Sadc Chair steers Lesotho peace process

Morris Mkwate recently in Tshwane, South Africa

A Sadc-appointed Commission of Inquiry will investigate the killing of Lesotho’s former defence forces commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, which has ignited fresh political turmoil in the Mountain Kingdom.

African Union and Sadc Chair President Mugabe shares a joke with South African President Jacob Zuma at the Sadc Double Troika Summit on Lesotho in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday night — Picture: Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo
African Union and Sadc Chair President Mugabe shares a joke with South African President Jacob Zuma at the Sadc Double Troika Summit on Lesotho in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday night — Picture: Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo

An independent pathologist is to conduct an examination by Monday in addition to an Oversight Committee working to detect signs of further instability and trigger early intervention.

The 13-member Commission of Inquiry will be headed by a Botswana court judge and should report to the Sadc Double Troika within 60 days of Friday’s Double Troika Summit.

African Union and Sadc Chair President Mugabe was key in securing these outcomes, which emerged at the end of seven hours of deliberations in Tshwane, South Africa.

Brig Mahao was shot dead by his former subordinates on June 25, 2015 while allegedly resisting arrest on a charge of mutiny.

He was at the centre of an apparent battle of loyalties between Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his predecessor, Mr Thomas Thabane, who has since fled to South Africa.

The Sadc Double Troika – comprising Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Malawi – resolved to get to the bottom of Lesotho’s problems, starting with Brig Mahao’s killing.

It also encouraged Maseru to promptly institute constitutional and security sector reforms, and facilitate the return of exiled opposition leaders.

South Africa Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was retained as Sadc facilitator for Lesotho.

A communique at the Summit’s conclusion reads, “Summit received the report of the Sadc facilitator to the Kingdom of Lesotho, and expressed concern regarding the deterioration of the political and security situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho, which forced the main opposition leaders to flee the country fearing for their security, and exacerbated by the tragic death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, the former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander on the 25th of June 2015.

“Summit decided, as a matter of urgency, to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Brigadier Mahao, and its deployment with immediate effect.

‘‘Summit requested full collaboration and co-operation of (the) government of the Kingdom of Lesotho in facilitating the work of the Commission of Inquiry.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told Zimbabwean journalists yesterday that the Commission’s and Oversight Committee’s work would help ensure full stability in Lesotho.

“It was a very successful meeting because these two teams will enable Sadc to get to the root cause of the instability in Lesotho. Both their terms of reference are wide-ranging, and a decision will be taken based on their reports.

“All the parties are pleased with the outcome.

‘‘The Heads of State and Government in the Troika were unanimous that there was a crisis.

‘‘Lesotho is a member of the Troika, and if the other five members are telling you there is a crisis in your country that needs to be resolved, it will be difficult to resist.

“And of course, one does not have to go far to know that President Mugabe is highly respected; so I’m sure since he was the one chairing the Double Troika, that also would have influenced the position taken by the Prime Minister of Lesotho.”

Lesotho’s latest problems come after the country’s February 2015 parliamentary elections, which ushered in PM Mosisili to the premiership, replacing Mr Thabane.

In August 2014, there were reports of an attempted military coup after Mr Thabane fired LDF commander Lieutenant-General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli and elevated Brigadier Mahao to the post.

However, the army denied the reports, and PM Mosisili was to reinstate Kamoli soon after taking office.

Mr Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele Maseribane and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho’s Keketso Ranso fled the country as political violence surged.

In June 2015, prominent businessman Mr Thabiso Tsosane was shot dead after meeting Mr Thabane.

Sadc Politics, Defence and Security Organ chair and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma called the Double Troika Summit after his fact-finding mission reported serious tension in Lesotho.

President Mugabe returned home on Friday night and was received at the Harare International Airport by Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Harare Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa, Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, senior Government officials and service chiefs.

 

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