FOREIGN Affairs minister Lesogo Magkothi has said that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s delay in appointing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitators to Lesotho has compromised the country’s chances of meeting a SADC deadline to have fully implemented constitutional and security sector reforms by May 2019.
Mr Ramaphosa, who was the SADC facilitator to Lesotho since 2014, appointed former South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the mediation team which also comprises of three South African deputy ministers, namely, Mohamed Enver Surty (Basic Education ministry), Makgabo Regina Mhaule (International Relations and Cooperation) and Ellen Molekane (State Security).
Mr Magkothi said the government did not understand why Mr Ramaphosa only made the appointments on 15 June when the decision to appoint the team had been made at the SADC summit in Luanda, Angola in April this year.
He said even after their late appointment the facilitation team still took time to finally visit Lesotho to begin their mission and that only served to further delay the reforms process.
“Justice Moseneke came to the country three months and three days later (after the Angola meeting),” said Mr Magkothi.
“We do not know why it took his team that long to come to Lesotho. South Africa has not told us why it took that long to deploy Justice Moseneke and his team. It was on the 15th of June when we were officially informed by the South African foreign minister (Lindiwe Sisulu) that Justice Moseneke had been appointed as the facilitator’s representative and he (Justice Moseneke) only came to Lesotho on the 27th of July 2018.”
Mr Magkothi said even after that first visit, Justice Moseneke only came again to Lesotho two weeks later.
“He had said he would get back to us quickly but it took him two weeks to get back to us. But we are under a strict schedule for the implementation of the reforms,” Mr Magkothi said.
Mr Makgothi also addressed the issue of the exiled leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing, saying the government had done everything it could to guarantee his security so that he returns to the Lesotho to participate in the reforms process.
Mr Metsing has been holed up in South Africa since fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him. The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that he fled to escape prosecution for corruption.
The opposition has set Mr Metsing’s return as one of the preconditions for its participation in the process to implement multi-sector reforms that are aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.
Mr Magkothi said the government given Mr Metsing three options from which to choose a security arrangement that suited him. He was asked to choose from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and the SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL).
Mr Magkothi said Mr Metsing however, failed to decide and kept on making more demands on the government. He said the government had since resolved that it would determine what security arrangement it would afford the opposition leader upon his return home.
“We wrote to him Mr Metsing on the 16th of May, saying, ‘come back home because your security is assured. You will have the security of your own choice. If you want SAPMIL or LMPS or LDF you can have any one of them’. But he did not take up the offer,” Mr Magkothi said, adding the government would now decide on its own what security to give Mr Metsing.
Mr Magkothi also said they could not force the judiciary to drop the corruption case against Mr Metsing. He however, said that the government had had “consulted the relevant departments to ensure that court cases that are pending against the leader of the LCD and similarly placed persons will not prevent them against participating in good faith in the very crucial processes leading to the comprehensive national reforms”.