MASERU — Opposition parties say the report the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) released this week on its mediating efforts on the dispute over the proportional representation seats was “manipulated”.
A meeting of opposition leaders on Tuesday resolved to challenge the contents of the report that the CCL presented at the Sadc Summit in Namibia last month.
They will present their position at a stakeholders’ meeting scheduled for September 22.
Sources who attended the meeting told the Lesotho Times that the opposition members were livid that the report, which they only got this week, had omitted their major concerns.
A source who was in the meeting and is a senior member of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Lesotho’s biggest opposition party by way of parliament seats, said the opposition leaders agreed that they would not endorse the CCL report until it is amended to “truly reflect their position”.
“The report was thoroughly scrutinised and it was agreed that it had omitted key issues that we raised and we are going to fight it,” the source said.
He said what particularly irked the opposition was the report’s assertion that the parties had agreed to disagree on the allocation of seats.
They are also worried that the report takes a narrative approach to the issues at stake instead of making clear recommendations on the way forward, the source said.
“It is a lie to say that we agreed to disagree.
“What we said is that dialogue on this issue must continue because the allocation of the seats is the main cause of this dispute.
“To say that we agreed to disagree is to allege that we agreed to differ and that dialogue on this matter was immediately closed.
“Nothing can be further from the truth,” he said.
The opposition leaders are also worried that the final report did not include a legal opinion from the experts that the CCL hired to analyse the electoral law that governs the allocation of PR seats.
“That experts’ opinion is not there yet it is precisely what we need to resolve this problem,” the source said.
Yet it’s not only the content of the report that has angered the opposition leaders but also the manner in which it was issued.
Another source who was in the meeting and is a senior member of the Basotho National Party said the opposition leaders felt that the CCL had ignored recommendations that the opposition made when stakeholders met on August 4 to discuss the report.
He said the opposition recommended that the CCL should not present the report to Sadc until it was endorsed by both parties.
“We were also promised that we (opposition) would be part of the delegation to the Sadc summit in Namibia. The CCL also promised that before we left for the conference they would call a press conference and make the report public,” he said.
“But that was never done. Instead the CCL slithered out of the country with a report that we had not endorsed and left us out of the delegation to the summit.
“Imagine our shock when we heard on radio and TV that the report had already been issued in Namibia. Then after that we had to literally beg for that report.”
Bishop Philip Mokuku, who is the lead mediator in the dispute, has however denied claims that the report had been “tampered with” and that recommendations by the opposition had been omitted in the report.
“That report is a true reflection of what was discussed. It captures the salient points of the discussion,” Mokuku said.
He said the report was thoroughly discussed at the August 4 meeting “and everyone agreed” with its contents.
The bishop said he did not understand the opposition’s quarrel with the report because those that were at the meeting agreed with its contents.
“That was a narrative report. We did not include our opinions in there. Ours was to report what was discussed and what transpired,” Mokuku said.
He added that the CCL had been invited to Namibia by Sadc and they were not part of the Lesotho government as alleged by the opposition.
“We did not know until very late that we were going to present a report in Namibia. The report that we agreed on is the same report that we presented at the summit,” he said.