Pretoria - South Africa, in the spirit of former ANC president Oliver Tambo, will stand by Lesotho as it works towards a better future, the party's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.
“We have just returned from Lesotho, a neighbour that stood by us during the darkest moments of our history, a neighbour that paid a heavy price for its support for the struggles of the South African people,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the University of Fort Hare.
Ramaphosa recalled the Maseru massacre of 1982, in which 30 South Africans and 12 Basotho were killed at the hands of the apartheid government.
He then quoted Tambo, who spoke at the funeral of those who died.
“These events have united us because, your majesty, your people responded to this massacre with the courage that is part of their tradition and part of their history,” Tambo was quoted as saying.
Ramaphosa said this relationship between the two countries still survived.
“It motivates the efforts of SADC (Southern African Development Community) to bring stability to the Kingdom of Lesotho,” he said.
“The courage of the Basotho that Oliver Tambo spoke about in 1982 remains in evidence today, as all parties in the country work towards a common resolution of the challenges they currently face.
“In the spirit of Oliver Tambo, we will continue to stand with the people of Lesotho as they forge a better future.”
The SADC, led by Ramaphosa as a facilitator, went to Lesotho to find a solution after an attempted coup by the military on August 30.
This had resulted in Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fleeing to South Africa, and its parliament being closed.
The attempted seizure of power was blamed on “renegade” Lesotho Defence Force commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli, who had reportedly refused to step down from the military and was accused of a series of attacks on police and political rivals.
Ramaphosa said on Thursday that the Maseru Security Accord, a new deal aimed at promoting security in Lesotho, had been signed.
He said SADC regional facilitation efforts had yielded positive results with the reconvening of parliament by His Majesty King Letsie III which took place in Maseru on October 17.
The security accord, signed by Kamoli, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao and Commissioner Khotatso Tsooana, was aimed at promoting harmonious relations between the leadership, officers and members of both the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
The declaration further provided for parliament to discuss the budget and any other related matter to the general elections scheduled for February 2015 on a date to be set by the king, as well as the dissolution of parliament in December.