The Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) have accused the head of the South African Development Community facilitation team to Lesotho, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, of sidelining them in the mediation efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country.
Speaking on behalf of the pro-Mahao faction, the ABC’s legislator for the Mosalemane constituency, Samuel Rapapa, yesterday said their faction which boasts of at least 20 out of the ABC’s 53 legislators, was an integral part of any efforts aimed at resolving the political instability in Lesotho. He warned that sidelining them was a recipe for disaster.
Mr Rapapa’s remarks came against the background of Justice Moseneke’s hasty visit to Lesotho on Tuesday, a day after the government’s efforts to fast-track the passage of the National Reforms Authority Bill of 2019 were foiled in the National Assembly by a combined vote of the pro-Mahao and opposition legislators in parliament.
The National Reforms Authority Bill is aimed at creating an independent body to oversee the implementation of the multi-sector reforms that were recommended by SADC in 2016.
The government had proposed the fast-tracking of the passing of the bill by suspending parliamentary standing order 51(5) which provides that when a bill is tabled in parliament, it should be submitted to the relevant committees for reviews before it is taken back to the house approval or rejection.
Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the house, Monyane Moleleki, had moved that standing order 51(5) be suspended to enable the bill to be swiftly passed.
When pleading for the fast-tracking of the bill in parliament on Monday, Mr Moleleki said that the contents of the bill were already known to the legislators because it had been put together by leaders of all the political parties during the National Leaders Forum three weeks ago.
But his plea was rejected by the opposition who subsequently joined forces with pro-Mahao legislators to outvote the government on the issue. Thereafter, parliament was adjourned and this allegedly prompted Justice Moseneke’s Tuesday visit to Lesotho. Some sources have said Justice Moseneke came to mediate between the government and opposition to ensure the passage of the bill.
Mr Rapapa yesterday told the Lesotho Times that Justice Moseneke did not meet with them even though he had come to meet with all stakeholders in the reforms process. He said the repeated snubbing of the Mahao faction was a disaster in the making as they were an important stakeholder in the reforms process.
“We cannot force him (Justice Moseneke) to engage us but he needs to understand that we are a stakeholder who can vote with whoever we choose in parliament. I would advise him to consult with the faction of the ABC parliamentarians who voted with the opposition. He needs to talk to them or else they will continue to struggle with the reforms process
“We are an important stakeholder in the talks to find a long lasting solution to Lesotho’s problems. In the past we extended a hand to him but he cancelled our meeting at the last minute,” Mr Rapapa said.
It remains to be seen whether or not Justice Moseneke will meet the Mahao faction. Government spokesperson Nthakeng Selinyane told a local radio station that the former South African deputy chief justice, who heads the facilitation team on behalf of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, had come to meet all stakeholders in the reforms process.
He said the meetings would inform the contents of the progress report on the situation in Lesotho that would be presented by President Ramaphosa at the SADC heads of state and government meeting which gets underway tomorrow in Tanzania.