THE tripartite opposition bloc yesterday submitted a catalogue of demands to SADC facilitator to Lesotho Cyril Ramaphosa which, among others, calls for the removal of the Lesotho Defence Force command and arrest of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao’s killers.
Dubbed “Memorandum of Concerns”, the petition was submitted to Mr Ramaphosa who yesterday jetted into the country 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 Filipe Nyusi who is the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
In a press briefing held after the meeting, Tlali Khasu, Joang Molapo and Motloheloa Phooko who are the deputy leaders of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) respectively, said the petition was meant to “restore normalcy, peace and stability” in Lesotho.
Dr Phooko, who read out the document, said Mr Ramaphosa, who is also South African vice-president, promised to submit it to Mr Nyusi.
According to the “Memorandum of Concerns”, SADC had failed to rein in the “glaringly horrendous” crimes committed by state agents “at the connivance of the rulers”.
“SADC has neither been able to halt, as it instructed on 3 July 2015, the Court Martial until the completion by the Commission of its task. “Continuing with the courts-martial has meant the continuation of torture for the mutiny suspects,” the petition notes.
“The government of Lesotho has maintained a narrative in public that it has agreement with SADC to continue the courts-martial and SADC has not denied this. SADC has not responded to any of several letters addressed to it by the three opposition parties who are the complainants.”
The parties call on SADC to, not only release the Commission of Inquiry’s report, but to “assure Basotho that it has the capacity and will to enforce both its treaty and the recommendations of the (Justice Mpaphi) Phumaphi commission.
“At the minimum, SADC should assist Lesotho with the following actions:
- “Temporarily (six to 12 months) replace the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) command with SADC command to eliminate politicisation and restore normalcy and promote professionalism;
- Arrest all LDF officers involved directly and indirectly in the killing of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao;
- Arrest all civilians and politicians involved directly and indirectly in the killing of Lt Gen Mahao;
- Arrest everyone involved directly or indirectly in the planning and executing a coup d’état of 2014;
- Temporarily replace Lesotho Mounted Police Service command with SADC police command to eliminate politicisation and restore normalcy and promote professionalism in the police service;
- Restore the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary by severing the channel of influence and intimidation on the judiciary. Remove both the Director of Public Prosecution (Leaba Thetsane (King’s Counsel)) and Attorney General (Tšokolo Makhethe), both whom are politically biased and undermine people’s faith in justice.”
Chief Molapo said following his visit to Lesotho, Mr Ramaphosa was supposed to meet with Mr Nyusi and give him feedback on the meetings he had with the government, opposition, Mahao family and other stakeholders.
“Mr Ramaphosa told the opposition that members of the government told him to his face that they won’t accept the SADC Commission report before the judgement of the court case,” said Chief Molapo.
“He (Mr Ramaphosa) said the government did not want to hear what the SADC constitutional and law experts had to say about the issue, but insisted that the commission’s recommendations were not prosecutable and could be blocked by domestic laws.”
The BNP deputy leader said Mr Ramaphosa had intimated that it was up to Mr Nyusi to decide whether to release the report or not in the context of the (Lieutenant-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi’s court challenge) court case judgement or call for an Organ Troika summit to decide on the way forward.
“Mr Ramaphosa also promised to come back soon to update us on the way forward because the SADC constitutional and law experts that were with him told him that Hashatsi had no right to sue the SADC commission of inquiry,” Chief Molapo said.