Johannesburg - SADC to intensify its efforts to find a lasting solution to the troubled Kingdom of Lesotho, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last week hailed as a milestone that will pave way for establishing the Lesotho reforms authority.
Regional facilitator and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Lesotho last week to oversee the signing of the MOU.
The agreement was brokered by retired South African deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke, on behalf of Ramaphosa, who is the SADC facilitator for Lesotho.
After he met with the country’s political leaders, NGO’s and traditional leaders, Ramaphosa described the development as a milestone of a process that he began in 2014.
The signing of the agreement paves way for parliament to be opened on 5 August as well as prioritisation of reforms.
Ramaphosa said it was encouraging that all parties were in agreement with the reforms.
“All of them unanimously agreed that there should be legislation that is passed in parliament that’s going to lead to the establishment of a national reform authority,” he said.
Speaking after the signing, Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane said the process was proof that SADC member states can assist each other for peace and stability.
“We have now, for the first time, localised solutions to our own problems as citizens of this part of Africa, to sort out problems that were beginning to look unattainable and problems that were beginning to look as though there was something worth not celebrating. Those problems have, through the diplomacy and the ability of President Ramaphosa, to be solved,” he said.
Lesotho's king Letsie III’s brother, Prince Seeiso, said the most important way for Lesotho to move forward was through reconciliation.
The prince added that he acknowledged that people had been hurt, but dwelling on the past would keep the country in crisis.
Reports from Lesotho say he was the first member of the royal family to condemn government regulations that had forced the country’s wool farmers to export the products through a Chinese-run broker.
“Every time we talk about going forward, we must talk about the politics of the 1950s, 1970, and 1975 – we will not move forward because we keep on looking back. What have we learned about the mistakes that they made? So, we have to make peace with our history and move forward,” said Seeiso.
He said a truth and reconciliation process was one of the ways to work towards lasting peace in Lesotho.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition in parliament, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said they would adhere to SADC conditions for the reforms to be concluded.
“The motion of ‘no’ will be there in Parliament, but the order is the enactment of these structures pertaining to the reforms. We cannot hold the country as a democracy at ransom because of reforms. The entire constitution has to be changed because it allows the depoliticisation of public service and the appointment of statutory positions,” Mokhothu said.
Ramaphosa visited Maseru a week after reports that Prime Minister Tom Thabane had been suspended by the national executive of his party All Basotho Convention (ABC).
That battle for control of the governing party has seen chiefs of the army, police and intelligence warning the factions against deploying illegal militias after armed men in balaclavas stormed the party offices in a busy complex in Maseru.
The Prime Minister, however, dismissed the announcement by some members of his party that he had been suspended for six years.
He told his supporters at a rally outside Maseru that he was the only leader and prime minister.
He described the party’s special conference that suspended him as ill-discipline.
“The rebels must stop it because my patience is wearing thin. I’m the only leader of ABC,” he said.
One of the executives in the rival ABC faction that Thabane unilaterally expelled was his son-in-law Lebohang Hlaele who was elected secretary-general.
He also fired him as justice minister and now claims he suspects he married his daughter to get his hands on the party.
“One day my daughter will regret this. I didn’t establish this party for sons-in-law who want it to be their inheritance,” said Thabane.