AFRICAN Union (AU) leaders will only decide whether or not to extend the tenure of the SADC Preventative Mission in Lesotho (SAMPIL) and the SADC Oversight Committee after receiving a report from the latter committee in October this year.
This was said yesterday by the visiting AU Peace and Security Council chairperson Susan Sikaneta.
The 15-member AU Peace and Security Council has a mandate to promote peace, security and stability on the African continent. It is in the country to get firsthand information regarding the political and security situation in Lesotho as well as an appreciation of the activities of SAMPIL, its progress and challenges in the implementation of its mandate.
Ms Sikaneta said the mission had the added responsibility mandated to add political weight to the SADC efforts to expedite the implementation of the multi-sector reforms aimed at achieving stability in Lesotho.
Her remarks follow the recent 38th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Windhoek, Namibia where the regional leaders announced that the tenures of the SADC Oversight Committee and SAPMIL would end in November.
A communique issued at the end of the two-day summit stated the regional leaders “urged the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to put in place a programme with clear milestones for the implementation of priority activities on the reforms roadmap and national dialogue, while recognising that the SAPMIL tenure ends in November 2018, a report of which, is to be submitted to the (SADC) chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation by 30 October 2018”.
Last week, SADC sources told the Lesotho Times that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane issued an impassioned plea to the SADC heads of state to extend the SAPMIL mandate by a further three months.
However, his pleas were rejected by the SADC leaders who instead told the premier that it was high time Lesotho put its house in order and implemented the multi-sectoral reforms to achieve durable peace and stability in the Kingdom.
But the tenure of SAPMIL could still be extended after Ms Sikaneta said a final decision on the future of the two committees in Lesotho will be taken by AU leaders after receiving a report from the SADC Organ on Politics.
“Of course, the question was raised that the SAMPIL mandate may end by November this year but I must say that the SADC heads of state have not declared so,” Ms Sikaneta said.
All they (SADC leaders) are hoping for is to receive the (SADC Oversight Committee) report on the state of things in Lesotho by 30 October and they will look at that report and determine whether or not the mandate should be renewed. So that is an issue that is still pending and depending on how things move between now and October. We cannot say that the mandate is going to end because it is up to the leaders to say so,” Ms Sikaneta said.
She said their tour had enabled them to appreciate firsthand some of the challenges experienced by SAPMIL that included lack of technical equipment to discharge their functions.
“We have taken this up (the issue of equipment) and we will make sure that we give to SAMPIL what they need to assist this country better in terms of preserving security and peace.”
She said the AU Peace and Security Council had observed that there Lesotho still needed to address the challenges of polarisation and politicisation of the civil service and other key state institutions.
She said the country needed to have clearly defined roles and mandates for the Lesotho Defence Force, Lesotho Mounted Police Service and the Lesotho Correctional Service.
“We have agreed with all the stakeholders that this should be done because once we have all clear roles, everybody will know what they are expected to do and there will be no overlapping and stepping on each other’s toes,” she said, adding they would soon prepare a report for the consideration of the AU leaders.