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Opposition sees red over Phumaphi report


Keiso Mohloboli and ’Marafaele Mohloboli

The opposition alliance on Friday called on SADC to release the Phumaphi report without further delay and warned against tampering with the document.

Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi led a nine-member team of regional security and legal experts in probing the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao by the military outside his Mokema farm on 25 June this year.

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) claimed the General was shot while resisting arrest after being fingered as the ringleader of a foiled plot to oust the army command.

However, government decided to invite the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help establish what could have led to the shooting, hence the Phumaphi Commission which interviewed witnesses between 31 August and 23 October.

The Sunday Express understands the Botswana judge handed over the report to SADC two weeks ago, but the document has not yet been made public. SADC has not said why the report remains a secret while government maintains this is due to an on-going High Court case instituted by Special Forces commander Lt-Col Tefo Hashatsi—one of several people interviewed by the probe team—challenging the Commission’s right to investigate the shooting.

However, the opposition coalition comprising the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP), and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), is now demanding the immediate release of the report.

Addressing the media in Maseru on Friday afternoon, BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo said the opposition was aware the Phumaphi report had been handed over to SADC hence their demands that it be released “unabridged and unedited”.

“Previous SADC reports such as Judge Pius Langa’s of 1998 relating to this country’s political crisis, came doctored and edited. The result has been continued problems that Lesotho remains mired in to this day. We urge SADC to tell Basotho the truth and let them deal with it,” Chief Molapo said.

Chief Molapo also said SADC must stand firm that it owns the report and as a result, should not be subject to any legal processes.

The BNP deputy leader further accused government of discrediting the commission’s investigations and delaying the report’s publication through court processes “that seek to protect the interests of criminals who murdered Lt-Gen Mahao”.

He added: “We call upon SADC to ensure the arrest of those identified in the report as conspirators or co-conspirators in the death of Lt-Gen Mahao.

“People of Lesotho want full accountability from all those responsible both for the death of Mahao and other criminal actions identified by the commission.

“The government of Lesotho has been stirring anti-Phumaphi sentiments through various actions. It is therefore, essential that SADC is aware this government has no genuine desire to identify the killers of Lt-Gen Mahao. Furthermore, the government is also on record as saying they will consider the findings of the commission as advisory and not binding.”

Chief Molapo also spoke about opposition leaders who have been living in exile in South Africa since May this year.

ABC leader and former prime minister Thomas Thabane, BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and RCL leader Keketso Rantšo  fled the country after claiming some LDF members were out to kill them.

“We are still worried about the safe return of our exiled leaders as this would be an essential step in bringing real peace and stability to Lesotho,” Chief Molapo said.

RCL deputy leader, Motloheloa Phooko, also spoke about the need to ensure the Phumaphi report is released as a matter of urgency.

“Should the report not come out, there will never be a solution to security and political instability in Lesotho,” Dr Phooko said.

ABC deputy leader, Tlali Khasu also called for the immediate release of the report and warned of the consequences of its continued delay.

“The opposition has every right to be concerned about this delay because despite SADC’s efforts to help, a mere report of (SA deputy president) Cyril Ramaphosa’s facilitation is not yet out.

“You will  all remember that Basotho were promised this report in March this year, but we are prepared to do everything in our power to ensure that the Phumaphi report is released.

“Every society is in constant motion and we have options should the report not be tabled as it should be. The people are ready to take up arms and fight oppression.”


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