SADC to introduce cheaper organ to replace oversight committee
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation has resolved to replace the oversight committee with a cheaper body to act as an early warning mechanism in Lesotho and other trouble spots in the region.
Foreign Affairs and International Relations minister Lesego Makgothi, who attended the SADC inter-ministerial meeting last week in Lusaka, Zambia, said the ministers’ decision would however, have to be first ratified by the regional leaders when they hold their 39th SADC Summit next month in Tanzania.
The new cheaper organ tasked with mediation, conflict prevention and preventative diplomacy will cost each member state US$ 8000 (about M111 154) per year and this amount is US$12 000 (M166 741) less than what each SADC member state paid to maintain the oversight committee in Lesotho.
Mr Makgothi said the decision to opt for the cheaper mediation structure was adopted after the ministerial meeting was presented with two options of either extending the mandate of the oversight committee which expired on 31 March 2019 and deploying a the cheaper structure to Lesotho. He said the inter-ministerial committee’s decision would be incorporated into SADC facilitator, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s report on the political situation in Lesotho that will be presented at next month’s SADC summit.
Lesotho was represented by Mr Makgothi, Defence and National Security minister Tefo Mapesela, acting Police and Public Safety minister Prince Maliehe, Justice and Correctional Service minister Mokhele Moletsane, Home Affairs minister Mokoto Hloaele, principal secretaries in the five ministries and other senior government officials.
Mr Makgothi said the Lesotho delegation had requested the extension of the tenure of the oversight committee before being swayed by the counter-proposal for the much cheaper and possibly more effective mediation and conflict prevention structure.
“The government of Lesotho had shown interest in the extension of the oversight committee mandate,” Mr Makgothi said, adding, “We had communicated that we still wanted SADC to be on the ground to act as early warning mechanism so that when there is any form of misunderstanding or an impasse, they are here”.
He said the Lesotho government delegation later changed its mind and accepted the counter-proposal for the mediation and conflict prevention structure after they informed the new body would cost SADC a total of US$122 000 per year. This is much less than the US$328 000 SADC spends to maintain the oversight committee per year.
Mr Makgothi said the new structure would have an elder SADC statesman, two experts and one person on its secretariat.
“Unlike the oversight committee which monitors the situation and writes a report for SADC Executive Secretary to present at the SADC summit or extraordinary summits, the mediation structure has powers to mediate and make decisions when a problem arises.
“As a country we felt that this was an important structure and we therefore supported the idea. The recommendation to introduce the new structure in place of the oversight committee will be incorporated in the SADC facilitator (President Ramaphosa)’s report that will be presented at the SADC summit next month in Tanzania. There is a high likelihood that the oversight committee will be replaced by the new body,” Mr Makgothi said.