The troubled Kingdom of Lesotho remains in the spotlight as Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders, await the implementation of constitutional and security reforms set out at this week’s Double Troika summit in Gaborone.
Key among the recommendations laid out in a Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led commission, that is likely to be met with resistance in Prime Minister Dr Pakalitha Mosisili’s administration, is the sacking of his trusted army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.
The defiant Mosisili has always maintained his position against dismissing Kamoli and has repeatedly been quoted in the Lesotho media opposing the Phumaphi recommendation as fundamentally flawed in that regard.
Justice Phumaphi led a 10-member Commission of Inquiry endorsed by SADC investigating the murder of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao by his military colleagues in June last year.
Mahao had been fingered as the ringleader of soldiers involved in an alleged mutiny, with the military later announcing he was shot while resisting arrest.
Regarding Kamoli’s dismissal, the Commission had observed that some Basotho were not happy with him and the army under his command.
“In the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation, it is strongly recommended that Lieutenant-General Kamoli be relieved of his duties as Commander LDF, and all LDF officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason be suspended while investigations in their cases proceed in line with international best practice,” the Phumaphi report read in part.
Dr Mosisili has since dismissed the Commission’s reasons as highly controversial and unconvincing.
He said in the opinion of the Lesotho government, the recommendation was big but chasing very little empirical evidence. “Government is convinced that in spite of the fervent and highly spirited campaign to demonize and tarnish his image, General Kamoli remains a competent, dedicated and loyal soldier whose credentials are unquestionable. So it is not obvious to us that removing him is actually in the best interest of our country,” he told a parliament sitting in Lesotho last week Monday.
Despite his reservations, Mosisili may cave in and convince Kamoli to step down.
He is said to have also told parliament that his government had decided to “engage” Kamoli “on a mutually agreeable solution”.
The Phumaphi Commission’s recommendations have however received unwavering support from the country’s civil society and opposition political parties, with the wives of detained soldiers drumming for the attention of SADC leaders on their country’s situation.
In a communique released at the end of the meeting in Gaborone on Tuesday, the regional bloc said the government of Lesotho, with the help of regional experts appointed by the Troika, should ensure that all SADC roadmap recommendations are implemented by August 2016 through a comprehensive process that involves all stakeholders.
Further, the summit called on all Lesotho opposition leaders in exile in South Africa to return to the country by the end of August 2016 so that they could participate in the ongoing constitutional and security sector reform processes.