Pretoria – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has given Lesotho until 1 February to publish the report of an independent commission of inquiry.
The independent commission of inquiry was established to look into the circumstances surrounding the alleged assassination of the former Lesotho Defence Force Commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao.
Mahao was shot dead in June in an exchange of gunfire that took place at his home, just outside Maseru, between him and a group of soldiers who were on a mission to arrest him.
The 1 February deadline was issued by the SADC Double Troika Summit which was held in Gaborone, Botswana, on Monday to consider the political situation in Lesotho and to hand over the report to the government of Lesotho.
President Jacob Zuma, who was leading the South African delegation, joined leaders from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania for the meeting.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also attended the Extra-Ordinary Summit in his capacity as the SADC-appointed Facilitator on the situation where he tabled his report.
Speaking to the media on the outcomes of the summit, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Thursday said the publishing of the report is imperative for the BaSotho people as they seek to rebuild themselves.
“Even the family of the late brigadier need to gain access, in fact all the BaSotho need to gain access so that they know what happened.”
According to the Minister, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has accepted the report of the inquiry despite a high-ranking officer in the defence force of Lesotho appearing in court seeking an order declaring the commission of inquiry null and void in December.
In a communique issued after the summit, the SADC Troika said Lesotho still enjoys SADC immunity as per the SADC Treaty and the SADC Protocol on Immunities and Privileges. However, it urged the Kingdom to abide by the immunity provisions.
“Any court decision taken against the Commission of Inquiry is of no legal effect, and will not bind SADC and its institutions.”
The summit noted with concern that Lesotho has not undertaken the constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms.
Lesotho has thus been tasked to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of the constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms and submit a progress report to the summit in August 2016.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said SADC believes the reforms will help the country as there has been a culture in Lesotho of the interference of security forces in political affairs of the country.
The communiqué also urged Lesotho to facilitate the safe return of opposition leaders and soldiers who are in exile.