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Govt denies SADC deadlines


Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Government has dismissed as “misleading leaked information” a Southern African Development Community (SADC) document outlining deadlines Lesotho is supposed to meet regarding Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi’s report into the country’s security and political challenges.

The document says “in the event that there is no progress, SADC would consider convening a Double Troika Summit to deliberate on the issue”.

The Double Troika comprises Botswana (SADC chair), South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Justice Phumaphi was tasked by SADC to lead a 10-member Commission of Inquiry into Lesotho’s instability following the fatal shooting of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao. Lieutenant-General Mahao was killed by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) outside his Mokema home on 25 June 2015, allegedly while resisting arrest for suspected mutiny.

After the probe, which took place between 31 August and 23 October 2015, Justice Phumaphi made some recommendations to the government regarding the Kingdom’s challenges.

According to the SADC document titled, ‘Record of a meeting on the political and security situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho- Maputo, Mozambique, 25th February 2016’, the summit in question agreed that Lesotho would undertake the following:

  • Submit to the SADC Secretariat the report of the Commission of Inquiry to be published by the secretariat with an explanation on why it differs from the original report, and reasons for any variance. Submission of the report to the secretariat by the Kingdom of Lesotho should be done with immediate effect and not later than Friday 4 March, 2016.
  • Immediately implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and submit a progress report thereof on each recommendation with a clear roadmap and timelines, in line with the decisions of the 18th January 2016 SADC Double Troika Summit. The progress report should be submitted by Friday, 4 March 2016.
  • Finalise the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) on the safe return to the Kingdom of Lesotho of all exiled Basotho, that include provision of security to the former Prime Minister and other opposition leaders. This process should be finalised by Friday, 4 March 2016.
  • Submit a roadmap with timelines on the implementation of constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms in line with the decisions of the 18th January 2016 SADC Double Troika Summit. The roadmap should be submitted by 31st March, 2016.

The document further says the Lesotho government was represented in the Maputo meeting by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Tlohang Sekhamane, Defence and National Security Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi, Police Minister Monyane Moleleki and Foreign Affairs and International Relations Principal Secretary ’Mathoriso Monaheng.

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi hosted the meeting in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The document also says Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Oldemiro Baloi and SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax attended the meeting.

The document further reads: “The Deputy Prime Minister reported that the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho tabled the report of the SADC Commission of Inquiry in parliament on 8 February 2016, and has started benchmarking with other countries in relation to constitutional, public sector and security reforms; and has considered to provide security to the former Prime Minister (All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane) and other exiled opposition leaders ( Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho Keketso Rantšo) so as to facilitate their safe return.

“The chairperson assured the Kingdom of Lesotho of SADC’s continued commitment to support the Kingdom of Lesotho. He also expressed appreciation for the report given on progress made towards the implementation (of) the SADC recommendations, and emphasised the importance of confidence-building, credibility of SADC, as well as timely communication and information-sharing between the government of Lesotho and SADC, particularly with the SADC secretariat. In conclusion, the chairperson stressed that in line with the 18th January SADC Double Troika Summit decisions, in the event that there is no progress on the above issues, SADC will consider convening a Double Troika Summit to deliberate on the matter.”

Asked by the Sunday Express about the document during a press conference held in Maseru on Friday, Mr Metsing said: “It should be understood that this matter must be handled with care. This is one of the issues which brought us, as a country, to where we are today because issues are not being said the way they are.

“Even there (Mozambique), when I was before President Nyusi, I explained to him that we have noticed that there are some issues between the office of SADC and our responsible office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations where we find that the two offices report the same issues differently.

“We agreed in that meeting that we should not hear about our issues from other people. This issue of deadlines is not true. We didn’t talk about deadlines there. I don’t know where you (the Sunday Express) got that, but I think it’s misleading leaked information. Surely you didn’t get that information from the SADC website or the government of Lesotho website. But if that is the case, we will ask them (SADC). I repeat there was no deadline given to us. That on its own, after all, could break the good spirit in which this matter is being discussed between us and SADC.”

Mr Metsing said the government had agreed to send the published report to SADC after it had emerged that “some people went there and claimed the report had not been published. We agreed with Dr Lawrence Tax that indeed there was lack of information-sharing between us and her office”.

The deputy premier further said SADC noted that it could only publish the report which the government of Lesotho had released.

“And we told them the report was the same, only that we have expunged names off it. They said they wanted our report anyway, just to make sure that they do not publish a different report from what we have published here,” Mr Metsing said.

For his part, Mr Sekhamane said: “I just want to assure you that the report which the government of Lesotho tabled before parliament (on 8 February 2016) is already in the hands of SADC, which means there is no need to talk about deadlines now.”

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