Honesty needed in the Lesotho coalition

 

The recent political crisis in Lesotho should come as a cause of concern for the SADC region. It seems recent efforts by the region to help the Lesotho coalition partners to find lasting solution to their wrangling has had little effect.

In July and August the Lesotho coalition partners met the leaders of South Africa and Namibia Presidents Jacob Zuma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, respectively, who were trying to mediate between Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his rival Deputy Prime Minister Mothejoa Metsing. At their meeting in Namibia last month with President Pohamba, who was then chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, the Lesotho coalition partners pledged to work in harmony for the sake of peace and stability in the country.

The meeting was also attended by other members of the coalition and it followed an earlier meeting they held with President Pohamba in Lesotho in July. The Lesotho coalition partners had visited President Pohamba to seek his advice as chair of the Organ on how to peacefully co-exist in the tripartite political matrimony.

Before their meeting with President Pohamba the Lesotho coalition government had also met President Zuma in attempts to assist Maseru return to normalcy following reports of disharmony in the coalition government. 

This followed attempts by the other parties in the coalition to oust Prime Minister Thabane of the All Basotho Convention.

 The other parties are Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the Basotho National Party. The three parties entered into the tripartite coalition after the 2012 elections failed to produce a winner with a majority.

Following the attempted ouster moves on him, Prime Minister Thabane suspended Parliament.

The meetings with Presidents Pohamba and Zuma were meant to find a way of resolving this impasse and the Lesotho issue was also subject of discussions at the recently held 34th SADC summit in Zimbabwe.

Although Lesotho was supposed to have assumed the chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation at the summit, the task was given to South African because of the problems in the mountain kingdom. Lesotho became the third member of the troika together with Namibia.

The SADC summit urged the coalition partners in the government of Lesotho to continue with dialogue to find a lasting solution to the problems facing the unity government in Lesotho.

The summit also urged the partners in the Lesotho coalition, politicians and the people of Lesotho to refrain from actions, which threaten peace and stability and to always uphold the laws and constitution of the kingdom. 

But barely a month after the summit, the Lesotho military seized the police headquarters and some police stations in the capital Maseru claiming the police intended to pass arms and ammunition to Prime Minister Thabane’s party. 

Prime Minister Thabane had fired the head of the Lesotho Defence Forces Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who is said to enjoy the sympathy of Deputy Prime Minister Metsing.

The events leading to the army action show a clear lack of good faith and trust in each other by the coalition partners. 

We urge SADC, in its mediation efforts, to help the Lesotho coalition partners to build trust and negotiate in good faith among themselves and uphold the pledge they made after meeting President Pohamba in Windhoek to promise to work together and reaffirm their “commitment to move expeditiously to address any outstanding issues, with the aim to enable the coalition government to serve the best interest of the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho”.

September 2014
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