Metsing speaks on SADC report

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Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing

Keiso Mohloboli

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing yesterday said the Phumaphi report would be tabled before the National Assembly on 8 February as promised by the government.

SADC had given Lesotho until Monday this week to publish the report put together by a team of regional security and legal experts led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi.

Justice Phumaphi was tasked by SADC to investigate the death of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao at the hands of the military on the afternoon of 25 June 2015.

After the investigation, the Botswana judge compiled a report of his commission’s findings but the government had said it would not receive the document because of a court case by Lieutenant-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi challenging the probe’s legality.

But after Lesotho was threatened with suspension from the regional body because of his refusal to take the report and make it public, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili finally bowed down to pressure and brought the document home from a SADC Double Troika summit held in Botswana on 18 January.

However, Mr Metsing met with SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chairperson, Mozambique president Filipe Nyusi and an unnamed representative of SADC chairperson, President Ian Khama of Botswana, on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit held last Saturday in Ethiopia and asked that government be allowed to table the report in parliament on 8 February and not publish it on 1 February as initially directed by the regional bloc.

Mr Metsing yesterday said the report would be tabled in the National Assembly on Monday next week, “unless reasons to stop it unexpectedly come up.”

Mr Metsing said he was shocked that some Basotho were happy about Lesotho’s possible suspension from SADC because of the report.

“I was really shocked by some Basotho who were applauding the possible suspension of Lesotho from SADC. Those people did not realise that if the suspension happened, it was going to affect all of us and that reaction made me conclude that some of our people are ignorant,” he said.

The deputy premier said it was important for Basotho to understand why a country could be suspended SADC.

“In most instances, nations get suspended from SADC because of unconstitutional governance and in the case of Lesotho, there is nothing like that. The government of Lesotho took a fair position and indicated that it respects the rule of law and will wait for the case that is currently in court,” he said.

“Taking a stand did not ruin the smooth and warm relations between the government of Lesotho and SADC. The government of Lesotho and SADC are still working together and the relations are still very good.”

Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Tlohang Sekhamane also said relations between SADC and Lesotho were still cordial.

“The relationship between SADC and the government of Lesotho has never been sour. Everything has been fine and we would like to urge people to stop making baseless allegations that the relationship is no longer good,” Mr Sekhamane said.

“If Lesotho can be suspended from the African Union or SADC, it will be a very sad day for our country, and such a development can never be something to be happy about.

“We cannot be happy when we lose such things as the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact the way others were saying.”

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