SADC lays terms for Lesotho

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. . . bloc wants ‘concrete milestones and deliverables’ on reforms

Pascalinah Kabi

LESOTHO will need to present a roadmap on the implementation of multi-sectoral reforms with “concrete, clear milestones and deliverables” to a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Double Troika Summit scheduled for tomorrow.

SADC also expects the Mountain Kingdom to recommend the extension of the tenure of the Oversight Committee (OC) for 18 months to continue monitoring and assisting the implementation of the reforms.

For its part, the government of Lesotho says it is ready to table its report to the regional bloc and is committed to the reforms.

The SADC Double Troika Summit will be held tomorrow in Pretoria, South Africa ahead of the 37th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

The Double Troika Summit is composed of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Angola. It is mandated with providing member states with direction regarding threats to peace, security and stability in the region.

Top of the summit’s agenda list is Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo in light of recent political and security challenges in the two countries.

It will also be the first summit for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his four-party coalition government since clinching power after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.

The elections had temporarily halted the reforms process Lesotho had embarked on in 2016 at the instigation of SADC.

The reforms encompass the security, constitutional, security, media and public sectors with the objective of attaining lasting peace and stability.

SADC recommended the reforms after its Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana probed the causes of Lesotho’s perennial instability between 31 August and 23 October 2015.

The Commission of Inquiry had been established at the behest of then premier Pakalitha Mosisili after the 25 June 2015 fatal shooting of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, by his erstwhile colleagues.

Lt-Gen Mahao was fatally shot by his erstwhile LDF colleagues on 25 June 2015 who claimed he had resisted arrest for suspected mutiny. However, the Phumaphi Commission concluded that the LDF’s case against Lt-Gen Mahao and other alleged mutineers was “highly suspect”.

It also recommended the government to investigate the killing and prosecute those found to be responsible.

SADC also established a 10-member Oversight Committee in July 2015 to monitor the implementation of its decisions regarding the political and security situation in Lesotho

The committee was also tasked with providing assistance in the implementation of constitutional, security and public sector reforms in Lesotho.

The Lesotho Times is in possession of a copy of the SADC Double Troika Summit’s agenda which prioritises a review of the political and security situation in the region.

It notes that SADC Facilitator to Lesotho Cyril Ramaphosa and the Oversight Committee had been advised by stakeholders in Lesotho to conduct a multi-stakeholder national dialogue after the elections and the inauguration of the new government.

The multi-stakeholder national dialogue is meant to create a framework for implementing security, constitutional, media and public service reforms.

Last week Mr Ramaphosa, who is also South African vice-president, visited Lesotho to hold meetings with members of the government, leaders of opposition parties, the college of chiefs and civil society stakeholders.

Mr Ramaphosa was accompanied by SADC Oversight Committee on Lesotho chairperson, Retired Justice Frederick Wereme, in the meetings that were meant to chart a way towards the full implementation of the reforms.

During the summit, the Oversight Committee will present a draft proposal for conducting a multi-stakeholder national dialogue in Lesotho in addition to its final report.

The committee was last deployed in Lesotho from 2 to 11 June 2017 and engaged stakeholders in the country from 2 to 6 June 2017 regarding the implementation of the reforms process.

The SADC Double Troika Summit will also incorporate the outcomes of an Extraordinary Defence Sub Committee meeting held on Tuesday.

Among the decisions the summit will make on Lesotho is to urge the Dr Thabane-led government to “expedite the implementation of the SADC decisions including the constitutional parliamentary, judicial, public and security sector reforms”.

The government of Lesotho will be expected to “present a roadmap on the implementation of the overall reforms with concrete clear milestones and deliverables at the next summit in 2017”.

The summit will also look to the government of Lesotho to recommend the extension of the tenure of the Oversight Committee for 18 months “in conformity within the compilation of the Double Troika”.

Communications Minister Joang Molapo yesterday told this publication the government was ready to table a report on the “milestones achieved so far”.

“We are fully aware of the things SADC is expecting from us, and they include what we inherited from the past government and what came out of the discussions we held with SADC since we took over the reins,” Chief Molapo said, adding that the bloc was expecting a clear roadmap and exact dates for the reforms.

“All these issues will not pose a challenge for us as the government and we are ready to table our report. You will remember that the summit was preceded by consultative meetings and the government is committed to these reforms.”

Efforts to contact the leader of the opposition in parliament, Mathibeli Mokhothu, were fruitless yesterday as his mobile phone rang unanswered.

Meanwhile, a delegation of local civil society organisations attending the SADC People’s Summit has vowed to lobby other stakeholders from the region to call for Lesotho to implement the Phumaphi Commission recommendations.

The SADC People’s Summit was expected to begin yesterday until tomorrow in Johannesburg, South Africa ahead of the 37th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government.

Led by the Development for Peace Education, the delegation is made up of civil society organisations and representatives of the transport industry, street vendors and women.

Among the issues they will lobby for is a solution to the ongoing cross border taxi wars between Lesotho and South African operators and the restoration of the rule of law in Lesotho.

 

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