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Commission’s in-tray already full

by Lesotho Times
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THE 12-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry into the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao already has a lot in its in-tray.

In addition to probing the circumstances surrounding Brigadier Mahao’s slaying, the commission is also supposed to review the LDF’s allegations of a mutiny plot and the ensuing abduction and detention of soldiers.

The commission is also supposed to investigate the killing of members of opposition political parties such as prominent businessman Thabiso Tšosane. It is also expected to probe the legality and manner of the removal of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli at the helm of the LDF in August 2014 and his reappointment in May this year as well as allegations by opposition parties and civil society stakeholders that the reappointment had resulted in divisions in the LDF and led to political and security instability.

Suffice to say that the commission faces a mammoth task, given the variegated nature of its mandate. However, given the members’ impressive profiles, as reported elsewhere in this edition, there is no doubt about the pedigree. We wish them well and hope they will be able to fully implement their mandate for the betterment of Lesotho.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s request to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry to make three “important” additions to its terms of reference as reported in this edition will likely raise a lot of eyebrows.

However, good intentioned the move might be, his political opponents will likely see it as a Machiavellian attempt to target his nemesis, former premier Thomas Thabane.

Dr Mosisili’s request for the inclusion of Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko’s killing during a predawn LDF raid of Police Headquarters on 30 August 2014 is ordinarily a move worth supporting. However, it is beside the point when considering that the framework for the commission of inquiry’s modus operandi had already been formulated.

Already there is mounting scepticism regarding the commission’s efficacy especially considering that its findings are not prosecutable. By law, the prime minister has the prerogative to order the police to initiate further investigations following the commission’s findings so that the particular matter can be taken to the courts.

The addition of more cases will likely serve to dilute the commission’s mandate and give credence to the assertions of its naysayers.

Every commission of inquiry has a starting point, and the agreed point should be abided by. Given Lesotho’s long and torturous history of instability, the inquiry’s mandate could extend to infinity with no substantive findings to take the nation forward.

What should not be forgotten is that Lesotho’s perennial crisis stems from security challenges. Government’s recent deployment of Defence and National Security minister Tšeliso Mokhosi, and his Police and Public Safety counterpart Monyane Moleleki to SADC countries to benchmark with them regarding security reforms is a positive development that will complement the commission’s efforts.

Lesotho needs to implement the best practice from the region and beyond in terms of the relations between the armed forces and the civilian authority. This is a road this nation can only take on its own without handholding from the regional bloc.

South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa should not be drawn to adding more issues, lest the commission degenerates into a circus. At this rate, opposition parties will also start lobbying for the inclusion of their own issues for the commission to investigate. We cannot afford another damp squib commission whose findings are only as good as the paper they are written on.

To the question of what next after the commission of inquiry releases its findings, we hope that it would lead to the instituting of security and the concomitant political reforms.

Hopefully, the findings will afford this nation an opportunity to introspect and map the way forward for this nation with posterity in mind.

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