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Opposition plots SADC summit strategy



BNP Deputy Leader Joang Molapo
BNP Deputy Leader Joang Molapo

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

LEADERS of the tripartite opposition bloc are today expected to meet to finalise “a comprehensive report” to be submitted to South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa for presentation at the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Mbabane, Swaziland next week.

According to Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader Joang Molapo, the opposition’s report would be presented at the summit scheduled for 29 – 31 August 2016 by Mr Ramaphosa, who is also SADC’s facilitator to Lesotho.

Although Chief Molapo would not be drawn to divulge details of the report in an interview yesterday, the Sunday Express has learnt through impeccable sources that, among others, the opposition leaders would have to explain “in detail” why they fled the country and remained in exile in South Africa.

Former premier and All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo fled the country in May 2015 claiming they had been alerted of a plot to kill them by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), an allegation the military has categorically denied.

The SADC double troika summit held in Gaborone, Botswana, in June 2016, mandated Mr Ramaphosa to facilitate the opposition leaders’ return after they maintained their stance they would only return if army commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli is removed from the helm of the LDF.

According close sources, during a meeting between the opposition leaders and Mr Ramaphosa in Pretoria last week, one of the prerequisites set out by the facilitator was for the leaders to give details, in writing, of a “threat posed on them by the army in Lesotho”.

“Mr Ramaphosa requested them to furnish him with a detailed report of the threat posed on them by the army or whoever is threatening them,” said the source.

Chief Molapo was, however, coy on the purported prerequisites, saying: “The report we will be finalising tomorrow is about a range of issues we have discussed with Mr Ramaphosa in Pretoria. It is a comprehensive report about key issues from the position of the opposition parties in Lesotho. The report will form part of Mr Ramaphosa’s presentation during the summit.”

Chief Molapo also said they had promised Mr Ramaphosa to submit the report before the summit began during his visit to Maseru on Friday.

During his visit, the SA deputy president held several closed-door meetings with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his coalition partners, opposition parties, the family of the slain former LDF commander Maaparankoe Mahao, civil society organisations, chiefs and the Christian Council of Lesotho.

Mr Ramaphosa also paid a courtesy call on King Letsie III before leaving the country on the same day.

Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, told the Sunday Express yesterday the facilitator visited the country to meet with all the relevant stakeholders as part of preparations for the SADC summit.

“The deputy president, as you would recall, was mandated by the SADC double troika summit which was held in Gaborone, Botswana, in June this year, to act on the issue of facilitation of the return of exiled political leaders, as well as implementation of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry recommendations in respect of constitutional and security sector reforms.”

Mr Mamoepa would also not be drawn to mention any other details about Mr Ramaphosa’s visit.

On behalf of civil society organisations, Lesotho Council of Nongovernmental Organisations Director, Seabata Motsamai, said Mr Ramaphosa gave them feedback about his task to facilitate the return of opposition leaders from exile and the government’s progress in implementing the SADC Commission of Inquiry recommendations.

He said civil society organisations would also compile their “consolidated position” to Mr Ramaphosa for presentation during the summit.

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