‘Government’ slams Ramaphosa facilitation

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…submits damning report of his mediation to the African Union 

Letuka Chafotsa

GOVERNMENT’S report submitted to the African Union Summit held in Ethiopia last week, was highly critical of the way South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been facilitating the country’s return to stability.

The report was presented by Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader Joang Molapo, whose party formed a coalition government with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) after the 26 May 2012 general election had resulted in a hung parliament.

The report — which has since been disowned by the LCD leadership, whose fallout with ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane over his “dictatorial tendencies” led to a snap election on 28 February —condemns Mr Ramaphosa for choosing to ignore some critical issues that led to the country’s current political and security crises.

The report, a copy of which the Lesotho Times has obtained, reads: “The report of the SADC Facilitator to Lesotho, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, has elaborated to the Double Troika Summit, the process followed to date in attempting to resolve the political impasse in the Lesotho.

“Mr Ramaphosa’s efforts are deeply appreciated by the Government and people of Lesotho, but a number of issues appear in the (SA) Deputy President’s report that the Government of Lesotho would wish to elaborate further on in the hope that they will assist the Double Troika-plus-Two to develop a more complete understanding of the ongoing development of events within Lesotho,” the report read.

Outlining why Mr Ramaphosa was invited to Lesotho in the first place, the report notes: “The SADC Heads of State and Government are invited to recall that the Double Troika Summit was convened in Pretoria, South Africa, on 15 September 2014 following the escalation of tension and deterioration of the security situation in the Kingdom that culminated in an attempted coup on 30 August 2014.

“The Summit was briefed on the situation in the country following the MCO Troika plus Zimbabwe assessment visit to Lesotho undertaken from 2-5 September 2014.  As a consequence of the assessment visit, it was recommended among others, that a Facilitator be appointed who would assist Lesotho address underlying issues that led to the political impasse, as well as the deterioration of the security situation.  The Facilitator was given clear and explicit Terms of Reference and began his work immediately thereafter.

“An important point to make is that at the time of the appointment of the Facilitator, in September 2014, the Lesotho Parliament was prorogued. The Instrument of Prorogation was issued in May 2014, in line with the Lesotho Constitution by His Majesty the King acting on the advice of the Prime Minister.  The set period of the prorogation was nine months and Parliament was expected to resume on 27 February 2015.  In the political arena, this was the main point of contention of the opposition political parties who wished to have the Parliament immediately reopened.

“It is therefore misleading and legally incorrect to refer to the prorogation of Parliament as an abnormal situation when the Lesotho Parliament had been prorogued on previous occasions and when prorogation and the process for implementing it are set out in the Lesotho Constitution.  It is acknowledged that the period of nine months is longer than previously practiced although it is within the timeframe allowed by the Lesotho Constitution.”

According to the report, although Government continued to insist that security issues were at the heart of the political impasse, the Facilitator, “with the support of many stakeholders in Lesotho” was largely keen on addressing political issues.

“The Government of Lesotho, following the roadmap set out by the Facilitator, agreed to remove the prorogation of Parliament and move for its quick reopening.  In return for this concession, it was agreed that Parliament would sit to address issues only relating to the holding of elections while all the political parties agreed to return to the public to seek fresh mandates.

“The second session of the Eighth Parliament of Lesotho was opened by his Majesty King Letsie III on 17 October 2014 in the presence of the SADC Facilitator. In his address to the nation, His Majesty called upon the political leaders to respect and abide by the Constitution of Lesotho, and observe and implement the undertakings of the Maseru Facilitation Declaration.

“Notwithstanding the above, when a dispute arose between the Prime Minister and a Minister from one of the parties in the Coalition Government that ultimately resulted in the dismissal of the said Minister, the Facilitator did nothing to facilitate adherence to the Constitution and laws of Lesotho.

“The Minister in question refused to accept his dismissal and make public pronouncements to that effect.  The Army, at the behest of the political opposition, refused to withdraw VIP security from the home and person of the former Minister. The army facilitated access of the former Minister to state resources and in-fact, added to his security detail in direct and public defiance of the Government.  The charade of the former Minister carrying on indifferent to the wishes of the King and Prime Minister continued to the extent that he returned to Parliament, sat on the Government frontbench and tried to answer questions in Parliament relating to his former Ministry six weeks after his dismissal. The Facilitator refused to publically pronounce himself on this issue or to undertake any action to rein in the excesses of the Army.”

The government also takes issue with Mr Ramaphosa’s handling of the dispute between the police and army.

“By the time the Facilitator reached Maseru to undertake his work, the relationship between the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) had deteriorated to the extent where open armed conflict could potentially arise between the two. The following factors had directly contributed to the breakdown of their relationship:

  • A number of Basotho youth were murdered in Mafeteng district. Evidence in possession of the police implicated soldiers in this event. The army refused to make the soldiers available to the police for questioning.
  • A bombing and shootings occurred at the residence of the Prime Minister’s consort. Investigations done in consultation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) indicated that military explosives and ammunition had been used in the attack.  The Army refused to allow the suspected officers to be questioned.
  • The homes of Commissioner of Police (Khothatso) Tšooana and then Brigadier General (Maaparankoe) Mahao were attacked, once again using army ammunition. None of the suspects in these incidents have been made available to the Police.
  • On the evening of 30 August 2014 during the coup attempt, the Army surrounded police stations in Maseru. A police officer was killed when the Army attempted to seize documents and case files from the police repository.”

The report further notes following numerous attempts to “bring the Army under the rule of law” and insisting that it was essential that the LDF hands over those suspected of criminal deeds, the Prime Minister “felt it necessary” to remove Lt Gen Kamoli as LDF commander and replace him with Lt Gen Mahao.

“It is this decision that precipitated the coup attempt of 30 August 2014,” the report notes.

Mr Ramaphosa, the report adds, “persuaded government that the situation may be improved if new personalities were put in charge of the Police and Army”.

It continues: “Although no evidence of wrongdoing could be attributed to Police Commissioner Tšooana or Lt Gen Mahao, they were reluctantly sacrificed in the interests of encouraging positive change within the Army.  Police Commissioner Tšooana has been deployed to Algeria;  Lt General Mahao has been sent to South Sudan while Lt General Kamoli remains in South Africa where he is in close proximity and able to maintain close links with senior officers.

“His nominated replacement refuses to accept the title of Acting Commander and refers to himself as Deputy Commander, thereby making it clear to the rank and file that Lt General Kamoli should still be considered the legitimate Army Commander.

“The teambuilding and interactions that the Facilitator has engaged the Police and Army into have produced some positive benefits insofar as reducing tensions between them. However, the process is unlikely to gain widespread acceptance by the Police in particular until action is seen to be taken against those members of the Army suspected of criminal activities.”

The government also complains that Mr Ramaphosa had not done anything while the Electoral Pledge, which all parties taking part in the upcoming elections, signed, was being violated.

“The pledge includes a commitment to adhere to the election code of conduct, the Maseru Facilitation Declaration and Maseru Security Accord.

“One of the undertakings in the Election Pledge was for the Government to refrain from making senior appointments into the Public Service, Judiciary or Security Services.  On Thursday 22 January 2015, the Government announced the appointment of the new President of the Court of Appeal and the new Deputy Police Commissioner. Both of these decisions were taken by Cabinet months in advance of the signing of the Election Pledge.  The decision of the Facilitator to raise these issues with the Government privately and most unfortunately in public, seeks to create the impression that these appointments are against the letter and spirit of the Election Pledge.”

The government also complains that Mr Ramaphosa had not addressed the army’s relationship with the Prime Minister.

“While efforts to improve the working relationship between the Police and the Army continue and appear to be yielding some tangible results, the relationship between the Government and the Army continues to be tense.  Meetings between the Acting Army Commander and the Prime Minister/Defence Minister have now stopped as the Army continues to neither abide by legitimate instructions issued by the Prime Minister or to desist from political utterances and holding clandestine meetings with opposition political leaders, most particularly former Prime Minister and Democratic Congress leader Pakalitha Mosisili and Deputy Prime Minister and LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing.”

The government is also not convinced that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is ready to hold credible elections.

“The IEC continues to insist that it will deliver free and fair elections on 28 February 2015, but is evasive on the following issues that relate directly to the credibility of the elections:

  • The size and integrity of the voters’ role. Countries in the SADC region with similar populations to Lesotho, e.g. Namibia and Botswana have proportionality smaller voters’ rolls than Lesotho.  Many deceased people remain on the Lesotho voters’ roll but the IEC remains unwilling or unable to deal with this problem.
  • The IEC has insufficient funds to establish 3000 polling stations in the country. Historically, Lesotho has been faced with a problem of accessing remote areas having the highest voting percentages.
  • No campaign funding has yet been made available to the parties.”

The report is also critical of South Africa’s dominance of the SADC mission in Lesotho.

“The current composition of the SADC facilitation with the Republic of South Africa as the sole representative of SADC has turned the facilitation from a multilateral to a bilateral one.  The historical, economic and social linkages between Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa make it difficult for the Facilitator to remain impartial on all issues presented before him.

“The reticence and reluctance of the Facilitator to fully deal with the prevailing situation within the Army raises questions about the ability of the Government post-elections to deal with the same issues that currently define the relationship with the Army.

“The Facilitator is raising a voice solely on those issues where it appears the Government might be at fault.  The delinquent behaviour of the opposition, LCD Ministers and the Army is ignored.”

In conclusion, the government has recommended the following: that Mr Ramaphosa continues with his facilitation but his efforts be augmented by other regional partners; in the remaining weeks leading up to the elections, serious effort be put into resolving outstanding security issues within the Army; SADC’s monitoring be extended for at least three months beyond the elections.”

Contacted yesterday on the report, and whether it was truly representative of the entire government, considering it comprises three parties — LCD, BNP and ABC — which have divergent views on the Lesotho crisis, Chief Molapo told the Lesotho Times:“ Look, we formed the coalition government with the LCD, ABC and BNP in 2012. When parliament was dissolved, the ABC had 28 seats, BNP had five, while the LCD had 26 seats. So if one was to take the ABC and BNP seats only, they constitute the majority of the government, which is why that report is the position of the majority.”

The LCD, on the other hand, has dismissed the report, with the party’s Acting Secretary, Tšeliso Mokhosi telling the Lesotho Times: “That is not the position of government but that of the ABC and BNP. In this coalition government, the LCD is part of the government and was not represented in the report.

“The LCD is satisfied with the way the facilitator is conducting himself, not because Mr Ramaphosa is doing what we, as the LCD wanted, but because we can see that he has sought to strike a balance so that there is peace and stability in Lesotho.”

 

 

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