PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday insisted the SADC Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations were not binding on Lesotho, adding the regional bloc’s Double Troika Summit held in Botswana this week only urged the government to fully implement the SADC Observer Mission to Lesotho (SOMILES) report.
Addressing a press conference in Maseru to outline Lesotho’s position on the Summit held in Gaborone on Tuesday, Dr Mosisili said government would only be guided in instituting reforms by four documents.
“The first document is the report compiled by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who has been the SADC facilitator to Lesotho since 15 September 2014,” he said.
“During his facilitation, Mr Ramaphosa, among other things, compiled a report in which he set out recommendations. This report was later commonly referred to as SOMILES (SADC Observer Mission to Lesotho) report.”
The premier said the second document was the Coalition Agreement unveiled on 10 April 2015 which set out the modus operandi for the seven governing parties.
“You will recall that when the government was on the verge of implementing the tenets of the Coalition Agreement, an unfortunate incident of the death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao befell the nation on 25 June 2015,” said Dr Mosisili.
“The government then sought the urgent assistance of SADC to establish a Commission of Inquiry. Nowadays, that commission is known as the Phumaphi Commission.
“The Phumaphi Commission made its recommendations which you all know about and I even made a statement about them in parliament on 8 February this year. The Phumaphi report is the third document.”
The premier said the fourth document was the statement he made before parliament on 20 June 2016, explaining government’s position with regards to the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry report.
“That is the document we took to Botswana and presented before the SADC Double Troika Summit. Even though these four documents are different here and there, they all talk about the issue of reforms. You will also recall that according to the Coalition Agreement, we are a reformist government.”
Dr Mosisili then delved into the individual decisions reached by the SADC Double Troika Summit as stated by its communiqué released on Tuesday.
On the call for Lesotho to urgently fulfil her commitments through “demonstrable implementation of SADC decisions”, he said the bloc was not referring to the Phumaphi recommendations but the SOMILES report.
“The document being referred to when they said ‘SADC decisions’ is the SOMILES report because its recommendations were adopted and turned into its decisions. SADC therefore urges the government to implement the SOMILES recommendations which relate to the reforms, as a matter of urgency.”
The SOMILES report covers constitutional, security sector, public service and media reforms.
“The government also has its own five-pronged reform programme with constitutional, public service, security sector, parliamentary and judiciary reforms,” he said.
On the team comprising experts from Double Troika member states to support the Kingdom of Lesotho in preparing and holding a technical workshop on security sector reforms, the premier said the decision was in line with a request made by the government to SADC.
“We actually made the request for experts into what goes into security reforms and they have accepted our request. We had written to (Mozambican) President Filipe Nyusi as chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
“We have since been asked by SADC to identify an institution in Lesotho that will be the contact point to prepare for this workshop. The government will soon announce such an institution.”
On the team of experts to be dispatched to support Lesotho to prepare a roadmap for constitutional reforms and implementations, he said it was also in response to the government’s request to South Africa.
“This is because South Africa recently went through the process of establishing its constitution. South Africans are therefore the best people to guide us in that exercise. “After all, the South African constitution is commended all over the world. It is said to be one of the best,” Dr Mosisili.
“Mr Ramaphosa thought it wise to involve SADC on this matter so that it is not just a bilateral arrangement but a regional one.”
The premier said the government would not just amend the Constitution, but work towards making a new one.
“We already sought expertise and assistance for a new constitution through the United Nations Development Programme and other experts,” he said.
“They have come up with a concept paper, so we have already started. After coming up with a new Constitution, we will conduct a referendum on whether Basotho accept or reject it.”
On the Double Troika Summit’s call for Lesotho to implement the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations, and “develop a comprehensive roadmap with clear actions and timeframes in relation to the responses given”, Dr Mosisili said the responses referred to were in reference to his remarks in parliament on 20 June.
“SADC took note of that statement and now urges us to develop a comprehensive roadmap in relation to the responses we gave them, which is something we will do before the next summit in August.”
On the call for a comprehensive roadmap with clear timeframes on the implementation of all SADC decisions, the premier stressed the decision did not refer to the recommendations of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry.
“Like I said earlier, SADC decisions are the contents of the SOMILES report, not of Justice Phumaphi’s recommendations. I hear people are confused on the streets that the Phumaphi recommendations have been turned into SADC decisions for the government of Lesotho to implement in their entirety. That is totally wrong,” he said.
“The Phumaphi recommendations will remain recommendations and are not binding to a sovereign state like Lesotho. They are different from the SADC decisions emanating from the SOMILES report.”
The premier said he was unaware of the terms of reference of the Oversight Committee to serve as an early warning mechanism in Lesotho. The committee would also provide assistance on the implementation of the constitutional, security and public sector reforms, according to the Double Troika’s communique.
“On this one, I must confess that we are not aware of the terms of reference as the government of Lesotho. I have asked the ministers present about this one and they are also not aware of it. However, we will try to communicate this issue with SADC so that we can have those terms of reference of the Oversight Committee,” Dr Mosisili said.
“All you should know is that the Committee will be here just to assist and support us. We are a sovereign state so that Committee cannot be here to dictate what the government should do. It is an oversight body like the name says. The reforms will be done by us.”
On the call for opposition leaders to return by the end of August, the premier said the government had managed to “convince” SADC that the exiled leaders could not claim that they fled to South Africa in May 2015 because their lives were endangered by army commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli who was yet to be reinstated.
“The ball is now on the Double Troika’s side to make sure they return home because we did our part as government but to no avail. The exiled leaders keep changing the reasons for not coming back,” he said.