- accuses facilitator of meddling in governance issues
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi has come out guns blazing against the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s proxy facilitator in Lesotho, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, accusing him of meddling in the governance issues of Lesotho. This after Justice Moseneke is said to have asked Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition to lift its controversial suspension of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara.
Mr Makgothi rebuked Justice Moseneke for subtly questioning the government’s decisions “as if we are co-governing with his facilitation team”.
Justice Moseneke, who is a former deputy chief justice of South Africa, was appointed by the neighboring country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to represent him in his mediation of the Lesotho crisis at a 24 April 2018 SADC Double Troika Summit in Angola.
It was decided at that Troika Summit that President Ramaphosa continue to act as the regional body’s facilitator in Lesotho but appoint high level personalities to support him in June this year. Mr Ramaphosa then appointed Justice Moseneke, an internationally renowned and respected jurist, who served time with Nelson Mandela at Robben Ireland during South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle. Mr Moseneke’s team also comprises of three deputy ministers, namely the Basic Education’s Enver Surty, the International Relations and Cooperation’s Makgabo Regina Mhaule and State Security’s Ellen Molekane.
Mr Makgothi’s acerbic remarks against Justice Moseneke come in the wake of the collapse of the national dialogue event, slated to have run from 9 to 12 October 2018. Although various reasons have been given for the collapse of the national dialogue event, the opposition has vowed that it will not be part of the reforms process over the government’s “meddling in the judiciary and failure to uphold the rule of law as evidenced by the recent suspension of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara.”
Mr Makgothi had no kind words for Justice Moseneke whom he accused of fighting in the opposition’s corner by calling for the reinstatement of Justice Majara.
“He (Moseneke) is subtly questioning our governance decisions as if we are co-governing with the Facilitation Team,” Mr Makgothi said in an interview with theLesotho Times.
He said the issue of the suspension of Chief Justice Majara had nothing to do with the reforms agenda.
“If there is an impasse regarding anything in relation to the national dialogue, the National Leaders Forum (NLF) will have to sit immediately to resolve that.
“I don’t see why NLF was not called (to deal with any issues) instead of (Judge Moseneke) coming to request the government to reinstate Majara. She was never on the agenda of reforms and she will never be.
“The Chief Justice’s issue and the governance of Lesotho are not part of the facilitation team’s work. There is a government in place at the end of the day with its own independent decisions that do not concern anybody, not even SADC itself.
“We need to draw a line between the reforms and the daily business of government.
“It doesn’t make sense at all that every time we make executive decisions, they come around and want us to change them.
“The issue of the Chief Justice was well thought out. His Majesty was well advised and it took a long time to actually make sure that there are enough independent legal opinions to advice His Majesty accordingly, that way it was a simple way of vying for transparency and eliminating bias.”
He further accused Justice Moseneke of inconsistency when discharging his mandate as facilitator.
“This time around the team did not meet with the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and College of Chiefs. Why? Where is consistency?” asked Mr Makgothi.
Mr Makgothi said if only the facilitation team had its terms of reference, “this would help it to work within the confines of their mandate”.
“Justice Moseneke was supposed to have furnished us with his terms of reference and clear schedule of his work as directed by the communique of the Windhoek summit. It’s almost two months down the line and he has not done that to date.
“The Moseneke team does not regard itself as proxy to facilitator but the facilitator himself by the look of things,” charged Mr Makgothi.
Mr Makgothi further accused Justice Moseneke of delaying the preparations for the dialogue in his capacity as chairperson of the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC).
The foreign minister said the nation was ready to go on with the reforms even though the facilitation team is “not so engaging”.
“As a country we are pushing ahead preparing for the national dialogue although the facilitation team is not so engaging on preparations except that it is evidently seeing itself as the mediation team that is brokering for the opposition in all aspects,” Mr Makgothi said.
“The terms of reference of the NDPC are clear on what number constitutes a quorum, among other things, and if three people pull out of the committee, the country cannot be held at ransom”.
Mr Makgothi said instead of focusing on the issues of Lesotho’s governance, Justice Moseneke should be working on bringing the leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing back to the country.
“Why is Mr Metsing still in South Africa not back in the country as directed by SADC? That is something he should be working on than what government has decided to do as part of its mandate,” charged Mr Makgothi.
He also accused the opposition of having never been keen to be part of the reforms process.
“The opposition was never keen to engage in reforms in the first place. They failed in their time to deliver on the promise of reforming Lesotho. When they see that it is actually picking momentum and we are committed to our promise, they instead clamor to have a government of national unity so that their incompetence will be shadowed by reforming together with us.”
Efforts to get a comment from Justice Moseneke were fruitless as his phone went unanswered yesterday while a message sent to him was not replied until the time of going to print.
DC chairperson Motlalentoa Letsosa said: “This (Makgothi) is the guy who should be very diplomatic instead of just talking the way he is doing and derailing his government by just talking like a party fan”.
“They have not succeeded in a thing concerning the reforms process. They were too arrogant and hence a committee comprising of all stakeholders was established after we suggested it… Therefore, we are the ones who have won in this regard and not them.
“(Mr) Makgothi is just trying to soothe his bruised ego because we have whisked the power away from their hands. They have nothing to gloat about. They have no power left on their hands nor do they have a voice,” Mr Letsosa said.
Mr Makgothi’s remarks and the opposition’s stance effectively buttress the viewpoint that Basotho may never achieve common ground in working on the constitutional and security reforms recommended by SADC to finally end perennial instability in the country. SADC has given Lesotho until May 2019 to have formulated and implemented the reforms. The specter of that happening now appears increasingly remote by each passing day.