THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Oversight Committee, mandated with being an early warning mechanism for Lesotho’s instability, returns to Maseru next Monday to meet with National Assembly Ntlhoi Motsamai ahead of the reopening of the National Assembly next month.
Led by retired Tanzanian judge, Justice Frederic Mwita Werema, the 10-member Oversight Committee was established by an Extraordinary Summit of the Double Troika held on 3 July 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa to monitor the implementation of SADC decisions regarding the political and security situation.
The committee was also tasked with providing assistance in the implementation of constitutional, security and public sector reforms in Lesotho.
Other members of the committee include Justice Werema’s deputy, Mamo Vusie Masango from Swaziland, Lieutenant-General Samuel Albert Mdambo (Tanzania), Patrick Balopi (Botswana), Major-General Jefferson Tlhokwane (Botswana), Brigadier Mnisi (South Africa), Colonel Omar Nala (Swaziland), Jose Filomemo da Fonsenca (Angola), and Ambassador Amba Sheyo (Tanzania).
During its first tour to Lesotho, from 17 to 25 November 2016, the committee met Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing, Senate President Seeiso Bereng Seeiso and his vice Futho Hoohlo, among other dignitaries.
The committee also met Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, the Judicial Service Commission, College of Chiefs, some cabinet ministers and principal secretaries, management of different national security agencies, political party leaders, media representatives, Lesotho Council of Non-governmental organisations, the Mahao family and opposition leaders in exile.
Dr Mosisili’s Press Attaché Motumi Ralejoe confirmed to the Lesotho Times yesterday that the committee was scheduled to return on Monday next week to meet Ms Motsamai among other engagements.
Mr Ralejoe indicated the committee was supposed to have met Ms Motsamai last November.
“I am not in a position to know all the details, but I can confirm that among other people the committee members want to meet is the Speaker. They specifically mention they would like to meet her because, for some reasons, it was not possible for them to meet her in November,” he said.
Meanwhile, in its November preliminary report, the committee noted that while the security situation in the country was “peaceful and calm” at the time of its deployment, “political events that occurred at that time have potential of resurfacing and causing instability in the near future”.
The Oversight Committee took note of the infighting that rocked the main governing coalition party Democratic Congress (DC) and subsequently led to its split. Former DC deputy leader Monyane Moleleki, who led one of the factions pitted against party leader Dr Mosisili, last month formed a new party dubbed Alliance for Democrats (AD).
This was after Mr Moleleki joined forces with the tripartite opposition alliance in a bid to oust the incumbent seven-party government through a no-confidence motion.
The opposition parties then tested their powers by submitting a no-confidence motion on Deputy Speaker Montšuoe Lethoba. However, the motion never saw the light of day as Ms Motsamai adjourned the august house on 22 November 2016.
The committee noted that there were indications that the same motion would be tabled as soon as parliament reconvened in early 2017 “and this may cause more uncertainty in the Kingdom”. The National Assembly is scheduled to reconvene on 24 February 2017.
“The OC thus recommends its deployment in January 2017, mainly for the purposes of exercising the early warning function, and in relation to its work programme,” it said.
On the reforms process, the committee also urged the government to “closely consult with both houses of parliament” to ensure collaboration.
It also urged the authorities to expedite the process of an all-inclusive dialogue on security sector reforms (SSR), including proposing concrete dates and a programme for multi-stakeholder consultations on SSR. “These stakeholders should include non-state actors and other critical state institutions such as parliament and the judiciary. The OC urges the government to undertake a review of the legal and regulatory framework of the security sector and harmonise them as recommended by SADC.”
On the contentions Amnesty Bill, 2016 which proposes granting members of the security sector a blanket amnesty for offences committed between January 2007 and December 2015, the committee advised country-wide consultations “before the matter is put into the legislative realm”.
The committee stressed that consultation was key so the principle of amnesty could be properly explained and its acceptability or otherwise assessed.
It also urged the government to conduct an impact assessment of the proposal for amnesty covering the psychological aspects on individuals and communities as well as the economic or financial costs to the country, “especially with respect to the provision for mandatory compensation”.
The Oversight Committee also called on the government to pay the slain former army chief Maaparankoe Mahao’s terminal benefits and to make progress in the investigations into his killing.
The former army commander was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by soldiers who had come to arrest him on allegations that he was part of a group of soldiers plotting to overthrow the military leadership.
However, Lt-Gen Mahao’s family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the shooting.
“The OC urges the government to engage its procedures and process former Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao’s terminal benefits to his lawful beneficiaries. The authorities may use the engagement with the Mahao family to update them on the investigations into his death.”
Efforts to secure Ms Motsamai’s comment were unsuccessful yesterday.