MASERU – Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has appreciated the SADC family for its steadfast support to Lesotho during the implementation of the reforms in his country, along with the country’s tumultuous recent past. Major was speaking at the 42nd SADC Summit of Head of State and Government held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday this week.
The political and security crisis placed Lesotho on the agenda of the regional body and necessitated the deployment of the SADC Observer Mission (SOMILES) and appointment of a SADC Facilitator in 2014; appointment of a SADC Commission of Inquiry in 2015; the deployment of the SADC Oversight Committee in 2016 and the SADC Prevention Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) from December 2017.
Two military commanders were killed in two years; three national elections held in five years; and opposition leaders fled the country after the 2015 and 2017 elections, respectively. As a result of these challenges, a strong consensus emerged in Lesotho and among its international partners that comprehensive sectoral, institutional and constitutional changes could serve as a panacea to these crises.
Majoro said: “Today, we pride ourselves with laudable strides that we have made in the reforms process since 2017. Several legislative instruments, including Acts of parliament and policies, have been adopted. The key reforms outcome is the development of an omnibus Constitutional Bill which addresses a myriad of our challenges.
“This Bill was under discussion in parliament when the legal term of our 10th Parliament came to an end on the 13th July, 2022.” “Due to the importance of this Bill, the Council of State convened on the 15th and 16th August, 2022, and has resolved that preparations should be made to recall the 10th parliament, in line with the relevant constitutional provisions, in order to finalise work on the omnibus Bill.
“Necessary legal procedures and steps are being followed with a view to implementing the decision to recall Parliament,” said Moeketsi Majoro. He further said, the omnibus Constitutional Bill signifies the conclusion of the first step in implementation of the reforms in Lesotho. The process shall continue until it culminates in the “re-birth of Lesotho”.
“While SADC has been walking this journey with Lesotho for a long time, they are cognisant of the fact that SADC may not have all the resources to continue its supervision of the kingdom. SADC Contribution to Lesotho so far is praiseworthy. “Therefore, I wish to take this opportunity to heartily thank SADC for having been such an important stabilising factor in Lesotho, going back to 1998 when the country experienced its worst post-election violence so far,” he said.
Majoro added that SADC’s current assistance to Lesotho has encouraged a conducive atmosphere for the implementation of national reforms for long-term national stability. “SADC countries have made significant financial contributions to the cause of Lesotho and have also contributed personnel to help stabilise our country, with some of them losing their lives in the line of duty while within our borders.
“We are eternally indebted to such countries and families of the said personnel. One thing we can assure you of is that your efforts and sacrifices have not been in vain,” he said. He also paid tribute to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his continued commitment to assisting Basotho find a lasting solution to political and security challenges facing the country.
“President Ramaphosa’s commitment to the country’s cause has been obvious to all and shall forever be written in indelible ink in the hearts and minds of Basotho,” he said before concluding by bidding farewell to his colleagues as since this was his last SADC Summit.
Lesotho has had a long history of political instability and security challenges dating back to the period immediately preceding and following independence in 1966. This history includes over 16 years of autocratic rule from 1970 and an eight-year military rule from 1986 to 1993.
While the military handed over power to a democratically elected civilian administration in 1993, its incursion into politics and government laid the ground for a perennially politicised security apparatus. A symbiotic alliance between sections of the security forces and factions of the political elites over the years led to what has been described as the politicisation of the military and the militarisation of politics.
Other factors which account for Basotho long history of instability include weak and non-accountable governance institutions; elite dominance of the political space; continuous splintering of leader-centred political parties that are marked by poor management and weak internal democracy, and many others.