Friday, December 4, 2020

SADC threatens Lesotho with suspension over Phumaphi report

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Double Troika on Security and Defence meeting held in Gaborone has threatened to suspend Lesotho should it refuse to accept a report compiled by the Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry that investigated the death of former Lesotho army commander, General Maaparankoe Mahao.  

Insiders say that the decision was taken after a meeting that was chaired by President Ian Khama failed to reach a consensus on the findings and recommendations of the report. 

According to SABC, SADC has decided to suspend all its activities in Lesotho until the bloc meets in August. 

After the meeting in August, the regional block intends to suspend Lesotho if it refuses to accept the findings of the Phumaphi enquiry.

President Zuma is quoted as saying that SADC will release that report without Lesotho consensus.

Leaders of six SADC countries have been holding talks with Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. The Lesotho leader who is said to have been reluctant to attend the meeting arrived late on Monday whilst the meeting was already underway.
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Tax, says a full communiqu├® is expected to be released on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa who was also the facilitator on the Lesotho crisis, Mozambique President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and Zimbabwean Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.

The high powered attendance underscored the seriousness with which the Lesotho situation is considered within SADC.

According to South African media, Justice Phumaphi repeatedly clashed with members of Mosisili’s government and senior army officers over what he implied was their evasiveness in failing to answer questions about matters they should know about or their refusal to allow soldiers implicated in Mahao’s death, to testify.

Reports further indicate that the Lesotho government in turn publicly criticised the judge for hearing testimony from the previous Prime Minister Tom Thabane and other opposition politicians, in South Africa.

They had fled there about the time of Mahao’s death, saying they feared for their lives. But Mosisili’s government complained that Phumaphi had violated the terms of reference of his commission, by hearing evidence outside Lesotho.

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