Wednesday, June 29, 2016

SADC Maps Security Reforms for Lesotho
June 29, 2016

Morris Mkwate recently in Gaborone, Botswana
Zimbabwe Herald

A Sadc-appointed committee will oversee the implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms in Lesotho, a major step towards ensuring political stability in that kingdom.

The eight-member panel has representation from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Tanzania which all constitute the sadc Double Troika.

It will visit the Mountain Kingdom periodically, provide expertise in key reform areas, and then report to the Summit of Heads of State in Swaziland this August.

Further, the sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and the facilitator, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, will oversee the return of Lesotho opposition leaders from exile and their participation in constitutional reform.

The Troika took these decisions at its summit in Gaborone, Botswana yesterday after roughly four hours of deliberations.

President Mugabe was part of the exchanges that saw Lesotho’s Prime Minister Dr Phakalitha Mosisili committing to constitutionalism and the said reforms.

The sadc Double Troika comprises the Troika of Summit (Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland) which handles affairs in between meetings of Heads of State, and the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation (Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania).

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told Zimbabwean journalists last night that the summit had located Basotho’s problems in their constitution and security institutions.

“The Oversight Committee will begin its assignment immediately; that was the decision. It is only a question of bringing its members together and putting the logistics in place.

“(The committee) will then definitely hit the ground to assist the Kingdom of Lesotho. It was clear the Prime Minister and his government are prepared to implement (recommendations) and undertake reforms.”

“It was a very successful summit, held in a very cordial atmosphere. There was co-operation from all the parties involved, and it clearly indicated that we should get a good report at the sadc Summit to be held in Swaziland in August. We are expecting a very positive progress report.”

Lesotho has been on the edge since its ex-defence forces commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao was shot dead by his former subordinates on June 25, 2015 while allegedly resisting arrest on a charge of mutiny. There had been reports of an attempted military coup after the then Prime Minister Dr Thomas Thabane fired LDF commander Lieutenant-General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli and elevated Brig Mahao to the post in 2014.

However, the army denied the reports, and Dr Thabane’s successor, Dr Mosisili, was to reinstate Kamoli after taking office in 2015.

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

A sadc Commission of Inquiry into Brig Mahao’s killing recommended the following:

--The Government of Lesotho should ensure criminal investigations on the death of Brig Mahao are pursued vigorously. The finality of the investigations should lead to a transparent course of justice;

--In the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation, Lieutenant-General Kamoli should be relieved of his duties as LDF Commander, and all LDF officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason should be suspended while investigations on their cases proceed in line with international best practice;

--Deficiencies and overlaps in the Constitution of Lesotho with regards to mandates of security institutions need to be looked into urgently with a comprehensive strategy to reform them; and

--An amnesty covering detained mutiny suspects and ensuring the safe return of LDF members who fled Lesotho in fear for their lives should be facilitated.

Yesterday, the summit established that PM Mosisili’s government has submitted key reports, including the Commission’s to its law enforcement and investigations arm. Maseru has also arranged major workshops on security sector reforms and is studying national constitutions regionally.

President Mugabe returned home last 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 to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, senior Government officials and service chiefs.

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