Opposition holds crucial indaba

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Billy Ntaote

The leadership of the opposition alliance holds a crucial meeting in Ficksburg, South Africa, today to chart the way forward following the release of the Phumaphi report early this month.

The alliance’s 55 Members of Parliament (MPs) are expected to discuss the report into Lesotho’s instability and their on-going boycott of parliament, with their exiled leaders.

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, his Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and Basotho National Party (BNP) counterparts Keketso Rantšo and Thesele ‘Maseribane, have been living in South Africa since they fled Lesotho in May last year claiming the military was plotting to kill them.

The leaders’ exile was addressed in the Phumaphi report released in parliament on 8 February by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) commissioned Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi to lead a 10-member team of legal and security experts in investigating the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June last year and Lesotho’s other security-related issues. Lieutenant-General Mahao was shot dead by his colleagues who had come to arrest him for allegedly being the ringleader of a group of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members plotting a mutiny.

After the killing, Dr Mosisili requested SADC to help establish the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, resulting in the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry which conducted its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015.

After the probe, Justice Phumaphi produced a report, in which he also made some recommendations regarding the country’s return to stability.

Among the recommendations was that government should ensure the safe return of the three exiled opposition leaders, as well as security reforms.

However, none of the recommendations have been implemented, with Dr Mosisili announcing government would only effect those which are implementable.

BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo yesterday told the Lesotho Times that today’s meeting would discuss the way forward, in particular the MPs’ parliament boycott, which sources say has divided the opposition.

The legislators started boycotting sittings in June last year to protest their leaders’ exile and government’s alleged failure to bring Lt-Gen Mahao’s killers to book.

The MPs returned to parliament when Dr Mosisili tabled the Phumaphi report but walked out as the prime minister was addressing the House regarding his decision to expunge certain sections of the document because of their sensitive nature.

The following day, the MPs were back in the House but walked out again after the Speaker, Ntlhoi Motsamai, suspended four of their members for unruly behaviour.

However, the legislators boycotted last week’s budget presentation in parliament by Finance Minister Dr ‘Mamphono Khaketla.

According to Chief Molapo, the boycott and Phumpahi report would top the agenda at today’s meeting.

“We are going to be talking about our boycott of parliament, and other pertinent issues, including the Phumaphi report,” said Chief Molapo.

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