ONE lesson we have learnt from the resolutions of this week’s Southern African Development Community (SADC) Double Troika Summit is that the regional body’s patience is wearing thin as a result of the failure to implement multi-sector reforms that were recommended in 2016.
We did not even need to learn this from the Tuesday summit in Angola to teach us this home truth as it does not take the knowledge of rocket science to understand that in any situation even those with the best intentions will eventually be exasperated by the repeated to do the right thing for your own good.
As we report elsewhere in this edition, SADC has given Lesotho until May 2019 to implement the constitutional and security sector reforms that the country has failed to implement despite an undertaking to do so by all political parties prior to the June 2017 elections.
It can only be a person who has just landed from outer space who would not know that this country has suffered and continues to bear the pain of political instability, murders and unstable governments.
The atmosphere of pain, economic deprivation that we have endured along with a host of other social ills are issues we can only begin to address only in an environment that is predicated on the implementation of the reforms.
We set ourselves benchmarks and timelines for the implementation of reforms but all that is not happening and to a large measure this can be attributed to the opposition’s intransigence.
According to the government’s roadmap for reforms, national dialogue on the reforms should have been held by now and an agreement should have been reached on the reforms to the justice sector, among other things.
The roadmap further states that by the end of this month, the National Security Policy (NSP) of Lesotho should have been adopted and a National Security Council established.
“Legislation to clarify and harmonise security sector architecture in line with NSP/Security Sector Strategy (should have been) adopted.
“The legislative process should be preceded by multi-stakeholder discussions around the key topics that should be addressed in the law including the National Defence Act and the Police Act. The discussions should be informed by regional, continental and international best practice,” part of the roadmap states
But the reforms process has not started. In fact we have not even held a national prayer to mark the beginning of the process.
This is down to the endless bickering between the parties in government and those in the opposition.
While we understand and accept the validity of demands by the opposition for guarantees for the safety of their leaders who fled the country allegedly in fear for their lives, we however cannot understand why they continue to hold the process to ransom by making demands on who should be arrested or freed after being lawfully hauled before the courts to answer charges on purely criminal matters.
How does the opposition reconcile its demands for the release of security agents who shot and almost killed the Lesotho Times editor for exercising his mandate to produce a quality newspaper.
How does the arrest of such criminals become a political issue deserving immunity from prosecution? The Lesotho Times is not even a political organisation nor is it beholden to any political organisation.
One thing for sure is that we cannot go on like this and continue expecting to be treated with kid gloves by our regional partners.
All the stakeholders must now use the SADC ultimatum to work towards the betterment of our country through the full implementation of the reforms.
Our regional counterparts have other pressing issues within their own countries to deal with and theirs is not a bottomless purse that will always be used to renew the mandates of SADC forces in Lesotho.
Let us make the most of the help of our regional counterparts to heal our country while we still have the opportunity to do so.