By Timo Shihepo
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders have moved to restore peace in the region by ordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Kingdom of Lesotho, and Madagascar to get their houses in order.
DRC under its leader, Joseph Kabila, has been in political turmoil ever since Kabila refused to step down in December 2016, when his term ended. Kabila has since clung on to power although no elections have taken place. As a result, violence between supporters of opposition parties and the ruling party has been frequent. The military has also been arresting and beating people labelling them spies.
In order to avoid the situation from escalating further, SADC appointed former Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2017 to head a special envoy to DRC for peace talks but Kabila refused to entertain them.
However, that would now change, if the SADC’s Double Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government is anything to go by.
The Summit, which was held in Luanda, Angola, this week ordered Kabila – who was also in attendance - to accept the Special Envoy to his country.
According to the communique of the Summit, Pohamba is ready and has accepted to serve as the Special Envoy to the DRC. Pohamba’s office in Windhoek also confirmed to The Southern Times that the former president is ready for his SADC duties once given the green light.
The Summit also called on all stakeholders in the DRC to remain committed to the implementation of the electoral calendar and ensure a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful credible elections.
The elections in the DRC are slated for December 23, 2018, and Kabila has indicated that he will not be standing as a candidate.
“Summit assured the DRC of its continued support of the electoral process and the enhancement of political stability, peace and security,” part of the communique read.
In other equally volatile countries in the region, the Troika Summit has also ordered the Kingdom of Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane to give an update on the constitutional and security sector reforms by August 2018 at the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Windhoek, Namibia. SADC wants the constitutional and security sector reforms to be completed by May 2019.
In 2017, SADC gave the then new Prime Minister Thabane to formulate a roadmap by November 2017 to implement elements aimed at finally bringing peace and stability to the southern African Kingdom, which has been battling political instability since 2014.
Thabane was also requested to fire Lesotho’s Defence Force (LDF) Commander, Lieutenant General Tladi Kamoli. SADC says this element is critical because Kamoli needs to be investigated for the death of former LDF Commander, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, who was fatally shot by fellow members of LDF. Thabane has since fired Kamoli.
SADC has also requested for an amnesty that will cover detained mutiny suspects and ensure the safe return of all members of the LDF who fled Lesotho fearing for their safety.
The Kingdom was also requested to tighten the country’s constitution, which is deemed to have loopholes, which lead to political and security instability.
The political instability in Lesotho is so intense that even the prime minister, Thabane fears for his life, despite being in charge of the government.
“I will implement all the SADC elements if I am alive,” Thabane, who survived a coup as well as having his ex-wife murdered in 2017, told The Southern Times, last year.
The Summit noted the progress made in the deployment of SADC Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL), commended all member states, which contributed personnel and equipment to SAPMIL, and commended SAPMIL personnel for their professionalism and commitment.
The SADC Troika Summit has also approved the urgent deployment of the SADC former Special Envoy to Madagascar, Joaquim Chissano, the former president of Mozambique, to facilitate a National Dialogue aimed at the de-escalation of the political tensions and reaching consensus on the electoral process.
Chissano is to be assisted by the Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ and the Secretariat.
This month saw fresh violence outbreak in Madagascar.
The political violence resulted in two deaths and many wounded, after clashes between thousands of opposition activists and security forces in the Antananarivo square.
The demonstrators are protesting against new electoral laws that the opposition claim could stop a number of candidates from standing in the upcoming presidential elections.
Part of the new electoral laws state that no candidate is allowed to run for elections if they have a criminal record.
The elections are scheduled for November or December.
The Troika Summit said it has noted the unfolding developments in Madagascar and condemned the loss of lives and destruction of property, and urged the Government, political parties, and the citizens of Madagascar to remain calm, exercise restraint, and take measures to avoid the escalation of the political and security tensions.
“Summit mandated the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to engage the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN), with a view to developing a common approach for assisting Madagascar,” part of the communique read.