‘We remain committed to justice’

‘We remain committed to justice’

EVERYBODY likes to make decisions that are popular whether it’s at work, family or, in my case, government.
A popular decision is easy to make and connects with the mood of the people. But what could be better than a popular decision? The answer is simple: a correct decision.
Before I get to the crux of my argument I want to dispel some blatant lies circulating in our country right now.
The first point is that there has never been a decision or even a discussion to change MPs loans from M500 000 to M600 000, as alleged by some. I challenge anyone to dispute this by producing evidence to the contrary.

The truth is that the only discussion is on possibilities of eliminating the loan scheme.
The person who started this rumour did so simply to enflame people and further charge their hostilities in this difficult environment.
The second point is that there is no amnesty granted to anyone. There are many dangerous people in Lesotho who deal in innuendo, half-truths and often outright lies to sway people into emotional responses to issues.

Sadly, these people are found on all sides of the political divide in Lesotho.
When they can’t win an argument with facts they resort to trying to feed us some half-baked stories in the hope of soliciting an emotional rather than practical response from us.
The current government of Lesotho has not reneged on its solemn undertaking to bring criminals to justice.
On 30 August 2014 there was an attempted coup in Lesotho. Every person who was involved in that attempt to subvert the democratically expressed view of Basotho will face the might of the law, irrespective of whether they are in Lesotho, South Africa or anywhere else.

 

Senior civilian members of the 2015-2017 second coalition government of Lesotho were complicit in the deaths of Lt General Maaparankoe Mahao, policeman Mokalakale Khetheng and others.
They too will face the might of the law.

The senior people engaged in corruption will pay for their actions. We swear on this, even if it’s the last thing we do as a government.
But now we have to tell each other some unpleasant but real truths. Prosecuting this or that person is about making them accountable for their actions.
I agree that this is a perfectly legitimate desire but we have to ask how it fits into the broader spectrum of things.
Even before the crises that rocked the country between 2014 and 2017, everybody who is close to and loves Lesotho argued for a truly inclusive and genuine national reform process.
Reforms we devise not only with our friends but also with our so-called enemies.

Our current socio-political-economic situation has been disadvantaging the people of Lesotho for more than 50 years. We are the poorest and most unstable country in the SADC region.
That is our shared legacy irrespective of where you stand politically. Putting public enemy number one before the courts will satisfy our lust for revenge.
It will make him suffer for his crimes but it will also make it more difficult for us to achieve the sort of national dialogue and reforms that can transform our national situation.
It has become difficult for us as Basotho to see beyond the deeply entrenched political positions that we hold. We are so depressed by our current economic situation that we have lost faith that we can change things for the better.

For me it’s become a simple matter: we cannot carry on like we have done before. Politics based on polarisation, vindictiveness and constant anger have failed the country.
I support the view that we spend the next 18 to 24 months talking to and engaging each other (don’t listen to those peddlers of untruths who say the reform process is some perpetual everlasting thing — it’s a lie designed to make you believe that we can support an amnesty snuck under the table).

We will use the coming months until February 2019 in the two plenary sessions and the district consultations to engage other Basotho.
We will allow the sectoral commissions in each of the key reform areas to make their proposals over the next 12 months. They will bring these to Parliament for enactment over six months and we have the blueprint for a reformed nation.

Then the criminals will have their days in court. This is not an ideal situation for anyone. It’s a pain in the butt that we have to take this long route but shortcuts aren’t always the best either.
Please, let’s be together and focus on the bigger picture. The gains we can make collectively as a nation through the reforms process are more important to us collectively than only focusing on accused persons.

Court cases in Lesotho routinely take long before the accused face trial. How many postponements happen over years before the actual court proceedings?
I must reiterate that proceeding with prosecutions after the reforms is now a sign of weakness. Neither does it mean justice has been put on a backburner.
Nobody has granted anyone amnesty.

All that has been said is that we attach enough importance to what the nation will gain through the reform process that we are willing to accept a short postponement/delay of the court proceedings. Delayed comrades, never forgotten or forgiven.

Lastly I apologise, in advance, to my wife Kutloelo, Puleng Manyeli, Machere Rose Seutloali and Lieketseng Motsamai. They hate it when I weigh in on so-called controversial issues.
They prefer that I enjoy the relative safety of the touchline rather than get into the field and risk getting my share of mud thrown at me.

l Joang Molapo is Minister of Public Service. This article was first published on his Facebook page and he agreed to its publication in thepost. It has been subjected to light editing for clarity.

By: Joang Molapo

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