Rakuoane “disowns” National Peace and Unity Bill

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…says it is Mahao’s work and he is only tabling it before parly

‘Marafaele Mohloboli

ACTING Justice and Law Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane says he should not be blamed for the National Peace and Unity Bill as it was crafted by his predecessor Nqosa Mahao.

All that he has done is to circulate the bill among legislators during the weekend for them to either reject or accept it, Advocate Rakuoane said.

His remarks, in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, were in response to earlier comments by Professor Mahao who had criticised the government for crafting what he said was an “unconstitutional” bill.

Prof Mahao had accused the government of ignoring the concerns of the victims of human rights abuses who had opposed the bill’s provisions for the establishment of a National Peace and Unity Commission to hear testimonies of alleged perpetrators of human rights violations before deciding whether or not to pardon them for their crimes.

Prof Mahao also said Adv Rakuoane should have recused himself and not crafted the bill as “he is definitely conflicted in that he was part of the (Pakalitha Mosisili-led) government when the concerned crimes occurred”.

Adv Rakuoane served as Home Affairs minister in the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties coalition from 2015 to 2017. The Mosisili regime was accused of turning a blind eye to human rights violations by politicians and members of the security agencies including the June 2015 assassination of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao. It failed to implement the recommendations of a 2016 SADC Commission of Inquiry to prosecute Lieutenant General Mahao’s alleged murderers who include former army commander Tlali Kamoli. (See story above).

Contacted for comment, Adv Rakuoane, who is the substantive Tourism, Environment and Culture minister, said he will not even bother to respond to concerns about the bill and whether he was conflicted as he had not drafted the bill in the first place.

He said it was drafted by Prof Mahao before he was fired from cabinet in April 2021.

“I don’t want to get into arguments about the bill save to say that I found this bill on Prof Mahao’s desk when I assumed the portfolio in an acting capacity.

“He is the one who had worked on it and I just took over. It is very unfortunate that he now wants to lay everything at my feet to appear clean himself.

“He worked on the bill but now that he is no longer a part of government, he is shifting the blame. The honorable thing that he could have done would have been to resign before he was sacked because he already knew that he was going to part ways with government,” Adv Rakuoane said.

Prof Mahao, who had earlier spoken to the Lesotho Times on the issue, was no longer reachable on his mobile phone in the evening to respond to Adv Rakuoane’s claims.

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