27/04/2011 President Jacob Zuma at the Union Building during the freedom day celebration. Picture : Sizwe Ndingane

Maseru - South African President Jacob Zuma remained locked in meetings on Tuesday night with the leaders of the three feuding parties in the coalition government in Lesotho.

On his arrival at midday, Zuma met King Letsie III before individually meeting Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, his deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing, and Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo.

Thabane’s All Basotho Convention formed a coalition government with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy led by Metsing, and the Basotho National Party, led by Thesele Maseribane, after the May 26, 2012 general elections produced a hung parliament.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy has accused Thabane of not respecting the coalition agreement’s terms. It has threatened to pull out.

Thabane responded by suspending parliament for nine months until February 27, saying the prorogation would give the three parties time to resolve their differences.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Christian Council of Lesotho have been mediating for two months in talks to save the coalition, but these have yet to achieve a breakthrough.

The SABC quoted Lesotho’s Foreign Minister, Mohlabi Tsekwa, as saying: “There have been teething challenges... and President Zuma is here particularly to help the… leaders of the three parties forming the coalition to address the challenges as seriously and as amicably as possible.”

It is understood Zuma wants the assurance that the three parties are making progress in the talks, as any instability would threaten South Africa’s investments in the kingdom.

South Africa has invested heavily in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, through which it augments its water supply while Lesotho benefits from the infrastructure, hydropower and royalties paid for the natural resource.

It is also understood Zuma is visiting Lesotho to see whether it is ready to assume the chairmanship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security later this year, considering its political stability has been in doubt.

The organ is managed by a troika and is responsible for promoting peace and security. - Independent Foreign Service

Cape Times