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Govt ready to implement Phumaphi recommendations

 

 

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

DEPUTY Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing discussed government’s plan to implement Justice Phumaphi’s recommendations regarding Lesotho’s instability during his weeklong visit to Mozambique and Botswana, the Sunday Express can reveal.

Mr Metsing first met with Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi in his capacity as SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chairperson and later SADC chairperson and Botswana President Ian Khama to outline government’s roadmap regarding the recommendations.

According to an African Press Agency (APA) report, Mr Metsing told reporters after meeting President Nyusi in Maputo he had come to give an update on what Lesotho was doing regarding Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi’s findings and recommendations.

“We came to thank President Nyusi in his capacity as the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and to update him on what is happening in Lesotho. We also came here to tell him what we are doing in Lesotho in compliance with the recommendations of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lesotho, and show him the route for implementing the report. Lesotho has been one of the problematic countries within SADC and we are working hard to remove the country from this list,” APA quoted Mr Metsing as saying.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) commissioned Justice Phumaphi to lead a 10-member team of legal and security experts in probing Lesotho’s security and political challenges following the fatal shooting of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao. Lieutenant-General Mahao was killed outside his Mokema home on 25 June last year by his colleagues who had come to arrest him for suspected mutiny. The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) said soon after the tragedy that Lt-Gen Mahao was killed while resisting arrest.

However, in their report, Justice Phumaphi and his team dismissed the LDF claims “on a balance of probabilities” and made several recommendations to address Lesotho’s instability, which prompted three opposition leaders—All Basotho Convention leader and former prime minister Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšso—to seek refuge in South Africa in May last year after claiming they had uncovered a plot to kill them by the military. Among the commission’s recommendations was the dismissal of army commander Tlali Kamoli “in the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the Lesotho Defence Force to the Basotho nation”.

The commissioners also noted some of Lesotho’s political and security problems were due to the country’s constitution, adding: “The deficiencies and overlaps in the constitution with regard to the mandates of security institutions need to be looked into urgently with a comprehensive strategy to reform them”.

Repeated efforts to seek a comment from Mr Metsing, who went on the tour on behalf of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, proved fruitless yesterday. Police Minister Monyane Moleleki, who was part of Mr Metsing’s delegation, was also not available for comment yesterday.

However, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Motumi Ralejoe, yesterday confirmed Friday’s  return of Mr Metsing and his delegation but would not be drawn to give details of what transpired during the tour.

Mr Ralejoe said: “The deputy prime minister’s trip was shuttle diplomacy. In such a mission, it is advised that government should not tell the media what was being discussed. But this is a situation where leaders of one country can decide to visit their fellow leaders to discuss their plans about an issue of concern.

“For instance, the deputy prime minister and his delegation could have gone to Mozambique and Botswana to present Lesotho’s plan on a certain issue. He is there to make our friends aware of the steps the country intends to take on a particular matter. In other words, he could be trying to lobby them so that in the next formal meeting, our friends can understand Lesotho’s plan on that issue.”

Meanwhile, the SADC Double Troika comprising the leaders of Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Swaziland last month urged the Lesotho government to implement Justice Phumaphi’s recommendations.

However, Dr Mosisili told parliament when he tabled the commission’s report on 8 February that its recommendations were not binding. Dr Mosisili emphasised that government would only implement those recommendations it considered “implementable”—an announcement analysts suggested could set Lesotho on a collision course with the regional body, which established the Phumaphi commission at the prime minister’s request.

Dr Mosisili’s decision to delete certain parts of the commission’s report because of security concerns was also not received well by certain sections of society, particularly opposition parties whose Members of Parliament walked out of the legislature in protest, while the prime minister was tabling the document.

 

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