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Judge Moseneke begins Lesotho assignment

…the former SA Deputy Chief Justice prioritises achieving peace and constitutional changes in Lesotho

Herbert Moyo

NEWLY-APPOINTED head of the mediation team of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) peace facilitation process in Lesotho, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, will finally make his long-awaited visit to Lesotho on Friday.

Justice Moseneke revealed this at a media briefing on Friday in Pretoria, South Africa.

The former South African Deputy Chief Justice said that while he was not making any concrete promises ahead of beginning his Lesotho assignment, he would however, work to “find peace and stability, proper governance and hopefully the constitutional changes that Basotho themselves will want to see happening”.

The announcement of Justice Moseneke’s visit comes a few days after the Foreign Affairs and International Relations minister, Lesego Makgothi, told the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication that the government was in the dark as to when Justice Moseneke and his team will begin work in Lesotho.

Justice Moseneke also refused to say when he would be heading to Lesotho when the Lesotho Times recently phoned him for comment on the issue.

He said he and his team were still to decide when they would come to Lesotho and an announcement would be made in due course.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Justice Moseneke to lead the mediation team which also comprises of three South African deputy ministers, namely, Mohamed Enver Surty (Basic Education ministry), Makgabo Regina Mhaule (International Relations and Cooperation) and Ellen Molekane (State Security).

Despite the appointment of the Justice Moseneke-led team more than a month ago on 15 June, the team had still not visited Lesotho or publicly outlined their plan of action to help achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho.

Mr Makgothi said that part of the Justice Moseneke-led team’s mandate is to facilitate and oversee the multi-sector reforms processes. They should also oversee the implementation of the reforms roadmap and ensure that the timelines for the reforms are observed.

SADC gave Lesotho until May 2019 to have fully implemented constitutional and security sector reforms.

However, the reforms process has stalled largely as a result of the constant bickering between the government and the opposition over the latter’s demands for the establishment of a government of national unity and an end to the prosecutions of army officers suspected of human rights violations among other things.

So far the only tangible developments with regards to the reforms process have been Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s speech in parliament to formally launch the reforms and the holding of the National Day of Prayer for the reforms early last month.

A government roadmap that was presented to the SADC heads of state in Angola in April this year indicated that the National Leaders’ Forum and the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) would have been convened and launched two months ago. These action plans have still not be carried out.

And on Friday, Justice Moseneke expressed optimism that that appropriate solutions would be found for the political and security challenges besetting the Kingdom of Lesotho.

“I will be going out to Lesotho on Friday and I will paying courtesies on His Majesty the King (Letsie III), the Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane), the cabinet, security structures and various other structures of SADC which already are deployed in Lesotho including a small military force there,” Justice Moseneke said.

“I have been appointed by President Ramaphosa to be his special envoy and to come into his shoes as the facilitator in the conflict in the Kingdom of Lesotho. I will be the leader of the team and I have been informed over and over again that the leadership in Lesotho are very welcoming of the appointment and are looking forward to receiving me.

“So that’s really what it is. It’s about going out there to try and find peace in the Kingdom, to try and facilitate constitutional amendments and to return to normality at the behest and the request of SADC. Our president (Ramaphosa) is the one who plays the role (of facilitator) and I’m acting in his place and stead to try and achieve those outcomes in relation to the Kingdom of Lesotho.”

Last week, Mr Makgothi expressed confidence in Justice Moseneke, saying that his experience and expertise in constitutional affairs would come in handy and help Basotho to move forward with the reforms process.

“There ought to be progress on the constitutional and security reforms by October this year in line with the SADC recommendations. We should be at least half way through with changing some of the laws which are causing the country instability.

“The reforms process could be a year and half long process or even 30 months and during this time, Justice Moseneke will be doing his facilitation chores.

“His (Justice Moseneke’s) experience and expertise in constitutionalism will assist the SADC facilitation process to achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho,” Mr Makgothi added.

And on Friday, Justice Moseneke said that “those who have appointed me, starting with SADC heads of state, our own president (Ramaphosa) and the leadership of Lesotho all welcome my appointment”.

“That is why I’m doing this (facilitation) because everybody thinks that I will able to add value and I think we should try and continue to find appropriate solutions.

“I’m humbled by the appointment. I’m making no promises at this stage but we have to find peace and stability, proper governance and hopefully constitutional changes that Basotho themselves will want to see happening.

“So we are facilitators nothing more. We are not replacing any of the authority of the people of Lesotho. We are going there to try (and help achieve stability). Beyond that I have no views. I will have to formulate how best to try and resolve this particular assignment,” Justice Moseneke further said.

The appointment of Justice Moseneke and his mediation team is expected to breathe life into the stalled reforms process as they would be hands-on and assist President Ramaphosa.

There had been concerns that Mr Ramaphosa who has been the SADC facilitator since 2014 might find it difficult to remain as effective as the facilitator after assuming the presidency of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in December 2017 and that of South Africa in February this year.


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