SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected in the country this morning to try and breathe new life into the much-delayed multi-sector reforms recommended by the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms recommended by SADC way back in 2016 are yet to see the light of day. They have now effectively taken the back stage as the fighting in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) consumes the government. Mr Ramaphosa is the SADC facilitator tasked with overseeing the implementation of the reforms. When he became South African president early last year, he was allowed to delegate that role to his country’s well respected former chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.
South Africa’s High Commissioner to Lesotho, Sello Moloto, told the Lesotho Times yesterday Mr Ramaphosa’s visit was aimed at encouraging all stakeholders to expedite the implementation of the reforms. This will be his first visit since he became President.
“This is a working visit where he will have an audience with His Majesty (King Letsie III), the Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane) and all the stakeholders who are involved in the reforms,” Mr Moloto said.
Lesotho has already missed SADC’s May 2019 deadline to have fully implemented the reforms.
Initially the reforms process was stalled by the bickering between the government and the opposition. The latter had listed a host of demands, including the creation of a government of national unity (GNU), a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) as well as the release of prisoners, like murder-accused former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, as pre-conditions for participation, before dropping all these.
Lately the ABC infighting has been the main stumbling block as it has affected all government business.
Last month ABC legislators loyal to the party’s deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao filed a no confidence motion in parliament against Dr Thabane, a development that appears to have rattled SADC.
Judge Moseneke immediately jetted in to ascertain if the no confidence vote would scuttle the reforms. Sources said he had been informed the motion posed a grave threat to the reforms.
Justice Moseneke was in the country again this week. Sources said he had planned to meet Prof Mahao’s faction to persuade it to abandon the no confidence motion to save the multi-sector reforms process. The meeting did not happen as planned.
ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele said a meeting with Justice Moseneke had been scheduled for Monday but was later called off due to the latter’s hectic schedule.
Meanwhile, Mr Moloto said Mr Ramaphosa’s focus will be on the implementation of the reforms and not the ABC’s power struggle.
“The focus is on the reforms and he (Mr Ramaphosa) is going to be talking to them (stakeholders) about the reforms, to encourage them to do more,” Mr Moloto said.
Foreign and International Affairs minister Lesego Makgothi’s mobile phone rang unanswered when this publication called him for comment yesterday.
The SADC secretariat nonetheless said in a statement yesterday Mr Makgothi had assured the regional bloc that Lesotho continued to make progress in the implementation of the reforms.
“The minister further expressed gratitude to SADC for its continued commitment to ensuring that lasting peace and stability is maintained in the Kingdom and in SADC as a whole,” part of the statement posted on the SADC website reads. It said an update on political developments in Lesotho will be provided to the Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation at its meeting scheduled from 18 to 19 July 2019, in Lusaka Zambia.