SADC saddled as tension rises in Lesotho

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SADC saddled as tension rises in Lesotho news-image By Southern Times — Oct16,2018 — 0 Comments Share 0 By Colleta Dewa Johannesburg –

The opposition in Lesotho has threatened to withdraw from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reforms process, derailing the efforts by SADC to return stability in the country. The facilitation team, led by South Africa’s Justice Dikgang Moseneke, made an urgent trip to Maseru earlier this week in an effort to resolve the impasse.

The opposition accuses the government of derailing the reform process, saying the government is flouting the constitution. Justice Moseneke told journalists that his team met various stakeholders, including Lesotho’s suspended Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and government officials. “We had a full day of work today… we met leaders of the opposition, we met government, we met parties outside government, and indeed we met with the Chief Justice, and we have dealt with a number of issues which are now at a very sensitive stage,” said Justice Moseneke. His team faces an uphill task, which requires them to enhance their efforts if they are to remain on schedule. “We should be back next week, with a little more time to deal with these issues and to advance the agenda of the national dialogue. There might be an adjustment to the dates.

That’s what we are debating next week, but the roadmap is very much alive, we are still on track,” he added. Mathibeli Mokhothu, leader of the opposition, says the government must observe the rule of law. “The number of court orders that were issued against the government, the government must respect. The issue of the Mohair Growers Association, the issue of court orders issued against it in catering issues, pertaining to hospital catering…

The issue of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, and the issue of court orders that were issued against the government while it was trying to recall the diplomats,” said Mokhothi. SADC has outlined deadlines for Lesotho to complete the reform programme by May 2019. Analysts, however, say the move by SADC to withdraw its standby force by the end of November might raise new security challenges to the fragile mountain kingdom. “President (Hage) Geingob and his SADC counterparts should reconsider the move to withdraw the standby force.

Developments that took place over the weekend are a clear indication that the situation is still very tense. The Lesotho situation has gone out of hand and SADC should do more to save the country from falling into a gory civil unrest. SADC should try to avoid another DRC situation,” said Dr Isaac Samukheliso, a political analyst.

Lesotho was forced into an early election in early 2015 following an attempted coup in August the previous year. Pakalitha Mosisili emerged the winner in the election and he fired the then army commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao soon after the elections. Brigadier Mahao died in June 2015 and his death plunged the country into further political uncertainty.

The intervention of SADC, however, has since yielded diverse positive results, including the opening of parliament, the holding of democratic elections and the inauguration of a democratic government.

During the SADC summit in Namibia in August, Lesotho was urged to implement its reform roadmap without any further delays. SADC noted that despite a number of its initiatives, progress on the implementation of the reform roadmap and national dialogue remained slow. Speaking during the summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa said SADC was losing patience. “We will not tolerate any of the role players trying to delay, derail or frustrate the holding of the national dialogue.”

SADC called on all stakeholders to demonstrate the political will to implement the reforms. The regional bloc committed itself to maintain peace and called on all member states to allow democracy to reign.

President Geingob of Namibia, who is the SADC chair, said people should experience change and that SADC initiatives should produce tangible results.