Mmegi Online :: Khama saves Lesotho from SADC sanctions
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Last Updated
Friday 27 May 2016, 11:15 am.
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Khama saves Lesotho from SADC sanctions

President Ian Khama, in his capacity as SADC chair, engineered a last gasp deal that saved Lesotho from possible sanctions, suspension from the bloc and other tough actions proposed by regional leaders in their meeting on Monday, Mmegi has learnt.
By Mbongeni Mguni Wed 20 Jan 2016, 18:22 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Khama saves Lesotho from SADC sanctions








In a revealing press conference this afternoon, Foreign Affairs minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi said by Monday, SADC leaders, meeting in a Double Troika over political unrest in Lesotho, had agreed to censure the country, through a range of punitive measures, including suspension, sanctions and other “exclusions”.

Central in the meeting was Lesotho’s acceptance of a Commission of Enquiry report into the June 25, 2015 assassination of former military chief, Maaparankoe Mahao. The Lesotho government is legally challenging the commission, its report and its commissioners, who were led by local judge, Mpaphi Phumaphi. 

While Pakalitha Mosisili’s government says Phumaphi’s Commission overreached its mandate and is flawed, critics say the report incriminates serving military and political figures in Mahao’s assassination and other intrigues in the mountain kingdom. 

“The possibility of suspension of Lesotho did cross the table of discussion because in the early part of discussions of the report, Lesotho had been reluctant to receive the report citing an ongoing case before the courts,” Venson-Moitoi explained.

“SADC did explain that it is immune from the courts under the treaty. There appeared to be no meeting of minds between Lesotho and SADC and the meeting ended with Lesotho refusing to receive the report.

“That conclusion was not one which the heads of state favoured because everyone wants SADC to succeed. Members pleaded with Lesotho and that’s why the option of sanctions, exclusions, limitations and restrictions of all sorts and even suspension were discussed as a proposal for the next SADC summit.”

According to the minister, the Monday meeting ended with most heads of state, including South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, approving a communiqué on punitive actions against Lesotho.

The mountain kingdom is

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wholly located within South Africa and is heavily reliant economically on the larger country. Yesterday, South African media and Mosisili, in separate reports, indicated that Zuma was among leaders pushing for action against Lesotho. 

“Everyone felt that a lot of time and money had been spent on the Lesotho issue, from financing of elections, security missions and even the Commission of Enquiry. It was a unanimous decision,” Venson-Moitoi said.

However, before the communiqué was despatched, Khama came to rescue, brokering discussions with Mosisili and convincing him to accept the report and agree to a 14-day deadline to report back.

“The Monday meeting closed on a note that the heads of state were not comfortable with,” Venson-Moitoi said.

“Following that, the chairman (Khama) sensing the mood, drove the issue further and I believe Lesotho, also sensing the feelings and pleas, did not leave immediately.

“Mosisili stayed for lunch and continued chatting, before joining the chairman in a private meeting. At the end of that meeting, he agreed to accept the report and by agreeing, this changed the complexion of the decision that was taken before.

“The chairman immediately called all the other leaders that were party to the first decision and told them of the new development and they all expressed comfort with it.”

Mosisili asked Khama for time within which to consult his coalition partners on the report, resulting in the 14-day timeline set. Lesotho also agreed to produce a roadmap on how it will fulfil a set of recommendations on governance restructuring made by SADC facilitator, Cyril Ramaphosa last year.

***An in-depth article on the behind-the-scenes intrigues from this week’s SADC meeting will be in the Friday edition**

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