Reforms deadline set

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…as SADC reiterates that Metsing, Mochoboroane shouldn’t be prosecuted.

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE head of the SADC facilitation team, retired former South African Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke, has reiterated SADC’s position that politicians, Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane, should not be prosecuted for any crimes until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

Justice Moseneke also said Lesotho has until June 2021 to have fully implemented the constitutional, security sector, media, governance and judicial reforms which were recommended by SADC in 2016.

He said this while addressing a press conference in Maseru on the outcomes of his visit to the country from Monday to yesterday morning.

The visit came against the background of the Constitutional Court’s 12 November 2020 judgement upholding the same court’s November 2018 decision to nullify clause 10 of the SADC-brokered October 2018 government-opposition agreement which stopped the trials of Messrs Metsing, Mochoboroane and other politicians until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

After their latest court setback, the two politicians will be joined to the treason trial alongside former army commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Tlali Kamoli, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and two other soldiers, Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa. The treason charges stem from the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Addressing the media this week, Justice Moseneke said although they respected the court verdict, it was important for Messrs Metsing, Mochoboroane and other politicians to participate in the reforms process.

He said Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane could always be tried after the implementation of the reforms.

Now that the court had given the greenlight to their prosecution, the duo can always appeal the verdict to give themselves time to participate in the reforms, Justice Moseneke said.

“Our position as SADC has been consistent and clear,” Justice Moseneke said.

“We have invited those who were in exile to come back and we entered into an (October 2018) agreement with the government of Lesotho as well as political parties. That agreement is still valid and binding. The importance of that is we have to safeguard the reforms. When are done with the reforms, charges, whatever their nature, will always be there and can be prosecuted.

“We are aware of the judgement that has come out of the courts. We respect the judgement and we are of the view that the judgement is correctly decided. However, our position is simply that the concerned parties will file appeals and do applications to stay out of prosecutions. That will give us the time we need for the reforms. So, for now we are not aware of any impending arrests that will happen.”

Justice Moseneke also said Lesotho has until June 2021 to have fully implemented the reforms.

“We agreed on a timeline to have all the reforms completed by June 2021. The NRA is supposed to be for 12 months. This can only be extended by another six months and not more.

“We need to have the reforms prioritised in a way that ensures that by the time campaigning for the 2022 elections starts, we should have completed the reforms because the preferable route according to all the stakeholders is that Basotho must go to elections with the reforms in place. It would be a tragedy if the nation would be called to vote with no reforms in place,” Justice Moseneke said.

Meanwhile, Law and Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao yesterday said his ministry was ready to disburse funds to the NRA to enable it to perform its mandate of spearheading the reforms process.

Although he did not specify the amount, NRA deputy chairperson, Liteboho Kompi, yesterday said M35 million had been budgeted for the NRA’s operational costs.

Prof Mahao said all stakeholders must swiftly move to the actual implementation of the reforms.

“We have to start working on the recommendations as expressed by the people at the plenaries and prepare them into bills to be enacted by parliament,” Prof Mahao said.

To expedite the reforms process, he said officers from his ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations as well as the NRA chief executive officer, Advocate Mafiroane Motanyane, and his deputy, Tšiu Khathibe, have started working on a work plan that will define roles and timelines for various stakeholders.

“The work plan has to be completed in the next few days and presented to the government and the NRA for approval. Thereafter, it will be given to Justice Moseneke and his team for review,” Prof Mahao said.

He said a management committee made up of the himself, Foreign Affairs Minister ‘Matšepo Ramakoae, Adv Motanyane and Mr Khathibe will meet regularly to resolve any issues that may arise.

Prof Mahao also said he is “conflicted” in the matter of the treason charges against Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane.

The 30 August 2014 attempted coup was triggered by then Prime Minister Thabane’s decision to fire Lt Gen Kamoli as army chief and replace him with Prof Mahao’s younger brother, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

Lt Gen Kamoli resisted the move and Lt-Gen Mahao was later assassinated on 25 June 2015 by soldiers allegedly acting on the former’s instructions.

Lt Gen Kamoli and others are in remand prison awaiting trial in connection with Lt-Gen Mahao’s murder, treason and other crimes. Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane want the state to defer their treason trial until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

Addressing the media yesterday, Prof Mahao said he would not entertain questions on the treason charges as he was conflicted due to the fact that his brother was a victim of the alleged crimes.

“I told Justice Moseneke that I am conflicted in the matters relating to Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane. Those matters should be kept away from me. I don’t have any role to play in those matters at all. That is why I don’t even want to issue my opinions on them because I am conflicted.

“It is fair that I keep them at arms’ length so that those who may be able to deal with them fairly and objectively can do so,” Prof Mahao said.

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