SADC team arrives on fact-finding mission



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Mozambique President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi

Billy Ntaote

SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chairperson and Mozambique President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, this week dispatched a six-member team to Lesotho on a fact-finding mission.

The team, led by Mozambique Director of Regional and Continental Integration Joāo Machatine Laimone Ndlovu, arrived in Maseru on Tuesday and is expected to meet various stakeholders and discuss the country’s security situation. The mission would also discuss the SADC Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana, which completed investigating Lesotho’s security challenges last month.

Among the stakeholders the team is set to meet are Police Minister Monyane Moleleki, Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi, Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Tlohang Sekhamane, opposition party leaders, religious leaders and civil society.

According to Mr Sekhamane, Mr Nyusi, who assumed the SADC post in August this year, would want “first-hand information” about the Lesotho situation and Justice Phumaphi’s probe, hence his decision to dispatch the team.

“Mr Nyusi wants to get the facts for himself; he would want to find out about Justice Phumaphi’s Commission of Inquiry, as well as the situation on the ground. The team he sent here yesterday would be meeting with the relevant stakeholders before it leaves on Saturday,” said Mr Sekhamane.

Lesotho Council of Nongovernmental Organisations Executive Director, Sebata Motsamai, yesterday said he had already met with the mission, and was satisfied with the interaction he had with the team.

“This is the first time that we are having a president sending his own people to consult stakeholders over our challenges as a country. I believe it is because he understands the need to handle our issues carefully as a result of the experience Mozambique has had regarding  conflict.

“I also believe they came to understand what could be the possible response from the general population concerning the Phumaphi Commission and the report it is expected to release soon. This is a very sensitive matter in a country that continues to be deeply divided. If the report is not handled well, it could spark conflict as the situation on the ground is still tense,” said Mr Motsamai.

Meanwhile, speculation had been rife that the Phumaphi report would be released this week.

However, Minister Sekhamane said this was highly unlikely as the Commission was the subject of litigation in the High Court.

“The Commission was initially given until 9 November 2015 to complete its work but there is a court case by Lieutenant-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, in which he is demanding a number of issues concerning his testimony and the report itself.

“The case is to be heard on 2 December. The question now is whether Phumaphi would submit the report or wait for the court judgement. The government has decided not to give the judge any orders as we have no right to do so,” said Sekhamane.

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