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‘SADC unhappy with slow pace of reforms’

by Lesotho Times

Pascalinah Kabi

THE government is tomorrow expected to table a progress report at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, Namibia amid indications that the regional body is increasingly impatient with the slow pace of implementing multi-sector reforms.

The 38th ordinary summit of the heads of state and government of SADC will take place from tomorrow to Friday.

At the last summit in Luanda, Angola in April this year, Lesotho was given until May 2019 to have fully implemented constitutional and security sector reforms. The regional body also said that Lesotho should present a progress report at the next SADC summit (the one that is currently underway in Namibia).

Sources within the regional body this week told the Lesotho Times that SADC was concerned that the government and other stakeholders who include the political opposition were not doing enough to ensure the reforms would have been fully implemented by next year.

“SADC heads of state states are not happy with the direction taken by the leaders of this country towards the implementation of reforms,” a source told this publication.

“During the Angola summit (in April), the leaders clearly showed their dissatisfaction with how things were going in Lesotho. SADC deployed a standby force in Lesotho and nine months later, there is no significant progress towards the implementation of the reforms and this is not sitting well with the heads of state. They feel that the government of Lesotho and other political leaders are dragging their feet on this very important matter.”

The reforms process has stalled largely as a result of the constant bickering between the government and the opposition over the latter’s demands for the establishment of a government of national unity and an end to the prosecutions of army officers suspected of human rights violations among other things.

So far, the only tangible developments with regards to the reforms process have been Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s speech in parliament to formally launch the reforms and the holding of the National Day of Prayer for the reforms in June.

A government roadmap that was presented to the SADC heads of state in Angola indicated that the National Leaders’ Forum and the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) would have been convened and launched in May. These action plans have still not been carried out.

Of late there has been a flurry of activity on the government side with dates being announced for the National Leaders’ Forum. The National Leaders’ Forum was supposed to have been held last Thursday but it was postponed indefinitely after it was boycotted by the opposition.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane also announced that an all-inclusive multi-stakeholder national dialogue will be held in October.

However, another SADC source told this publication that the government efforts “were not enough and appear to have been motivated by the need to present signs of progress and action at the SADC summit in Namibia.”

SADC Oversight Committee Chairperson, Matias Bertino Matondo was not available on his mobile phone for comment amid indications that he had already left for the Namibia summit.

On his part, the Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, said if at all SADC was not happy with the pace of the reforms, it had not communicated that position to the government.

According to Mr Mphaka, SADC in fact happy with the government for working harmoniously with the regional body towards finding a long-lasting solution to Lesotho’s problems.

“To the best of my knowledge, that issue (of SADC’s frustration with the slow pace of implementing reforms) has not been raised with the government.

“Even during our last week meeting with (SADC facilitator to Lesotho) Justice Dikgang Moseneke, the issue was not raised. I do recall however, that SADC is very appreciative of the fact that this government is working harmoniously with them unlike in the past,” Mr Mphaka said.

He said the government would table its progress report on the reforms process at the summit tomorrow and that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Lesego Makgothi “was in charge of that matter”.

“I am not sure of the contents of the (progress) report because at the time they (Mr Makgothi and his delegation) left the country (for Namibia on Sunday) I had not seen it.

“Progress on the ground is very slow because the multi-stakeholder forum which was scheduled for this month has been pushed to 9 to 12 October 2018. However, the Ministry of Defence and National Security is on the verge of completing its draft roadmap for the security sector reforms.

“The implementation of the actual reforms will begin after the multi-stakeholder forum. We have to bear in mind that the parliament still needs to enact the Reforms Commission Bill into a law before we can embark on this road,” added Mr Mphaka.

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