A DELEGATION of local civil society organisations attending the Southern African Development Community (SADC) People’s Summit has vowed to lobby other stakeholders from the region to call for Lesotho to implement the Phumaphi Commission recommendations.
The SADC People’s Summit will be held on Wednesday to Friday this week in Johannesburg, South Africa ahead of the 37th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government scheduled for 19 – 20 August 2017 in Pretoria.
The SADC Peoples’ Summit is a project of the Southern Africa Peoples’ Solidarity Network which started in 2006 in Lesotho to ensure an organised participation of ordinary citizens in issues affecting the region by discussing and sharing information.
It is held annually and prior to the SADC heads of states summits, with the expectation that its recommendations are incorporated in the SADC summit communique.
In August last year, seven wives of detained and exiled Lesotho Defence Force members lobbied the regional bloc to intervene in the “suffering” of their husbands during the SADC People’s Summit in Manzini, Swaziland.
This year’s SADC People’s Summit will held under the theme “Rebuilding People to People’s Solidarity – Rebuilding Hope and Resistance in the Region.”
The delegation of local civil society organisations will be headed by the Development for Peace Education (DPE).
The non-governmental organisation’s Peace Education Researcher, Mosala Mokutlulo, recently told the Sunday Express the delegation would be made up of civil society organisations and representatives of the transport industry, street vendors and women.
Among the issues they will lobby for is a solution to the ongoing cross border taxi wars between Lesotho and South African operators and the restoration of the rule of law in Lesotho.
“The rule of law in this country has deteriorated since 2014 and we need to start taking the right direction towards restoring it,” Mr Mokutlulo said.
The recent arrests of suspects in the killing of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng, he said, were such steps in the right direction.
“Allowing the wheels of justice to turn is one of the tools we need to use to restore rule of law in Lesotho. But it shouldn’t end with suspects in the Khetheng issue,” said Mr Mokutlulo.
“There are a number of people within the army suspected of committing various crimes and they should also be tried in the courts of law.”
He said the delegation would also urge the delegation to call for an inclusive reforms process.
The 25 June 2015 killing of former LDF commander Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao by his erstwhile colleagues resulted in the establishment of a SADC Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana.
Among its recommendations was that government should investigate the killing and prosecute those found to be responsible. It also recommended constitutional, security and public sector reforms to bring lasting peace and stability.
The 6 March 2017 dissolution of parliament after the 1 March 2017 no-confidence vote on the Pakalitha Mosisili-led government put on hold the multi-stakeholder reform process the country had started in 2016 at the instigation of SADC.
The 3 June 2017 elections resulted in a four-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
“The past government sang the same old song that they were going to implement the reform process but never did and this current government seem to be singing the same old song. We need SADC to force government to implement the reforms practically, and not theoretically,” Mr Mokutlulo said.
Last Wednesday, SADC Facilitator to Lesotho and South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the Mountain Kingdom to hold meetings with members of the government, leaders of opposition parties, the college of chiefs and civil society stakeholders.
The meetings were meant to chart a way towards the full implementation of SADC decisions on constitutional and security sector reforms.
Mr Mokutlulo also said the delegation would lobby for environmental compliance within the mining sector.