Group ramps ups pressure over SADC recommendations

Group ramps ups pressure over SADC recommendations

Staff Reporter

MASERU

A civil society group, the Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD), has called on Basotho and the international community to exert pressure on the government to implement the SADC recommendations “in their entirety”.

In a statement released yesterday, the MMD which is made up of disgruntled politicians from various political formations, said the SADC recommendations are “the only solution to our suffering”.

The organisation was formed after the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao in June last year.

“We call on friends of Basotho, near and far, to compel the government of Lesotho to implement, without further delay, recommendations of Judge Phumaphi’s Commission,” part of the statement reads.

“All those who have been fingered, in the Report, to have committed criminal acts, must be brought before the courts of law, now.”

The SADC Commission was chaired by Botswana judge, Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi. The report has recommended that all soldiers accused of criminal acts that include murder and attempted murder should be brought before the courts of law to face justice.

The SADC Report also recommended the prosecution of soldiers implicated in the bombing of the homes of former premier Thomas Thabane’s girlfriend, Liabiloe Ramoholi, and former police commissioner Khotsatso Tšooana’s in 2013.

It also recommends that the police should be equipped to investigate the death of Mahao with the objective of criminally prosecuting army officers who killed him.

It also recommended the dismissal of army commander Tlali Kamoli.

The MDD says Lesotho, which Moshoeshoe I worked hard to bring together, “is today being driven, bit-by-bit,into an abyss in which the rule of law will bea thing of the past”.

“In many areas of governance and community life, it is already so,” the statement reads.

“Hatred and fear will reign, many Basotho have already been killed, and suffered in other ways, from criminality inspired by political intolerance and hatred,” it reads.

The MDD says if these recommendations are not implemented, its fear is that “Basotho will live under the unfortunate conditions similar to those under which the people of Somalia live”.

“The only beneficiaries of that state of lawlessness will be individuals and elites who are driving society in that direction. They will escape from having to answer for their deeds,” the statement reads.

It also says if Lesotho does not implement the recommendations international trade partners like the United States will close opportunities like the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), which might lead to mass closure of local textile factories.

“If factories that make clothes for sale in America were to be closed, Lesotho and its economy will be adversely affected,” the statement says.

“Accordingly, we have to acknowledge support of other countries, especially the United States of America through AGOA, to Lesotho’s development efforts,” it reads.

“If the current government turns a deaf ear to calls to comply with AGOA conditions, the government of the United States of America will deny Lesotho access to AGOA concessions. If that happens, the economy of Lesotho will be adversely affected.”

The MDD says if that happens “factory workers, the road transport industry, children whose fees are paid by factory workers, and government’s tax revenue—all of them will suffer”.

“Let us work to stop this country and nation from sliding into the misfortune that has befallen the people of Somalia,” it says.

“The time has come for us to speak with one loud voice and demand the implementation of Judge Phumaphi Commission’s recommendation, now.”

The group also made“a special plea to the government of South Africa and SADC to deal with the Lesotho government firmly on issues regarding implementation of Judge Phumaphi Commission’s recommendations”.

Communications Minister Khotso Letsatsi says the government is doing its utmost to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.

“As to whether they will be implemented in their entirety it will be seen but I want to assure you that the government also wants the recommendations to be implemented,” he says.

“The government’s efforts to engage in talks with the opposition are a sure sign that we want to implement the recommendations as best as we can.”

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