Johannesburg - The SADC has taken the bull by the horns and sent a strong message to the region that it will not turn a blind eye to political assassinations of key national figures – a possible sign that such crimes can no longer continue with impunity, at least in Lesotho.
Following the brutal murder of Lesotho’s former Army Commander Maaparankoe Mahao by members of the Lesotho Defence Force outside his farm in Lesotho on June 25th, the SADC Double Troika met in Pretoria Friday to discuss the way forward in order to maintain peace and stability in the Kingdom.
The SADC Double Troika, chaired by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, decided that an immediate independent Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mahao needs to be deployed. An independent pathologist will also be sent to conduct an examination within 72 hours.
The Troika comprising Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Malawi have urged Lesotho to urgently undertake constitutional and security sector reforms, as well as to create a conducive environment for the return of opposition leaders.
Currently there are no opposition leaders left in Lesotho, all have fled the country, and most to South Africa. Fear has gripped the mountain Kingdom, with members of the judiciary, media, and civil society also fleeing to South Africa.
Many Basotho accuse Lesotho’s current Army Commander Tlali Kamoli of fomenting mayhem and fear by overseeing not only the murder of Mahao, but the torture and killing of soldiers who support Mahao, as well as other political opponents of the ruling coalition such as the prominent businessman Thabiso Tsosane who funded Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention.
Kamoli does appear to believe he is above the law, defying an order to appear before the High Court to explain what happened to Mahao, sending instead a junior official who referred to his death as part of a “secret military operation”.
To have a sovereign nation geographically surrounded by South Africa which no longer respects the rule of law and whose military and police target and intimidate all arms of democratic governance to such an extent, has required SADC to take strong and urgent action in order to maintain credibility.
Independent Foreign Service