Situation in the Kingdom of LesothoBriefing to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations 2 March 2016
Table of Contents • BACKGROUND SITUATION • SADC INTERVENTION • ELECTIONS OUTCOMES • RETURN OF INSTABILITY • SADC RESPONSE • SADC COMMISSION OF INQUIRY • KEY FINDINGS OF THE SADC COMMISSION OF INQUIRY • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS • WAY FORWARD
Background Situation • First coalition government formed under former Prime Minister Tom Thabane following elections in February 2012. • Political and security instability followed after a failed military coup attempt in August 2014. • Tensions between the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service compounded the situation
SADC Intervention • SADC intervention was prompted by these developments – appointment of Deputy President Ramaphosa as the SADC Facilitator to Lesotho by the SADC Double Troika Summit of 13 September 2014. • SADC Facilitator – managed the process • Deployment of SADC mandated SADC Observer Mission in Lesotho (SOMILES) to resolve political and security issues, to pave the way for early elections in February 2015 • SOMILES comprised of security personnel from SADC Double troika countries • SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) moved to declared the elections: “Peaceful, Transparent, Credible, Free and Fair, reflecting the will of the Kingdom.”
Elections outcomes • There was no outright winner as a result political parties opted to form coalitions. • The All Basotho Convention (ABC) ended up with 40.31% of the vote, and the Democratic Congress (DC) with 40.99%. • The DC and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) allied and formed a coalition with an additional 5 smaller political parties with a total of 65 seatsout of 120. • The ABC and Basotho National Party (BNP) together have 55 seats. • The Coalition Government signed an Agreement which committed the parties to a set of goals, including the implementation of the recommendations of SADC regarding constitutional review and security sector reforms.
Return of Instability Cont. • A number of Lesotho LDF officers, accused of an alleged Mutiny plot, were arrested starting in April 2015 and kept in a maximum security prison. • This development prompted many LDF officers to flee to South Africa in fear of being imprisoned. • The mutiny trial is still on-going and is currently indefinitely postponed. • If found guilty, many of the arrested officers could face the death penalty, based on the Defence Act
Return of Instability • Lesotho Opposition Leaders fled to South Africa on 18 May 2015, including former Prime Minister Thabane and two allied opposition coalition leaders, Former Minister Maseribane and Ms Keketso Rantso, along with the former Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, in fear of being targeted. • Former Lesotho Defence Force commander, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao was killed on 25 June 2015, by army officers who had attempted to arrest him for his alleged involvement in an alleged mutiny plot.
SADC Response • On 26 June 2015, President Jacob Zuma in his capacity as the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, dispatches a Ministerial Fact Finding Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho. • An Extra-Ordinary SADC Double Troika Summit took place on 3 July 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa. • The Summit received and endorsed the SADC Facilitator’s Report. • The Summit established a SADC Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances which led to the death of Brigadier Mahao (at the request of Prime Minister Mosisili) and approved the Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry
SADC Response, cont. • The 3 July Summit also approved the establishment of an Oversight Committee to act as an early warning mechanism in the event of signs of instability, and intervene as appropriate in consultation with the SADC facilitator. • The SADC Oversight Committee would also have been tasked with assisting all stakeholders in Lesotho to undertake urgent constitutional and security sector reforms. • Botswana High Court Judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi led the Commission of Inquiry. • The SADC Double Troika commended and renewed the mandate of the Facilitator to Lesotho, Deputy President Ramaphosa, meaning the Deputy President continues with his facilitation.
SADC Commission of Inquiry • The SADC Commission of Inquiry completed its work in early November 2015. • Col Hashatsi, implicated in the killing of Brigadier Mahao, filed a case in the Lesotho Courts, challenging the legality of the Commission of Inquiry. The case was first heard on 2 December 2015, but was then postponed. • Lesotho PM and Attorney-General were also cited as respondents. • A SADC Organ Troika was held on the side-lines of the FOCAC Summit in Sandton, on 5 December 2015. • The Chairperson of the Commission, Justice Phumaphi presented the report to the SADC Organ Troika, with its findings and recommendations.
SADC Commission of Inquiry Cont. • A SADC Double Troika was convened at the SADC Heads of State Summit in Gaborone, Botswana on 18 January 2016 and decided: • The Summit received and endorsed the Report of the Commission of Inquiry, and urged the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to implement its recommendations • The Summit received a report from the Facilitator and reiterated that SADC enjoys immunity as per the SADC Treaty and the SADC Protocol on Immunities and Privileges, and urged Lesotho to abide by the immunity provisions. • The Summit urged Lesotho to prepare, with the support of the Organ Troika and the Secretariat, a road map for the implementation of the reforms as contained in the SADC Facilitator’s Final Report. • The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho is to submit a progress report to the Summit in August 2016. • Summit also called for the safe return of opposition leaders, and called on all stakeholders in Lesotho to ensure the recommended security sector reforms and undertake constitutional review.
Key Findings & Recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry The Commission made the following findings: • There is no conclusive finding on whether there was a mutiny; • However, some suspects were tortured in order to implicate others and the Commission therefore concludes that the alleged mutiny might be a fabrication; • The LDF failed to provide evidence on the basis of which they attempted to arrest Brig Mahao and concludes that his involvement is doubtful; • No death of any opposition member can be described as politically motivated; • The Minister of Defence sanctioned the investigation and arrest of alleged mutineers but was not aware of Brig Mahao’s involvement. • On balance, the Commission concludes that Brig Mahao did not resist arrest; the use of force was not commensurate with resistance; evidence was not preserved; and it was unlikely that he walked into hospital himself; • The Commission also expressed itself on the legality and procedures for appointing and demoting Genl Kamoli and Brig Mahao.
Key Findings & Recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry The Commission recommended: • That the Lesotho Government pursue criminal investigations into the death of Brig Mahao and that the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) be empowered to do so; • That Genl Kamoli be relieved of his duties; • That LDF officers implicated in murders, attempted murders or treason be suspended and investigated; • That “the deficiencies and overlaps in the Constitution w.r.t mandates of security institutions need to be looked into urgently with comprehensive strategy to reform them”; • The SADC Mission to Lesotho (SOMILES) report recommendations be accelerated (which include security sector reforms); • That the Oversight Committee as determined by the SADC Double Troika Summit of 3 July 2015 be operationalised.
Recent Developments • The court case brought against the Commission of Inquiry was dismissed on 8 February 2016 by Judge Monapathi - upholding SADC’s view that the Commission was indeed legal and binding in terms of the SADC Protocols and Treaty. • On 8 February 2016, Lesotho Prime Minister Mosisili tabled the Commission report to Parliament. • Opposition MPs staged a walk-out in response.
Way Forward • Lesotho is expected to present a Roadmap to the SADC Summit in August 2016 on Constitutional and Security Sector Reforms; • Lesotho is expected to report on implementation of the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Report; • SADC will continue to urge Lesotho to implement the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Report; • SADC expects Lesotho to develop a comprehensive and inclusive roadmap on constitutional review and security sector reforms; • SADC to monitor Lesotho’s response to the implementation of the said findings and recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry Report; • SADC needs to spend time and effort on Lesotho, in order to help with the reform process; • Facilitator to continue to assist Lesotho to achieve peace and stability as mandated by SADC.
Way Forward • South Africa will continue to support Lesotho bilaterally, and will continue to work closely in the context of the Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC) agreement, which provides for political, economic and social cooperation; • South Africa will continue to engage with Lesotho key projects, including on the Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and economic development of the Mountain Kingdom; • South Africa will continue to assist with any process deemed necessary by SADC;