Coalition parties blast SADC

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LPC Spokesperson Bokang Ramatšella.

LPC Spokesperson Bokang Ramatšella.

Motsamai Mokotjo

THE seven-party coalition has accused SADC of making the country “ungovernable” by dispatching South African Vice-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to engage government on the court case challenging the legitimacy of the bloc’s Commission of Inquiry.

In a press conference held in Maseru on Tuesday, spokespersons of the Democratic Congress, Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Popular Front for Democracy, Marematlou Freedom Party, Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), National Independent Party and Basotho Congress Party rallied behind Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s stance that he would not receive the SADC Commission’s report into the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao until the High Court has finalised Lieutenant-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi’s case challenging the inquiry’s legitimacy.

Lt-Col Hashatsi on 16 October 2015 filed an urgent application seeking to block the proceedings of the inquiry as he accused it, especially its chairperson, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, of bias against him. The case has since been postponed to 18-19 January 2016 due to the unavailability of a lawyer representing one of the respondents.

Because of the court application, the Phumaphi report has not been made public although it was submitted to the SADC troika on politics, defence and security comprising South African President Jacob Zuma, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and a representative of new Tanzanian President John Magufuli in Johannesburg on 5 December 2015.

The troika dispatched Mr Ramaphosa, who is also the bloc’s facilitator to Lesotho, to “expeditiously communicate the concerns of SADC to the Kingdom of Lesotho.”

Mr Ramaphosa jetted into the country yesterday and met Dr Mosisili and members of the coalition government, the opposition as well as civil and faith-based organisations, before leaving for Mozambique to brief President Nyusi.

In their statement, read by LPC Spokesperson, Bokang Ramatšella, the seven ruling parties said government would not agree to “disregard the law” by ignoring the court challenge.

“Our answer is still the same; the government of Lesotho will not be part of an attempt to release the report by a commission whose conduct is being challenged in the courts of law,” Mr Ramatšella said.

“The facilitator and SADC should tell us if they want us to disregard the courts. If the inquiry’s recommendations are revealed and the courts need to intervene, should those affected not follow suit in disregarding the courts of law?

“We regard this step by SADC (of engaging government on the court case), as a strategy to make this country ungovernable. If we refuse to comply, they will accuse us of being unruly.”

The parties further argued that the commission deviated from its core mandate by refusing to incorporate the government’s additions to its terms of reference. Dr Mosisili had suggested additions to the Commission’s terms of reference, which largely focused on his predecessor Thomas Thabane’s alleged misconduct while in office. However, Justice Phumaphi refused to incorporate the additions, saying he would only be guided by the SADC terms and that any additions should come from the bloc.

Contacted for comment, BNP Spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe said Dr Mosisili and the coalition had become Lt-Col Hashatsi’s “mouthpieces”.

“Wherever Dr Mosisili goes, he speaks on Hashatsi’s behalf. He has become Hashatsi’s spokesperson,” Mr Mofomobe said.

“However, diplomatic pressure from SADC and other bodies will ultimately make the government change its tune.”

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