- Asks SADC Commission to probe ABC leader over adjustment of police salaries ‘without cabinet approval’.
- Also wants ex-premier’s decision to indefinitely suspend LCS boss Napo Sefali investigated.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has asked the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry to make three “important” additions to its terms of reference.
The 12-member probe team, which arrived in the country on Monday this week, had initially been tasked with investigating circumstances surrounding the death of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao outside his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015.
Brigadier Mahao was fatally shot by LDF members, allegedly as he resisted arrest after being fingered as the ring-leader of a mutiny plot in the army.
In addition, the SADC Commission, led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana, was expected to “review LDF investigations into the alleged mutiny plot”. The review was expected to cover the “alleged kidnap of former LDF members and killing of members of opposition political parties”.
The panel was also mandated to probe “the legality and manner of the removal of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF in August 2014 and his reappointment in May this year”.
SADC also mandated the Commission to investigate “allegations by opposition parties and civil society stakeholders that Lt Gen Kamoli’s reappointment had resulted in divisions in the LDF and led to political and security instability in Lesotho”.
However, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has since written to SADC Facilitator and South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking him to amend the Commission’s terms of reference.
In the communiqué dated 9 July 2015, Dr Mosisili gives Mr Ramaphosa feedback of government’s response to the SADC decision taken by its Double Troika on 3 July 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa.
SADC chairperson and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, Botswana President Ian Khama, Namibia’s Minister of Defence Penda Ya Ndakolo, Defence Advisor at the Malawi High Commission in South Africa Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Mambo and Dr Mosisili attended the special Summit held specifically to discuss Lesotho’s security and political challenges. Mr Ramaphosa and SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax also attended the Summit.
In his letter to Mr Ramaphosa, Dr Mosisili first acknowledges the South African’s role in facilitating Lesotho’s snap elections on 28 February 2015. The early elections were prompted by persistent squabbles between then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing, leading to the collapse of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Basotho National Party government. The Democratic Congress (DC) leader also welcomes SADC’s establishment of an eight-member Oversight Committee to act as an early warning mechanism in the event of instability signs in Lesotho, as well as the Commission of Inquiry made up of legal experts from the region.
Dr Mosisili, however, notes in the letter that “both His majesty and Cabinet” had taken “the liberty to suggest three important additions” to the Commission’s terms of reference, which all relate to Dr Thabane’s conduct while in office.
Reads the premier’s letter: “In the first place, it behoves us to congratulate you, sir, on the well-deserved accolades showered on you for successfully executing your mandate as facilitator, and for the extension of that mandate (by the 3 July SADC Double Troika). However, I must hasten to remind you, sir, that we still anxiously await delivery of your report to His Majesty and Government.
“Secondly, I am directed to assure you and SADC of our satisfaction with the two structures set up by the summit, viz the eight-man Early Warning Committee and Commission of Inquiry. On the latter, however, both His Majesty and Cabinet take the liberty to suggest three important additions to the terms of reference”.
According to the premier, the Commission should also “investigate the Lesotho Defence Force operation of 30 August 2014, in which Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko lost his life. Serious allegations of a coup attempt have been touted around events of that early morning operation by the LDF and we feel that advantage should be taken of the Commission to investigate that incident which, as you will no doubt recall, led to Prime Minister Thabane (as he then was) fleeing to South Africa.”
Dr Mosisili also asks the Commission to investigate Dr Thabane’s decision to increase police salaries, as well as the ABC leader’s constant change of police commissioners.
The premier notes in his letter: “Another equally important aspect that merits investigation, we strongly urge, is the tenuous relationship between then Prime Minister Thabane and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) which led, inter alia, to the appointments (and dismissals) of four Commissioners of Police in the two-and-a-half years (Dr Thabane was in power), and to the LMPS being awarded a hefty, albeit unbudgeted, salary increase by Prime Minister Thabane without Cabinet approval and to the exclusion of the other two disciplined forces (Lesotho Correctional Service and Lesotho Defence Force).
“By the same token, Mr Facilitator, we strongly urge that the indefinite suspension of Commissioner Napo Sefali of the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) by Prime Minister Thabane merits investigation. In the same vein, we urge that the causes of the now five-month-old go-slow strike in the LCS equally merits investigation by the Commission of Inquiry.
“It is our considered opinion that in all honesty and without malice to anybody, these matters must be included in the terms-of-reference for the Commission of Inquiry. Any attempt or effort to delve deep into the causes of instability in Lesotho and thus, ostensibly to find a lasting solution without involving the LMPS and LCS, will not and cannot succeed.
“In the meantime, let me conclude by assuring you, sir, of government’s readiness and eagerness to facilitate the work of the Commission of Inquiry once it is established. Let me also indicate that in order to enjoy legal efficacy and standing, the Commission will have to be set up in terms of the Public Inquiries Act. Government will speedily process its establishment in terms of this law once the agreed terms of reference and composition of the Commission are availed.”
In his response, Mr Ramaphosa accepts Dr Mosisili’s “suggestions” but adds to the mandate of the probe team by noting it was “necessary” for the Commission to also look into the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings by unknown assailants of the Moshoeshoe II homes of Liabiloe Ramoholi (Dr Thabane’s partner at the time), and ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.
Mr Ramaphosa further says in his letter dated 12 July 2015, that it would “also be essential” for the Commission to look into the appointment of the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Kananelo Mosito by Dr Thabane in January this year. The legality of Justice Mosito’s appointment has since been challenged by the Attorney General and several high-profile lawyers.
Reads Mr Ramaphosa’s response to Dr Mosisili: “I thank you for the valuable suggestions you have made following his Majesty’s and your Cabinet’s reflection with regard to additional matters that need to be factored into the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry established at the Heads of State Double Troika Summit held in Pretoria on 3 July 2015.
“In the spirit of taking advantage of the Commission, I believe it is also necessary to look at allegations of criminal conduct on the part of both the LDF and LMPS, and their respective members as they affected security and stability in the Kingdom as a whole, including events of 27 January 2014 where it is alleged that certain homes were bombed and in relation to which eight LDF members were charged with high treason.
“I believe it is also necessary to investigate the impact of various changes in the top leadership of the courts, such as the appointment of a new President of the Court of Appeal, their legitimacy and ability to tackle various criminal and civil issues that have or will come before them in relation to the issues before the Commission.”