Govt in the dark over SADC facilitator

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE government says it is in the dark as to when former South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and his team will begin work after their appointment to the mediation team of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) peace facilitation process in Lesotho.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Justice Moseneke to lead the 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).

Despite the appointment of the Justice Moseneke-led team more than a month ago on 15 June, the government still does not know when they will start work.

Foreign Affairs and International Relations minister Lesego Makgothi this week told the Lesotho Times that it was “still not clear when he (Justice Moseneke and his team) shall be in the country to start work”.

“Justice Moseneke and his team’s role is to facilitate and oversee the multi-sector reforms processes. They should also oversee the implementation of the reforms roadmap and ensure that the timelines for the reforms are observed.

“How the reforms are going to be run is entirely up to Basotho people. The reforms will only be facilitated but not run by SADC as it is for Basotho to decide on the Lesotho they want.”

SADC gave Lesotho until May 2019 to have fully implemented constitutional and security sector reforms.

However, the reforms process has stalled largely as a result of the constant bickering between the government and the opposition over the latter’s demands for the establishment of a government of national unity and an end to the prosecutions of army officers suspected of human rights violations among other things.

So far the only tangible developments with regards to the reforms process have been Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s speech in parliament to formally launch the reforms and the holding of the National Day of Prayer for the reforms early last month.

A government roadmap that was presented to the SADC heads of state in Angola in April this year indicated that the National Leaders’ Forum and the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) would have been convened and launched two months ago.

Mr Makgothi last week told the Lesotho Times that the National Leaders’ Forum will get underway on 16 August this year.

He said this would be preceded by a “pre-national leaders’ forum” which has been tentatively set for 1 and 2 August to work on the modalities for the National Leaders’ Forum.

It had been expected that the appointment of Justice Moseneke and his mediation team would breathe life into the reforms process as they would be hands-on and assist South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

There had been concerns that Mr Ramaphosa who has been the SADC 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.

However, a month and half since their appointment, Justice Moseneke and his team are yet to start work.

Justice Moseneke refused to say when he would be heading to Lesotho when the Lesotho Times recently phoned him for comment on the issue.

He said he and his team were still to decide when they would come to Lesotho and an announcement would be made in due course.

Mr Makgothi said Justice Moseneke’s experience and expertise in constitutional affairs would come in handy and help Basotho to move forward with the reforms process.

“There ought to be progress on the constitutional and security reforms by October this year in line with the SADC recommendations. We should be at least half way through with changing some of the laws which are causing the country instability.

“The reforms process could be a year and half long process or even 30 months and during this time, Justice Moseneke will be doing his facilitation chores.

His (Justice Moseneke’s) experience and expertise in constitutionalism will assist the SADC facilitation process to achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho,” Mr Makgothi added.

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