts and political analysts have called for the involvement of all local stakeholders in the implementation of reforms, saying Basotho needed to take ownership of the process to ensure its success.

This came out of debates on the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) recommendations for wide-ranging constitutional, governance, administrative and security sector reforms to ensure lasting stability in Lesotho as a precondition for socio-economic development.

The debates were held at the Transformation Resource Centre in Maseru on Friday.

SADC established a 10-member commission of inquiry headed by retired Botswana judge Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi at the behest of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in the wake of the June 2015 killing of former LDF commander, Maaparankoe Mahao.

The SADC Commission, which carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015, subsequently made several recommendations aimed at achieving lasting harmony in the Mountain Kingdom.

Among the recommendations was the removal of the now retired army commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli to restore Basotho’s trust in the LDF, criminal investigations into the death of Lt-Gen Mahao leading to prosecution, constitutional and security sector reforms.

The reform process however, stalled in the run-up to the snap elections that were held on 3 June this year and ushered in the four party coalition government comprising of Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, the Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.

They replaced the former seven parties’ regime that was headed by Democratic Congress leader, Pakalitha Mosisili who was deputised by Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader, Mothetjoa Metsing.

Prior to the June polls, all the major parties, including those in the opposition signed a commitment to the implementation of reforms regardless of whether or not they won the elections.

In his contribution to the Friday debate, Professor Francis Kopano Makoa said while Lesotho needed SADC’s support, it had to take ownership of the implementation process.

“If at all Lesotho is to realistically embark on the reforms as outlined by the SADC recommendations, it surely can’t walk this journey alone,” Professor Makoa said, adding it would be futile to focus on the reforms to the exclusion of the challenges that “brought about the SADC Commission and its recommendations”.

He said the establishment of the SADC Oversight Committee was a clear sign that Lesotho needed support to address its challenges.

The 10-member SADC Oversight Committee was established in July 2015 to monitor the implementation of the regional bloc’s decisions regarding the political and security situation in Lesotho

The committee was also tasked with providing assistance in the implementation of constitutional, security and public sector reforms in Lesotho.

Professor Makoa however, said the reforms to be inclusive and Basotho had to take ownership and not rely entirely on SADC.

Khosi Makubakube, the Secretary General of the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), said there was no point in resuming the implementation of the reforms in the absence of the necessary political will as well as a national readiness to “own” the entire process.

“When are we going to own this process of the reforms and why even start on something which we are not going to own, Mr Makubakube asked, adding, “We can seek (external) support but there should be a political will”.

He also queried who would “watch the watchdog as those who are in power are angry and so are those who have been toppled”.

“The hunter has now become the hunted,” he added.

Another participant, Sam Letima, said the reforms should be inclusive so that “even the refugees can return home safely knowing that they are protected by legislation”.

For his part, AD representative, Batlokoa ’Makong, said having national dialogue was meaningless as long as the country continued to ignore the recommendations of previous dialogues.

“If we still haven’t taken stock of the past recommendations we are surely going to repeat the same mistakes and we cannot have transparent and inclusive reforms.

Our leadership must undergo a paradigm shift and be truthful. We simply can’t have a dialogue without having truth and reconciliation. We cannot implement the reforms without knowing the causes,” Mr ’Makong said.

Meanwhile, ‘Mamolemo Lefoka, a wife to one of the exiled soldiers has vowed to do everything it takes to obtain justice against those who persecuted her husband and family.

She said she was prepared to go as far as International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure that justice was served for her husband.

Twenty-two soldiers, who were accused of plotting to overthrow the army command, fled the country between 2014 and 2015 while another 23 were detained and charged with mutiny.

The 23 have since been put on “open arrest.”

Ms Lefoka narrated her ordeal, including being forced out of the state-owned property they lived in two days after her husband fled. She said there was an urgent need to address the human rights violations against the exiled soldiers, adding she would not rest until justice was served.

Ms Lefoka said she was one of luckiest wives of the soldiers because she was working, charging that “some are going through far worse situations than me” because of human rights violations against their husbands.

“Let the law take its course. I am going to sue the men. I will sue and I will not be intimidated by anyone. I am prepared to go as far as the ICC to plead my case. Crimes were committed and perpetrators must pay,” she said.

She added: “It is important to include them (exiled soldiers) in the reforms process because some of them had bank loans and when their salaries were cut, we incurred huge interests and now the question is, who is supposed to pay the interests?”

Ms Lefoka said she did not want any favours to settle her husband’s loans but that those who persecuted him should be held responsible.

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