POLITICAL instability and violence in Lesotho will take centre stage at the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit starting Monday, where a decision will be made on an early warning mechanism to monitor instability in the landlocked country.
Lesotho has been in turmoil since an attempted coup late last year that resulted in Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa being appointed as a facilitator by Sadc and tasked with brokering a settlement between the feuding parties.
Further deterioration of the political situation in Lesotho has serious implications for the country and the region. If threats of a withdrawal of foreign aid materialise, it would increase pressure on SA to support its neighbour.
The recent increase in political violence, which included the assassination of former head of the Lesotho Defence Force Maaparankoe Mahao, raised questions about the quality of the deal brokered by Mr Ramaphosa.
Under the deal, Lesotho’s election date was brought forward from 2017 to February this year and the feuding security chiefs Mahao, Tlali Kamoli and Khothatso Tsooana were removed from office.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was elected and there are concerns that a witch hunt had since been launched for senior people loyal to his predecessor Tom Thabane.
President Jacob Zuma, with Mr Ramaphosa on board, will lead SA’s delegation to the Sadc heads of state and government summit in Gaborone, Botswana.
The summit would consider the creation of a special commission to investigate the killing of Gen Mohau, Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela said on Sunday.
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and African Union Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have called for the perpetrators to be brought to book.
Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Ronnie Mamoepa, said a special early warning oversight mechanism would be created to monitor political instability in Lesotho. This committee would operate in consultation with Mr Ramaphosa, who last month was reappointed as facilitator.
The Sadc troika for politics, defence and security — currently SA, Zimbabwe and Botswana — would meet on the margins of the summit to put the finishing touches on the political, security and police oversight committee, Mr Mamoepa said. A troika meeting last month resolved to establish the mechanism.
Mr Monyela and Mr Mamoepa both denied that the early warning system would involve a military component.
The seriousness of the instability in Lesotho has led to an intense focus on it from the Sadc amid concern about the consequences for its citizens.
US ambassador to Lesotho Mathew Harrington has been quoted as saying his country would discontinue its large aid package to Lesotho if the violence did not stop. This message has been echoed by the European Union.
Mr Mosisili dismissed these warnings as interference in Lesotho’s internal affairs.
Biznews.com reported that calls were growing for Lesotho to be booted out of the US’s African Growth and Opportunity Act which provides duty-free access for exports to the US.
The summit is expected to focus on the implementation of the regional industrialisation strategy approved at the extraordinary Sadc summit in April in Harare‚ Zimbabwe.
By Wynham Hartley: BDLive