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Ramaphosa appoints SADC facilitators to Lesotho

…former SA Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke heads team which includes three deputy ministers

Keiso Mohloboli

SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed former South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the mediation team of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) peace facilitation process to Lesotho.

The mandate of the SADC mediation team is to help Lesotho to achieve stability as well as implement the constitutional, security sector, judicial, governance and media reforms that were recommended by SADC in 2016.

A statement issued by the South African presidency said that Justice Moseneke will lead a 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).

“President Ramaphosa has appointed Justice Moseneke as the Leader of the Mediation Team consisting of three Deputy Ministers, namely Mr Mohamed Enver Surty, Ms Makgabo Regina Mhaule and Ms Ellen Molekane,” part of the statement from the South African Presidency states.

Mr Ramaphosa was further said that Justice Moseneke’s experience and expertise in constitutionalism would assist the SADC facilitation process which is aimed at assisting Lesotho to achieve lasting peace and instability through among other things, the implementation of multi-sector reforms.

“I take this opportunity to thank Justice Moseneke for availing himself to support us in this important mandate as we continue to assist our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of Lesotho in their search for a lasting and sustainable solution to their political and security challenges,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

The appointments are in line with the outcomes of April 2018 SADC Double Troika Summit in Luanda, Angola where it was agreed that Mr Ramaphosa should continue as the SADC facilitator to the Lesotho political dialogue and reform processes and appoint a high-profile personality to assist him.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane recently alluded to the appointments when he told the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication on Wednesday that Mr Ramaphosa had sent correspondence to his office indicating that he was on the verge of announcing a team to assistant him in the facilitation process.

“Only this week my office received a correspondence from President Ramaphosa that he will soon announce the name of the high profile candidates to support his facilitation to Lesotho,” Dr Thabane said on Wednesday.

On the same day, Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, told the Lesotho Times that Mr Ramaphosa had already appointed the team to support his facilitation in Lesotho and all that was left was to officially inform the government of Lesotho before an official announcement was made.

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

In addition, a confidential report prepared by SADC ahead of the deployment of the SADC Standby Force to Lesotho on 2 December 2017 revealed that the government was not happy with Mr Ramaphosa continuing as the SADC facilitator to Lesotho and it wanted him to be replaced.

While the Thomas Thabane-led ruling coalition was said to be unhappy with Mr Ramaphosa, the report revealed that opposition parties were in favour of retaining him as facilitator.

“There have also been divergent views regarding the continued role of the Facilitator in that the government expressed the need to find a replacement while the opposition is in favour of retaining the current Facilitator but to be assisted by a mediator preferably a Basotho national,” reads part of the document titled ‘Draft Integrated Mission Plan for the Deployment of the Contingent Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho’.

And while the report does not elaborate on the reasons for the government’s position, sources have claimed that the governing parties believe Mr Ramaphosa has previously sided with the parties now in opposition by allegedly overlooking serious security threats posed by the army in the past.

Mr Ramaphosa was appointed to facilitate the restoration of peace and stability in Lesotho after the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Dr Thabane.

During that event, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) stormed various police stations and seized arms they claimed were to be used against civilians at a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) rally that same weekend.

The raids claimed the life of Police Sub-inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko. Former LDF commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, is in court over the killing.

Mr Ramaphosa also facilitated the Maseru Security Accord in 2014 which led to external deployments of Lt-Gen Kamoli his then successor Maaparankoe Mahao and former Police Commissioner Khothatso T?oana pending the holding of the February 2015 snap elections. The move was aimed at fostering the restoration of cordial relations between the army and the police.

Lt-Gen Mahao was assassinated shortly after those elections. The All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP), who had been booted out of power, complained that the killing was a result of Mr Ramaphosa failing to address serious security concerns in the country. The leaders of the two parties had by then already fled into exile fearing for their lives.

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