Thursday, September 24, 2020

Masire pessimistic about mediation in the Lesotho quagmire

Sir Ketumile Masire says that he does not know what will become of Lesotho politics as he is not facilitating dialogue in that Kingdom anymore.
Addressing the media in Gaborone on Thursday, Masire said that he was not given any mandate to decide on what should transpire thereafter but his role was to investigate and report back on the issues marring the Kingdom of Lesotho.
“It is now up to SADC,” he said.

He is expected to submit the final report on Lesotho at a SADC Summit in Swaziland next month, after years of mediating in politics of that country.

Masire was appointed mediator by SADC in 2007 to help solve the running dispute between government and the opposition.

He told the media that he presented the report last Wednesday to the Lesotho government and opposition parties “out of courtesy for Basotho, so they don’t hear from the media about the report”.

He revealed that his report notes that the informal coalition between the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the smaller National Independence Party (NIP) in the run-up to the 2007 poll was illegal. It also denotes that a similar coalition, between the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Lesotho Worker’s Party (LWP), was also illegal, and that both coalitions distorted the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representation system.

The contents of his report did not sit well with the Lesotho government as it was adamant that the issue over the legality or otherwise of the coalition that the ruling party entered into with the NIP had been decided by the courts, and that the government would not reopen the issue, Masire revealed to the media.

Masire also noted that he stated that the Independent Electoral Committee was also wrong in allowing a major party to form a coalition with a smaller party as it aided the distortion of the Independent Electoral Commission.

Narrating incidents that occurred during his tenure as mediator in Lesotho, he recounted the obscurity he endured while trying to find experts to investigate further on the matter.

He related to the media that “experts are rare fish”, and had wanted them to come to Lesotho, after the case in which the application by Marematlou Freedom Party to declare both coalitions between the ABC and the LWP and the Nip – LCD illegal, was dismissed by the High Court of Lesotho in July last year.

Initially, the government had delayed signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to have experts come in, saying that it needed to consult first.

However, the experts jetted into Lesotho for three days on November 25 to assess the situation but the seminar was stalled as the government said the day was a holiday and that hotels were too full to accommodate the experts.
“They said that the meeting could be held at some future time,” he asserted, despairingly.

Apparently, that was the last straw as in March this year, Masire said that he decided with the experts that they could not come into Lesotho without the government of Lesotho allowing them to.
“I went back to my principals and reported the outcome from the first to the last day,” Masire said.

On being asked which side was most difficult to work with, he jokingly said, “Basotho are difficult.”

He, however, went on to say that he believed the government proved hardest to work with.

He cited an example in which the government said if experts came, they should not disturb the status quo, no matter the outcome. The opposition, on the other hand, was saying that it was desperate to know how things should be done and that if things were being done right there would be no reason for them to pursue the matter any further but would wish for them to be corrected if they were wrong.

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